If you’re a regular Carscoops reader or spend time watching car videos on YouTube, you’ll have come across a CarWow drag race. The CarWow channel is a monster, with over five million subscribers and a catalog of hundreds of head-to-heads that grows with new races added every week.
People pit cars against each other on a straight stretch of road for almost as long as there are cars, so CarWow can hardly claim to have invented this. And it wasn’t the first channel to upload drag races to YouTube. But thanks to its relentless content push, CarWow and presenter/head of content, Mat Watson, created a winning format that other channels were forced to copy.
It’s like the Wikipedia of automobile one-on-ones. Think of any combination of cars available in Europe (and even some big trucks) sold over the last few years, and more than likely CarWow sent them a quarter mile, including the Rimac Nevera and the Ferrari SF90 , whose race was watched 4.3 million times in two weeks. Or his most recent title, which pitted a Bugatti Chiron against a Red Bull Formula 1 car, and even brought in former F1 driver David Coulthard to help drive it.
Related: This Year’s ‘World’s Biggest Drag Race’ Features Over 5,000 Horsepower
Pass the filler, which is the fastest?
The videos, hosted by affable Mat Watson, tap into the innate primal desire in each of us to know if Car A is faster than Car B, rather than spending 20 minutes of beautifully shot but empty promotional footage. senses. A desire to know if, if you drop $75,000 on an Audi RS5, you’ll regret it when a BMW M4 or AMG C63 pulls up and you both drop the hammers. Or a desire to know things you never even thought to ask, like whether a Ferrari 308 with a Tesla powertrain is faster than a stock Testarossa.
“Not everyone can drive like Chris Harris, but anyone can smash a throttle”
Old media were slow to respond
“I think in many ways mainstream print and digital media have been surprised by YouTube, in part because they’ve struggled to monetize it,” says Watson, who has worked in that environment himself before. to be attracted by the startup CarWow in 2016.
“They’re going to complicate things too much by trying too hard or going on a track that looks spectacular, but not everyone watching these videos can drive like Chris Harris, dragging supercars,” Watson says. “But anyone can smash a wide-open throttle, so people watching our videos can really imagine being in the car.”
Judging by CarWow’s ritual pre-race tire warm-up routine, which is mostly just an excuse to mess up going sideways before getting to work going straight, Watson is reasonably practical in a car, although by his own admission, that wasn’t always the case.
“There are people who are just gifted drivers, and people who will always be bad drivers, no matter how hard they try,” Watson says. “But there are millions of people out there who are right in the middle. They have the potential to be quite good, if given the chance to spend more time trying. And it was me. In my old magazine job, I was never on the road test, so I didn’t have much luck driving. And now I do.
I should add that when we spoke he was on his way to a track day with a Porsche 911 and a Toyota GR Yaris to hone those skills. At CarWow’s expense, of course.
What is Carwow, anyway?
CarWow earns a few of those pennies through its YouTube channel, but it’s really just a giant showcase. His real business, which takes place in the UK, Germany and Spain, is helping people find their next new car. If he manages to find yours for you, he is paid by the manufacturer.
But if CarWow’s business is trying to hook you up with a new Honda CR-V, isn’t there a huge disconnect between that and a video where a Lamborghini Aventador SV takes on a 580hp Citroën Rallycross ?
“There are,” laughs Watson, “but we actually do simpler reviews than drag races. And the people who watch our videos are often the ‘influencers’ in their social circle. They’re the people their friends ask for advice when they need to buy a car, so if the name CarWow stuck in their minds because they saw a drag race and they pass that name on to their friends, that’s good for we.”
And lots of people to have seen those drag races. Watson says if a video gets 1 million views on day one, it’s considered a success. But is he concerned that the drag racing format will become stale? “Yeah, it could, eventually,” he concedes. “But I think there’s still a lot of fun to be had.”