Just in case you’re skeptical about just how much work a drag racer’s parachutes do to slow down a speeding car, here’s an excellent demonstration. Even though they’re not making that hot caliper-on-rotor contact of the brakes, a car’s drag chutes are incredibly important, as you can see right here on Pro Mod racer Mike Bowman’s Chevelle at Gateway Motorsports Park.
The race happened in September, and as you can see, those chutes do a ton of the work of stopping a speeding race car. Without the drag those chutes provide, the car’s brakes simply can’t convert enough motion into heat to get the car stopped, and the failsafe nets at the end of the strip end up saving the day.
Keep in mind that the Chevelle there made a 5.89 pass at 255 MPH, which makes the way Bowman handled the car, pointing it nice and straight into the center of the sand and net, even more impressive. Incredibly, Bowman suffered no serious injuries.
As someone who’s almost wrecked a dragster (for very different reasons, and much, much slower) I can only imagine the underpants annihilating terror that Bowman must have felt when he didn’t feel the reassuring tug of that parachute.
So, for all you parachute-doubters out there, I hope this has been a valuable lesson.