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Everyone’s childhood dream has just been realized: two cars raced on a human-scale Hot Wheels track. On June 30th, two cars entered a life-sized version of Hot Wheels’ newest toy, the Double Dare Snare, at the Summer X-Games in Los Angeles, California. Two cars drive on two separate tracks that merge into one loop, then the track ends in a jump. Not only did this make children’s dreams come true, it also marked the first time in history that two cars have mounted a vertical loop at the same time. In fact, at 60 feet, it set a Guinness World Record for the largest double loop ever attempted.
Drivers Tanner Foust and Grey Tracy, in the yellow and green cars respectively, are experts at stunt driving. Foust is the host of the U.S. version of Top Gear, a two-time Formula Drift champion, and a world-renowned stunt driver who drove the General Lee in The Dukes of Hazzard. Tracy, a Hollywood stuntman since 1991 and six-time Pikes Peak champion, performed stunt driving in The Fast and the Furious.
This loop has been in development since last fall. Former NASA lab experts, roller coaster engineers, and stuntmen collaborated on the design of the track. Every detail was important for the safety of the drivers and the success of the stunt. Intense calculations and “a mind-boggling amount of physics,” according to Foust, resulted in the design of this track. It follows the same physics of circular motion as the toy, using force to keep the cars from falling off the track when in the loop. Eventually, 700 feet of track and 125 tons of loop were created by Laissez-Faire. The experts calculated every scenario to figure out the optimal speed for entering the loop: 52 miles per hour. Any slower and the cars could fall out of the loop; any faster and the G-force would be too dangerous. As it was, the drivers faced 7 Gs of force. To prepare for the stunt and the force they would face, Foust and Tracy attended flight training and experienced 10 Gs of force in a plane.
Not just any car could complete this stunt. The cars were purpose-built, meaning they were specially made for the task of completing this double loop. The cars had to fit the radius of the loop and could have no drag. They were also outfitted with safety equipment like roll cages (just like NASCAR vehicles). The loop had a safety net in case of an accident during training (though it was removed for the event), and drivers wore neck braces and harnesses.
While the event was a success, only one driver could be the most successful; it was a Hot Wheels race, after all. Tracy, on Team Green, finished the track and flew off the jump first. While World Records Academy reports that Tracy “won,” I would have to assume that his entering the loop and finishing before Foust was likely a pre-planned, expertly calculated safety precaution. Don’t let that ruin the magic for you when you watch the spectacular video, though.