Contents: Acceleration | Speed


Type AccelerationTop Speed
Distance speed time acceler-
ation Gs
Rocket Dragster 1/4 mi. 386 MPH 3.6 sec. 5G386
Rocket Dragster   0-100 MPH 0.5 sec. 9G *
Top Fuel Dragster 1/4 mi. 333 MPH 4.4 sec. 3.3G *333
2003 F1 racecar   60 MPH 2.7 sec. 1G230
2003 F1 racecar - braking 180 ft. 200-0 1.9 sec. 5G
2003 F1 racecar - cornering     3.5G
2007 Bugatti Veyron   60 MPH 2.46 sec. 253
1997 Dodge Viper   60 MPH 2.9 sec. 0.94G
1992 Ford RS200
(record for production car)
  60 MPH 3.07 sec. 0.89G
Bugatti Veyron 253 MPH
2003 z06 Corvette   60 MPH 4.5 sec. 0.61G
Roller Coaster - Kingda Ka at Great Adventure in NJ   128 MPH 3.5 sec. 1.7G
Roller Coaster
F16 jet
F16 jet
(radial acceleration in a turn)
Space Shuttle
Take off
  20,000 mph2 450 sec 3G
Rocket Sled 3   632 MPH 5-6 sec. 5G
Space capsule re-entry       11G
BobSled (lateral force in corners)   90 MPH   6G
Human 40 yds.   4.38 sec. 4 0.4 G27
Human 50 m.   5.56 sec. 4 0.33 G 27 MPH
Cheetah   50 MPH 3 sec. 0.76 G 64
Peregrine Falcon 1.5 G deceleration from a dive
18 G lift pulling up from a dive
Only a sample of fast cars are listed see Fast Cars and for more.

2. The space shuttle must accelerate to a speed higher than the orbital speed of 17-18,000 MPH to overcome air resistance, since the engines shut off before it reaches orbit. If you do the calculation the acceleration required is only 2 G, but since they are going almost straight up at the start you must add the 1G of gravity. It also accelerates faster in the first 2 minutes before the Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) seperation. See Affordable Space flight and Space Shuttle Launch Physics.

3. In 1954 Col. John P. Stapp rode a rocket sled to 632 mph in ~6 seconds and then came to a stop in 1.4 seconds. He experienced deceleration forces averaging 25 G's with a 40 G peak.

4. In a football 40 the timer starts his watch when the player starts running, so there's +.2 sec reaction time for the timer. The player is running whenever he wants to, he is not reacting to a gun, so there's another +.2 sec., so you may see claims of faster times by football players.

Deon Sanders reported time of 4.19, was probably the result of a bad timer.

5. In 2003 Michael Schumacher's raced his Formule 1 Ferrari F2003-GA against a Eurofighter Typhoon jet. The F1 car won at 600 meters (.37 mi.) but lost at 900. However, the plane only beat Schumacher by 0.2secs in the 900m dash - with a time of 13secs compared with the Ferrari's 13.2secs.

A formula 1 (F1) racecar's top speed is about the same as an Indy car, but it has better acceleration, braking and cornering. They can go 0 - 100 mph and back to zero in 4 secs. It can go from 185 mph to 0 in a little more than 2 seconds in a distance of 85 metres.

Gravity acceleration (G-Force): The force of gravity will cause an object dropped to accelerate. G = 9.81 (meters/sec)/sec = 32.2 ft./sec.2
MPH = 1.467 ft./sec. = .447 m/s = 1.61 kilometers/hr. = 0.87 knot
Actual acceleration will be less because of air resistance. An object will stop accelerating in air when the air resistance equals the pull of gravity. A man has a terminal velocity of about 200 mph when curled into a ball and about 125 mph with arms and legs fully extended to catch the wind like a parachute.

Anything more than about 4 - 6 positive Gs will black people out, unless they are trained to fight it. Trained military pilots in G-suits can sustain up to 9 Gs. Higher G forces can be tollerated for fractions of a second. An average person could momentarily experience eight to ten Gs by plopping down onto the couch to watch TV. A woodpecker experiences 10 G of deceleration when its beak hits a tree.

a =   v - v0

v = a t
x = a t2 / 2
v is velocity in ft/sec
x is distance in feet
a is acceleration in feet/sec2
t is time in sec

centrifugal force (radial or centripetal acceleration):
Where:  Ar=Radial Acceleration
         r=Radius of curve
Centrifugal force is the force points out from the center, while centripetal force is the force that keeps the object in its circular path (gravity for an orbeting satelite).

Most cars tires will provide .7 - .8 Gs of radial acceleration before they break loose. Sports cars with racing tireswill get around 1 G.
A F1 racer can get up to 3.5 G because of down force produced by ground effects and wings.
At 60 MPH (88 ft./sec.) 1 G of centrifugal force will occur at a radius of 240 ft. (r = 882/32.2).

