Burning rubber is a great American past-time! Stomping on the gas pedal while holding the brakes tight just to get the rear tires to start spinning is one of the most exhilarating experiences for people who love cars. But, very few people understand the science of the burnout and I've set out to change than with the help of a 1950 Buick Roadmaster with 800 horsepower under the hood!
When you push on the gas pedal in your car the wheels start to turn and propel the car forward. You move forward because the tires and the pavement have a friction force between them that keeps them from slipping (unless you are on ice or a water slick because both have less friction than pavement). In order to overcome this friction and get the tires spinning faster than the car is moving one must have a massive amount of horsepower and torque.
I found a massive amount of horsepower and torque when I called Reggie Dangerfield, a local hot rodder. He showed that it is possible to overcome friction by getting the rear wheels to turn so quickly (and by holding the brakes on the front tires) that the wheels begin to spin and heat up. As they heat up the friction force increases and they become more sticky. The 800 horsepower Buick continues to overcome this increasing force and spin the tires.
What does a burnout look like in thermal? Well, watch the video and see for yourself - words do it no justice!!
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