Guinness Book of Records in 1985 – Skier on the roof

Skier crouching

In 1985 Turbo Technics was involved in a bizarre event which is still talked about today. This involved strapping a pair of skis to the roof of a Turbo Sierra with a skier clipped in and attempting to break a speed record of 124 mph to claim a Guinness Book of Records entry.

How it came about

in 1985 the Wilkie brothers were Britain’s premier downhill male skiers and wanted to break the record for ‘skiing on the roof’. Downhill skiing was an amateur sport and it was felt that the resulting publicity would enable sponsorship deals. The background was that the skier’s equipment and technique had been developed either in a wind tunnel (expensive) or by strapping the skier to the roof of a powerful car.

A potential deal with Jaguar fell through, so the brothers approached Ford. Ford didn’t have a car that was quick enough, but reckoned one of TT’s hot Sierras might do the trick. With only a few days warning Geoff Kershaw upped the output of the TT 2.8-litre XR4i demonstrator, fitted a higher ratio diff and off we went


A suitable venue was not straightforward. Initially, the main runway at Heathrow was considered in the early hours of the morning, but insurance proved very expensive!

Fortunately, the airfield at Bruntingthorpe had recently been purchased by the Walton brothers to be used for vehicle testing and we were able to have the use of it for the day. This comprised a 3000m runway with perimeter tracks, although the western end was uphill.


the record is credited to Graham Wilkie. The brothers had wanted to handle the driving and the skiing, but after several attempts, Geoff rightly surmised it required a much quicker entry onto the main runway. He turned up the boost, waited until the hot day had cooled a little, and took over the driving. Job done.

However, it wasn’t easy. The entry to the runway involved Graham bending down to hang onto the skis with one hand and then crouching into the ski position on the straight. The sun had gone down so the run was conducted in semi-darkness which made judging the braking point somewhat difficult! In the event the car stopped about 50 meters short of the end with brakes full on. Graham’s first words were ‘Did we make it?’!


The event was filmed from a helicopter belonging to and flown by World Record stunt pilot Quentin Smith, and was there to allow TV crews to capture the event from the air. At one point in the day, without warning, Quentin took off and landed the helicopter on top of the brick chimney that’s affixed to the main Bruntingthorpe hangar. Why? Because he could – it was all part of a completely surreal day.


It was recognised by Guinness. The 125.9mph bettered the previous figure by somewhere between 1 and 2mph.


the event created a lot of coverage in magazines and newspapers including a double centre page spread in Autocar, breakfast television and, very nearly, News at 10, from which it was only bumped at the last minute. It also featured in Ford’s dealer magazine.

The car

Based on a Ford Sierra XR4i fitted with Turbo Technics’ single T3 turbo system giving 230 BHP. 15” 9-spoke wheels were fitted. For the run, the final drive was raised to 3.14, but otherwise the car was standard.

Speed was recorded by Correvit with the sensor mounted on the rear bumper and the display in the cockpit. This worked by visual tracking of road surface features across the image screen.

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