The link that testmans provided is obsolete, as the "script" is undownloadable.
I think what you want is this: Recovery Partition - Create
Effectively, the recovery partition made using the tutorial above mimics the Windows 7 disk in every way. You get WinRE etc. and can restore system images, but it is alot quicker as it is all coming from the HDD.
Using the Windows 7 disk a reinstall can take me 30-45 minutes, with the recovery partition it is more like 10-20.
Just a word of warning, if you do decide to use this method, the recovery partition must NOT contain anything else. This means keep your image seperate. Back in the early day's of using my homemade recovery partition I had this problem with EasyBCD writing boot files to the recov partition and it was corrupting it.