It shouldn’t take Einstein to calculate that working parachute brakes are better than non-working ones. The amount of speed they take out of a fast-moving object is incredible, and when they fail… well, that’s not good.
In this case the object was a drag-prepared Chevrolet Chevelle that crossed the line at Gateway Motorsports Park at 255mph, having just run a 5.89-second quarter-mile. At the line the ‘chutes deployed but didn’t open out, leaving the deep red Chevelle relying just on its disc brakes. Spoiler alert: they weren’t enough.
As the car careers down the strip and past the camera we can see the front discs glowing a fierce orange from the sheer heat generated. Safe to say that by this point they’re all but useless. They are most likely steel and would have long since flown through their useful operating window. Competition-spec carbon ceramic items thrive on temperatures like that and, we’d expect, would have slowed the car faster than this unless the thin front tyres were actually the limiting factor.
Fortunately the driver, Mike Bowman, had his wits about him and was able to wrestle the car into the centre of the track, plum-straight into the emergency escape sand pit and then into the unforgiving embrace of the safety net, the course’s last line of defence against brake failure. He may not have won his duel, but Mike wins bonus points from us.