Here’s a useful—and very visual—illustration of physics for you. See, if you think those parachutes that sprout out of the back of drag cars once they’ve crossed the finish line are merely there to add a bit visual garnish to all the horsepower, methanol, noise, and flames, please click play on the video above.
What you will see is Pro Mod driver Mike Bowman’s parachutes fail during a race at Gateway Motorsports Park upon his crossing the line at 410kph after a 5.89-second pass. “No worries,” you may think, “he can just hit the brakes.”
Well, as you can see from the firey, orangy hue radiating from under the car, they’re not quite up to the job. See, throwing a bed sheet into the air at nearly 480kph is actually quite an effective way to slow a car down. With Bowman’s chute failing, he basically had a monster brake failure and an instant, incredibly soiled pair of pants. And had to rely on the netting at the end of the drag strip to catch him. He shot, he scored. He also walked out unhurt, which is quite amazing. So don’t go doubting those parachutes, peeps.
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.