OFFBEAT Spin, doughnut, drift… you name it and he'll do it! Car stunts give Terry Grant a thrill like nothing else does
W hen he's at the wheel, Terry Grant knows no fear. He can spin a car like a top, drive it on two wheels, and drive it in reverse at 103 mph over a long stretch — the reason he is invited to perform car stunts at premier motoring events around the globe. (The Briton was in the city for the JK Tyre VW Polo Cup).
Grant slides the sleek Nissan 370Z on to the glistening tarmac at the Irungattukottai race track. To get a feel of this sports car, I buckle into its passenger seat. After an enjoyable short drive, Grant asks me to get ready for a mad spin. When I protest, he promises to “keep it simple”.
He keeps the promise: just a doughnut and a short drifting. Strangely, I wish the drifting were longer. Grant is a past master at precision, and can make his subjects feel at ease; he routinely does a stunt that involves getting a car to do swirls around a person within a constricted space. “I see things others can't. I can work out distances between objects rather quickly.” There is no inkling of pride when he says this.
He has a gargantuan self-belief; he wears a helmet only for a few stunts — such as the one in which he drives a car upside-down through a loop. As creating new records and bettering his own give this 43-year-old immense fulfilment, no risk is considered too high. Eighteen world records stand in his name. The long list includes highest number of doughnuts (566 in 40 minutes), most number of spins standing on the roof of a car, changing a front wheel on a spinning car in the fastest time, driving a car on two wheels (one front and the rear one in line with it) over the longest distance, and driving a car upside down through a loop, 110 times in 10 weeks.
He subjects himself to punishing practice — at his facility in Knebworth, 50 miles north of London — before attempting a record. For one offbeat stunt, he spent a considerable amount of time with jugglers of the Moscow State Circus, when they had pitched their tent on English soil for a series of shows.
Grant sees himself as a performer and basks in the adulation of the crowds gathered. Both his parents were into motor racing, and the sight of cheering crowds had left an indelible mark on young Grant's mind. He was a racer himself until he discovered how to get more attention. He would perform doughnuts in the last lap if he knew that he was leading the pack by a long distance. “The authorities would tell me off, but the spectators enjoyed these performances.”
Doughnuts were replaced with more difficult stunts; Grant gave up motor racing when he noticed people were beginning to come to the track just to watch his daredevilry.
Grant states matter-of-factly that he has numerous fans — including FI drivers — who seek to learn from him. He has inspired one fan to become a professional motor stuntman: with a small scooter, 16-year-old Perry Grant exhibits his father's daredevilry.
I see things others can't. I can work out distances between objects rather quickly