February 23rd, 2011

Where the rubber meets the road

To Americans the burnout it is central to car ownership. It is a territorial statement, the motoring version of cocking a leg and pissing on a lamppost. For American motoring mags there is a fight to be the first to get photos of the latest Detroit metal with rear-wheels spinning, brake calipers glowing and thick clouds of smoke lingering in the air.

But burnouts have their history cemented in drag racing, where spinning the rear wheels isn’t used as a symbolic two finger salute but as a vital tool to getting down the track faster than your competitor.

Burnouts are used before races to effectivley sand the tyre down to get rid of any debris but also warm them up to get them super sticky for best traction off the line. This can either be done by juggling the acceleartor and brake pedal at the same time but the pros use a solenoid valve (which can be toggled on and off) called a “line-lock”.

Line-locks help in rear-wheel drive cars so brake pressure remains only in the front brake calipers, which allows the car to remain stationary while the rear wheels spin freely without warping the rear calipers, which are pretty vital if you want to stop at the other end of the track. An unfortunate by product of all this tyre shredding is epic amounts of smoke – which is no bad thing.

So there is the science behind a burnout but nothing beats the watching the real thing in HD super slow-mo with a classical music soundtrack. So click on the vid above and enjoy.

Words: Rowan Horncastle

Photo Credit: Shane Sharp

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