• Jan 2, 2007


When the owners of two-ton monsters get together at the annual Southern Super Heavyweight Shootout each November, Sir Issac Newton's laws get put to the test. As evidence, we submit the above video from the 2006 gathering, which pitted Mike Smith's 1995 Impala SS up against Paul Roswell's 1994 Impala SS in the final round of the "Big Dog" bracket.

Both cars run somewhat similar powertrain setups, with each ingesting large amounts of nitrous oxide into LT1-based small-blocks that are punched out to 383 cubic inches. GM's bulletproof Turbo 400 is used to deliver the power out back, where Smith's car hangs a Moser-built Ford 9" rear axle from a custom four-link suspension and Roswell's uses GM 8.5" 10-bolt and aftermarket control arms.

The result, as demonstrated here, is an extremely fast 10.8-second run at nearly 125 MPH for Roswell's 4400lb Impala - and that's the slower of the two. Smith's 4040lb sedan ran the quarter in 9.7 seconds at just over 138 MPH, courtesy of its more extreme engine and suspension setup. More details on these cars -- and several other rather quick gazelles -- are available here.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      I said acceleration potential. That is why modern racing is all about aerodynamic downforce.
      There is a limit to the scaling-material sciences engineering, but the bugatti veyron works just fine.
      F=ma
      mg*mu=ma
      g*mu=a
      The acceleration potential is limited by gravity (don't see that changing too much in the future) and tire traction. Drag slicks are fun, look at how much the impala's hood jumps on launch.
      actual acceleration is determined by power to load. and there is a limit imposed by the tires by how much specific shear stress they can handle.
      • 8 Years Ago
      True to an extent, but Newton's F = m * a is a valid law.
      • 8 Years Ago
      MikeW, seriously? To do some basic algebra, something I'd imagine would look like greek to you, to what J Finz said. a = F/m.
      a = ACCELERATION
      F = force
      m = MASS

      But you must be right, I mean one of the basic physics formulas that states that acceleration is INVERSELY proportional to the MASS of the car. That can't be right.

      (/sarcasm). It is true that traction does play a very important part in acceleration. I drive an AWD DSM that can, from a stop, walk all over FWD or RWD cars with more horsepower much of the time. This is related to traction.

      Also, ever heard of a power to weight ratio? Maybe why a 1 ton lotus can out accelerate a car 2 ton car of the same weight. That's not just traction related...
      • 8 Years Ago
      Thank God the cop cars don't have that motor.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Put simply, a heavier car can generate more forward force, but also takes more force to accelerate (and, as Eric mentioned, you can't assume the coefficient of friction is the same). Of course, the car eventually reaches a speed where it isn't traction limited, and low mass wins.

      What hurts the top speed of light cars with good power to weight ratios is that the same drag from wind resistance acts on a car regardless of its mass. So, at a certain point it is actually beneficial to have the same power to weight, but more of both.

      Watching those things jump off the line was pretty impressive.
      • 8 Years Ago
      bruddahmanmatt - The people talking about the laws of physics are actually *defending* the Impala...and if you had a degree in physics you'd realize that.

      If you do actually have a degree, please let me know what college you attended so I can avoid hiring any of its graduates next time I need to fill an engineering position.

      • 8 Years Ago
      Sorry, a 2 ton car with the same POWER...oops
      • 8 Years Ago
      Quite an audience. Nice turnout.
      • 8 Years Ago
      MikeW - I think the point of the article is that a sub-10-second run in a 2+ ton car is pretty impressive, simply because of the power required...which is why Eric mentioned Newton in the first sentence.

      Yes, theoretically you could make a loaded school bus run the quarter in under 10 seconds...but it'd have to have one heck of an impressive drivetrain to do it. I wonder if anyone's ever tried to put a NHRA Top Fuel motor into a school bus...I'd pay to see that, but I don't think I'd want to be one of the passengers.