Blacktop Cadence: It's Tarmac!

This image was lost some time after publication.
This image was lost some time after publication.

You've walked on it. You've most likely skinned your knees on it while playing kickball or four-square. We're willing to bet you've hooned on it. Yes friends, it's the reason we're not all driving Land Rovers today: it's tarmac! An evolution of John Loudon McAdam's road-building system, which involved breaking rocks in the hot sun, tarmac — introduced by E. Purnell Hooley as a way to cut down on dust produced by the vacuum created by fast-moving vehicles — used a crushed-stone aggregate bound with tar.


However, what we refer to as tarmac today is asphalt. Rather than a process, asphalt is correctly the binding substance of the aggregate; the term for the road-surface material itself is "asphalt concrete." There you go. The tarmac your Yokohamas love is most likely actually asphalt concrete. Who knew that we'd been lied to all along?

Asphalt Concrete [Wikipedia]

Jalopnik Road Trip Report: Sevening on the Tail of the Dragon [Internal]


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asphalt is more flexible and softer and more forgiving than concrete. Concrete is brittle and once it cracks it tends to fracture all the way down to its core. Asphalt cracks can be repaired or resurfaced easily. Concrete takes over a month to properly cure, Asphalt can be driven on within a few hours after it's laid. They use concrete for bridges and overpasses because it's lighter and easier to make big blocks out of for assembly with cranes.