The Dos and Don’ts of MediaCorp Subaru Car Challenge

Vietnamese national Nguyen Phuoc Huynh was crowned the winner of the MediaCorp Subaru Car Challenge on Tuesday (Nov 3). Here’s a guide on what it takes to go the distance and win the car

A 30-second cheat sheet
A 30-second cheat sheet
03 Nov 2015

A 30-second cheat sheet

In its 14th year running, the Subaru “not for the faint-hearted” Challenge is an endurance trial where 400 contestants have to each keep their right paws firmly planted within a palm print on a Subaru car (palm positions are based on the luck of the draw). The last man or woman standing gets to drive home the car. This year, Vietnamese national Mr Nguyen Phuoc Huynh walks away with the grand prize including free COE (worth $60,000) and $5,000 worth of Shell-sponsored fuel.

And now, we'll let you in on six tips you need to know to win the MediaCorp Subaru Car Challenge, courtesy of two insiders who have worked behind the scenes on the Challenge for years.

TIP #1: Be friends with your neighbours. They could lend you a helping hand, or slipper.

Since you may potentially be spending an entire day (or 82 hours and 16 minutes, aka three-and-a-half days, which was last year’s record-breaking time) next to your sweaty neighbours, and no, you won’t have your smart phone to distract you, you might as well be pals, right? The insiders tell us that contestants often keep the conversation ball rolling to keep them going. And, even though it’s a competition, it’s not all cat claws and fights. Shares Insider 1: “There was one year where this really short female contestant got a palm position on the car roof. She literally had to stretch to reach it and it was very uncomfortable for her. So the people around her stacked their slippers up so she could stand on them and reach the car top more comfortably.” Aww.

A 30-second cheat sheet
A 30-second cheat sheet
03 Nov 2015

A 30-second cheat sheet

TIP #2: Focus on the positive, not the pain. And try not to let your fingers turn into fries.

“During interviews with past winners, they talk about being mentally strong and focusing on one thing [as the key to winning]. One winner said that all he kept thinking about were the places he was going to go with the car ’cos if he thought about how bad his situation was, he’d lose the mental strength to carry on,” shares Insider 2. Mental strength is trying for contestants due to lack of sleep and sometimes, hallucinations set in. Says Insider 1: “I’ve had people say that they look at their fingers and imagine them turning into French fries. There was one who tried jumping into the fountain and another who bolted around the venue grounds. Others forget where they were, why they were there and how they got there.” And you thought retail amnesia was a bad thing.


TIP #3: Strategise your five-minute breaks, and eat your bananas.

Every six hours, the contestants are given a precious five-minute break, where they get to eat, drink, get a massage and go to the loo (yes, all in five minutes). Says Insider 1: “One contestant said that he’d pour his water into his rice to soften it up and then he’d slurp it. He won’t bother with anything that requires too much chewing, like really hard vegetables or meat. He’d also eat bananas to give him energy. A lot of them get a massage and eat at the same time.”
 

A 30-second cheat sheet
A 30-second cheat sheet
03 Nov 2015

A 30-second cheat sheet

TIP #4: Wear appropriate attire, and um, don’t wear jeans.

Come rain, come shine, you’ve got to keep your paw on the car. And the last thing you want is to be weighed down by your rain-drenched jeans. Says Insider 1: “We can differentiate the novices from the experienced ones ’cos the former come in jeans, and we know they aren’t going to last.” Opt for comfy footwear and lightweight pants of dry-fit material. And go easy on the war paint, we mean, make-up. Spills Insider 1: “Everybody goes into the challenge dressed as comfortably as possible ’cos they don’t get to bathe. But last year, we had one contestant who came with waterproof make-up, false eyelashes and manicured nails! What was amazing was that her false eyelashes could still function so well after two days (laughs).”


TIP #5: Cheating will work against you (and diapers will fail).

With four eagle-eyed marshals patrolling each car like a hawk 24/7, contestants rarely attempt to cheat. But that hasn’t stopped some from getting creative. “There was a year when I was going into the night shift on the second day and I was told to keep an eye on one particular contestant ’cos there were flies around her. All of a sudden, she sprinted towards the toilet and as I chased after her, I could see her holding on to her pants. Turns out she was wearing adult diapers and it had been raining so the diapers were about to fall off. That’s against the rules — in no way are you supposed to be wearing anything that assists you,” says Insider 1.


TIP #6: Get some helping hands from your loved ones.

Be it with support banners or cheerleading routines, supporters make a difference. “Many times, we see entire families camping out overnight with their sleeping bags outside Ngee Ann City [the contest venue],” spills Insider 2. If your squad cannot be on-site to offer moral support, they can log on to carchallenge.sg and play an online game to score you some extra breaks that are up for grabs every day, until the last 11 remaining contestants. The premise of the game is simple: Multiple palm prints flash across the screen. Tap on them to make them disappear. The more palms you tap on within the given 60 seconds, the higher your score. Think of it as the e-version of popular arcade game Whack-A-Mole. The Top 10 scorers in a particular time slot win a five-minute bonus break for their chosen challenger. It’s all about the breaks, so start rallying your squad like T. Swift does celeb pals.

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