""The pod race in the film suffers from a common trope, in which characters needing to go somewhere really fast head off in their vehicle. At some point they realise they're not going to make it in time, so they open the throttle all the way and go even faster. The question of course being why weren't they going as fast as they possibly could already?"
During a car chase or race, if a driver already at top speed needs to go even faster, that's not a problem — just shift gears, move the throttle level, and/or stomp on the gas, and the vehicle will suddenly surge forward with a new top speed
. In any case, the crucial element here is that the vehicle should have already been going at max speed, yet for dramatic effect
, they use some some of speed or rev control to go even faster at the crucial moment. If there is a reason they were still speeding up - they had previously slowed to go around a bend, hadn't been moving long enough to get up to speed yet, or were cruising with no need for hurry until hearing about an emergency - then it isn't this trope. If all indications were that they were already going the fastest they could have gone, then it is.
It doesn't matter what type of vehicle is involved; the mere act of changing gears is enough to make the car, motorboat, or hypergalactic spaceship suddenly hit Ludicrous Speeds
. This frequently occurs when the driver is in a Cool Car
, but can also happen for comedic value in a Rice Burner
or The Alleged Car
. A sudden change in the engine noise's volume or frequency - even a totally illogical one - usually accompanies the gear shift.
Of course, this doesn't work in Real Life
; the transmission is not a magic lever that makes you drive faster. And a moment's thought
will make it clear that a character who was already in a hurry should've been going as fast as they can before
the gear change. In fiction, however, a Gear Shift Speed Surge
is a convenient way to add drama to a race, or to Hand Wave
the driver's sudden speed increase.
Subtrope of Overdrive
. Also see Traveling at the Speed of Plot
Anime & Manga
- In an Indy Car themed commerical for Miller beer, we see Bobby Rahal doing some test laps. When he sees a hot chick in the stands, he changes gears, whereupon his car suddenly goes faster and turns into a rocket jet. Don't ask how that's supposed to sell beer.
- Happens about once a minute in Speed Racer, complete with pointless stomping on the accelerator pedal.
- Almost an every episode occurrence in The Dukes of Hazzard while either Bo or Luke is driving the General Lee; often leading to Slo-Mo Big Air.
- The opening sequence of the TV series CHiPs had a useless example of this trope where it was necessary for the camera, which spends much of the opening showing Ponch and Jon riding side by side on the freeway, to suddenly zoom in on one of the cops gloved hands pulling the clutch in, immediately followed by a shot of a booted foot stepping on the gear shifter. It was already more than obvious the motorcycles were moving quickly and so didn't need the visual validation provided by the controls being messed with.
- Averted in Warhammer 40K: the Deff Skwadron comic shows that while ork fighters have clutches and gear changes, they never use them, relying only on the gas pedal.
- In Real Life, it's not upshifting that speeds you up, but downshifting; you accelerate faster at lower gears, at the cost of your mileage and top speed. This sort of downshift acceleration can happen often in auto races, and drivers that do it too frequently pay with an extra pit stop.