Watch this alcohol toy car reach 205 MPH
Tethercars are sort of a cross between a nitro RC car and a control airliner, in case you’re unfamiliar. (Not many people are, after all.) They are high-speed, specialized model cars with a small aircraft engine that circle around a specialized course, being controlled with a steel cable – it doesn’t there’s no steering or throttle, just turn it on and hold it tight – and it turns out that despite their simplicity, they can get moving.
The video above shows a tethercar time trial. The car is pushed to start, and the “driver”, who stands in the middle of the course, pulls it around the track via a steel cable. When the car is moving fast enough, the “driver” releases the towline and pulls away, and the car keeps the towline above the ground by sheer momentum. Once the car has reached top speed and the time trial is complete, the fuel supply is cut off by pressing the fuel cut-off switch on the outside of the car. with a broom.
Of course, in the time trial above, the car hits an absolutely absurd speed of 205 mph, taking the simple pastime to another level of complexity. It’s not a scale speed, it’s an authentic 205 mph toy held by a guy with a steel rope, followed by him jumping on a small platform to get out of the way when he moves too much quickly to stick to it. This, somehow, isn’t even the fastest out there; the current official record holder, according to the American Miniature Racing Car Association, arrives at a blistering 215.9 mph on the standard-sized 70-foot-diameter circular cement track. These speeds are achieved by highly aerodynamic designs which look like full-size Bonneville race cars at top speed, combined with miniature gearboxes paired with extremely efficient 10cc engines that run on methyl alcohol. These engines can spin up to 30,000 rpm which, combined with a Doppler effect of over 200 mph, leads to the mad its heard in high speed racing videos.
The hobby/racing/sport was once incredibly popular in the United States in the years following World War II, with over 400 titles in the United States at its peak of popularity. Today, there are only three courses left (in Illinois, Indiana and California) and despite the introduction of electric tethercars that can pull speeds well above the 200 mph mark, without leads, it’s a little hard to see a resurgence in popularity coming. Still, I can hope, because it’s the kind of weird hobby I could totally get into.