* Note: There are a lot of web sites which state that a top fuel dragster will reach 200 MPH before half track and in order to do this the launch acceleration approaches 8Gs. it is actually 2-3 Gs

 Solving the equations below for t2: 

 t2 = v2/a2  and t2 = 2x/a 

 equating both equations: 

 v2/a2 = 2x/a 

 solving for a: 
 v2/(2x) = a2/a = a 
 200 MPH = 293.33 fps
 1/8 mi. = 660 ft.
 a = 293.332/(2 * 660) = 65.18 feet/sec2 
 g = 65.18/32.2 = 2.02 
 Source:  Richard Isakson
Roller Coasters:
Most coasters use a lift hill chain to start the ride; at the top of the hill, gravity takes over to accelerate the train. Momentum propels the trains through the ride and back to the station. Recently, coasters like Flight of Fear at Paramount's Kings Dominion and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at Disney-MGM Studios have used magnetic propulsion (linear induction motors - LIMs) to shoot the trains out of the loading stations. Cedar Point's Top Thrill Dragster and Great Adventure's Kingda Ka use a hydraulic launch system to rocket its trains out of the loading platform.

What makes a roller coaster ride exciting is the variety of G-forces, which include lateral G-forces going around a corner, weightlessness at the top of a hill, heaviness at the bottom and at the start ane end of loops.

The first looping coasters had circular loops. But dangerous G forces (up to 10 Gs) caused injuries such as whiplash. Anton Schwarzkopf and Werner Stengel developed the Clothoid loop with the intent of providing a smoother ride. They decreased the radius of the loop at the top and increased the radius at the bottom. This resulted in a smooth, wide curve at the bottom and a narrow curve at the top, where more centrifugal force was required to overcome gravity. This reduced forces to 3-4 Gs.
See: Roller Coaster G-Forces
G forces on roller coaster no threat.
Roller Coaster Physics


Cheetah 64-70 MPH5
Pronghorn Antelope 61 MPHtop speed
Pronghorn Antelope 35 4 (sustained)
Some Geese and Ducks 60 MPH
Peregrine Falcon 40 MPH - crusing
70 MPH - short bursts in level flight
200+ MPH - in a dive.
Lion 50
Quarter horse 47.5
Greyhound 39
Deer 30-35
Cat 30
Grizzley Bear 30
Human 27.89
Elephant 25
Black Mamba Snake 20
Killer Whale 34
Sailfish 68
Bicycle 10-16
Canoe 2-3
Ski Touring 1.25-3
Hiking 2-4level no pack
Beginner: 1.5-2
1.5-3level with pack
.5-1.5uphill with pack
F1 Racecar 230 MPH 5. above
Indianapolis 500 qualifying 237 MPH (1996) Speeds are currently lower because of safety restrictions. 6
Daytona 500 Stock car qualifying 210 MPH (1987)
Bugatti Veyron 253 MPH
Top Fuel Dragster 333 MPH  
Concord jet Mach 2.2
F16 Falcon Mach 2
MiG-25 Mach 3.2
SR-71 Blackbird Mach 3.3
X-15A-2 rocket plane Mach 6.7
pistol bullet 80-900 MPH
rifle bullet 400-3,300 MPH - Mach 5 M-16 2,200 mph
Rail Gun 13,000 MPH Uses electromagnetic (EM) propulsion
X-43 Scramjet Mach 7(unpiloted, launched from the air)
Space Shuttle (in orbit) Mach 27
Atlas 5 rocket w/ 1,054 lb. spacecraft for Pluto mission. Mach 54
(36,000 MPH)
Sound 660-771 MPH
Earth Rotation 800 MPH

5. An antelope can maintain this speed for 4 mi. while the cheetah can only go for short distances.

6.Speeds for Indi cars and stock cars have been lowered with engine restrictions because of safety and cost considerations. Indy cars were around 228 MPH and Stock cars at super speedways are about 188 MPH in 2006. Both are 2.5 mile tracks. Banking at Indi is 9 degrees; at Daytone it's 31 degrees. Average speed for races are lower because of caution laps at lower speed.

Speed of sound in air:
At see level = 331.4 + 0.6TC where TC is the celsius temperature.
  at 70°F = 771 MPH at 32°F = 742 MPH
At 20,000 feet = 660 MPH = Mach 1

6. Mach (M) = Speed of sound
  (For aircraft generally considered to be the speed at 20,000 ft. = 660 MPH)
  M = 0.8 to 1.2 transonic
  M - 1.2 to 5.0 supersonic
  M greater than 5.0 hypersonic

See Also:
Historical Travel Times to California
HyperPhysics at Georgia State U.
Speed Tables (Hiker, Bike, Canoe, SKi) at Search and Rescue Soc. of British Columbia

last updated 14 Apr 2006