Faster than the Speed of Gravity

11.09.16 - Global Rallycross Supercars

For most of us the thought that gravity has an actual speed to it is pretty much insane. The simple truth is that gravity does have a speed and if you’ve ever been in a physics class or a physical science class you would know the speed of gravity. It seems like this speed wouldn’t be impressive, but most cars, even most supercars, can’t make the run to sixty mph in the same or better speed than the speed of gravity. That perspective makes what the cars o the Red Bull Global Rallycross even more impressive.

Looking at some numbers for these “leave a superbike in the dust fast” cars, we see that the build of these cars is small, typically using a shell from a compact model such as a Beetle or Civic, and they have a ton of power. Imagine a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that produces 600 horsepower, that’s what you have under the hoods of these rally cars and it gives them the ability to accelerate at blazing fast speeds. How fast are these cars? As you can see in this video, they are fast enough to reach sixty mph in only 1.9 seconds making them some extremely quick cars on the road and track.

What you do see when you look at how these cars accelerate and how quickly they can reach the speeds they need to get to is that everything is optimized for the maximum acceleration. This means the engines, the differentials, the tires and all the numbers for the pressures and fluids that are part of the car are set perfectly to give these drivers the acceleration they need to launch off the dunes and have a consistent drive to be able to continually compete in the action of the sport they love.

In order to produce the insane acceleration of 1.4g these cars have to carry an impressive power to weight ratio. The minimum weight of these cars is a little under 3,000 pounds and when you factor in the 600 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque you find that you have a car that offers you a power to weight ratio of five pounds per horsepower which is much lower than most supercars on the market today. Along with absurd amount of weight, these cars much have AWD in order to launch the cars to the speed desired as they race around the track.

Other than this amazing power ratio and the AWD these cars are built with special limited slip differentials to allow for the best entrance and exit angles on the track. This gives the driver the ability to push the power where they need to in order to be the most effective. The tires are made to be sticky to the track so that these cars have the best traction possible and finally we have the human element, which takes a ton of skill and focus for these guys to be able to make the right decisions and launch off the line at faster than the speed of gravity.

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