Driving Cars Through Vertical Loops
The other night at 2012′s summer X Games, Hot Wheels set a new world record by having two cars driving along a track with each of them completing a massive, six-story vertical loop. The track ended with a victory jump through the air for both cars.
Check out the historic (and quite badass) car stunt:
A British car television show called Fifth Gear also explored the fascination of having a car being driven through a vertical loop. A segment of one of the episodes had a stunt driver drive a small Toyota sedan through a forty-foot vertical loop.
After watching both segments, I noticed that the vertical loops are more roundish than elliptical. I wonder how many G’s the drivers were experiencing at the entry and exit of the loops.
Looking back at the history of roller coasters, it was quickly discovered that circular vertical loops were extremely strenuous on the passengers, causing many of them to black out and go unconscious from the sudden, extreme G force. This problem also caused many injuries and earned some of the early roller coaster designs a negative reputation. It was later discovered that elliptical loops with shallower transition points in and out of the vertical loop put less strain on the passengers and ride vehicles, resulting for a much more enjoyable riding experience.
Most roller coaster documentaries discuss the history, evolution and physics behind the famous maneuvers and inversions that we love today.
The circular design of the car loop is almost discussed in the segment of Fifth Gear. The show’s hosts mention the slight fender damage to the car when it enters the loop, but they don’t discuss the physics behind the design of the loop. Then again, Fifth Gear was a show about cars and not really the physics behind some of the stunts performed on the program.
I think it’s cool that we’re finally seeing organizations building and performing massive stunts with cars. It wasn’t too long ago that these were just elements in video games. My brother and I used to spend hours back in the summer designing crazy tracks on the classic racing game, Stunts.
Ah, the classic days of computer gaming! One of the best features of Stunts was that it allowed you to design and save your own customer tracks, giving you virtually unlimited combinations and hours and hours and hours of replay ability.
Back in the real days of computer gaming.
Before computer games like Stunts, we used Hot Wheels cars and tracks to make mini roller coasters. We’d have a high starting point and then let the cars race down a big ramp before going through a few loops and other stunts. Again, this simple entertainment would give us hours of fun during the hot and muggy summers.
Speaking of cool Hot Wheels track, here’s a video of somebody who built a mega track over 2,000 feet long.
The track’s length is impressive. It must have taken a great deal of effort to not only plan its design, but actually build and test the different maneuvers. I think it’s cheating though to have the numerous speed boosters throughout the track. It would have been much more impressive if the entire track was dependent solely upon gravity. Start the track up in the attic (or on the roof), and have gravity power the car through the entire length.
But this guy obviously loves his passion with Hot Wheels, and making tracks like that is still a great hobby.
Dammit! Now I have to get Stunts working on my computer again! There goes my afternoon!