The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 200: Indy Car Special

Premier Date: May 22, 2013

A human can outrun a racecar in a 30-foot (9.1 m) race.


At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Jamie and Adam took turns driving a racecar while the other tried to outrun it. Each tried three times, and although Adam had one very close heat on foot, but they both ultimately failed to outrun the car. Next, Olympic runner Wallace Spearmon was invited to race against IndyCar Series driver Ryan Briscoe. Although the runner could accelerate faster for the first 5 or 10 feet (1.5 or 3 m), the racecar ultimately won every race by a comfortable margin.

During a road race, a racecar can generate enough suction against the ground to lift a manhole cover from its manhole.


At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Adam and Jamie installed a mock manhole cover over a mock manhole that was dug just for this myth. The cover was made of clear plastic so a camera could see through and it weighed 30 pounds (14 kg). Additional weights were added to match the weight of a cast iron cover and a vent was added to the hole to prevent a partial vacuum. To prevent serious damage to the car, they limited the upward motion of the manhole cover to 0.5 inches (13 mm).

IndyCar Series racer Logan Gomez drove over the manhole cover at 100 and 150 miles per hour (160 km/h and 240 km/h), but the cover did not budge. After removing the extra weights on the cover for a final test, the car lifted it slightly and imparted a force of 37 pounds (160 N). The myth was declared busted because the car could not lift a real manhole cover.

A racecar driver can lose 10 pounds (4.5 kg) over the course of a 3-hour race.


For their initial test, the Build Team spent three hours (the duration of an Indianapolis 500 race) in a dry sauna. Grant and Kari lost 1 pound (0.4 kg) each, while Tory lost 2 pounds (0.9 kg). Later, Tory spent three hours driving a racecar around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and only lost 3 pounds (1.4 kg). As a final test, the Build Team drove laps for three hours around Thunderhill Raceway Park in California, where the ambient temperature was 90°F (30°C). Kari lost 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg), Tory lost 5 pounds (2.3 kg), and Grant lost 4.5 pounds (2.0 kg). Although they could not entirely replicate the myth, they deemed it plausible due to the more extreme conditions in a real professional race.