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Drag racing

A drag racer drives a sports car to a speed of 300 km/h, at which point he turns off the engine and releases a parachute, without using the brakes. The car has a total mass of 1800 kg, a frontal area of 1.2 m2 and a drag coefficient of 0.25. The parachute has a diameter of 2.5 m and a drag coefficient of 1.2. Assume that there is no aerodynamic interference among the car, the parachute and the ground and neglect the rolling resistance of the car. Derive relationships for the car speed and distance traveled as functions of time. Compute the speed and distance after 1 s, 1 min and 1 hr. Is it possible for this car ever to stop under these conditions? What would you recommend to the driver?


Contributed by Stavros Tavoularis, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada. Image from Drag Racing Online.

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