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Fleeting Wonders: New World Records for Parallel Parking and Roundabouts

Oran Sands and a friend en route to setting a world record. (Photo: screen shot)

It’s a phenomenal time for world record and auto enthusiasts. Recently, two monumental records were set, one for the longest time spent driving in a roundabout, and another for the tightest parallel park in reverse. Only try the first one at home.

Oran Sands, a 64-year-old from Carmel, Indiana, recently drove around a local roundabout for three hours, 36 minutes, and 24 seconds. He arrived at the roundabout prepared—he had two action cams set up in his 1987 Volkswagen Cabriolet to film his record-in-the-making, some friends to keep him company, and the Mayor’s office on board. He had already done his research to make sure that no such record yet existed and that he wouldn’t be violating traffic law. Naturally, he filmed the whole drive.

Sands was careful in his roundabout selection, especially since Carmel has more than 60 roundabouts—more than any other city in the U.S. and more than most states. He ended up choosing a dog-boned shaped roundabout, whose shape and multiple lanes would make those three and a half hours easier for him and better for other cars. A circular roundabout would have been a whole other equation.

The mayor even took a turn in the passengers seat, and delivered a Mayoral Proclamation declaring it Roundabout World Record Day. Sands has written a detailed narrative of the drive, which totaled 65 miles clocked at 19 miles per hour. The record has been registered on Record Setter but not yet with the Guinness World Records, which Sands says takes much longer. 

Meanwhile, in Brooklands, England, a British stunt driver was busy setting a new parallel parking Guinness World Record, which was a much speedier endeavor. The record setter, Alastair Moffatt, squeezed a classic Mini Cooper into a space just 13.3 inches larger than the car, a feat that required reversing at 40 miles per hour and then spinning 180 degrees. After much practice and planning, he succeeded on his second official attempt. 

“It would be physically impossible to get the car into the space by shunting it in,” Moffatt told The Telegraph. Moffatt beat the previous 2012 record by one centimeter.

Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday even commented on the feat: “Our parallel parking records are always hotly contested and his demonstration of skill, precision and dedication to achieve such a difficult record is really inspirational stuff.”

I doubt the driver of this car can claim credit for its parking. (Photo: Marcus Hansson/flickr)

Why spend all this time to set records? Well, here’s some wisdom from Oran Sands: “If there is a moral to this story it’s to do what you dream about… This isn’t achieving world peace but it’s making an attempt and succeeding. And that leads to do more of the same.”

In less exciting car news, one of Google’s little round self-driving cars was pulled over in Mountain View, California for driving too slow—24 mph in a 35 mph zone, according to police. There was no infraction, but human drivers should be wary of Google prototypes slowing down neighborhood traffic.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to edit@atlasobscura.com.