A rocket car is a land rocket vehicle powered by a rocket engine. A rocket dragster is a rocket car used for competing in drag racing, and this type holds the unofficial world record for the 1/4 mile.
Rocket cars are capable of very high speeds, and at one time held the land speed record (now held by a jet car). Rocket cars differ from jet-powered cars in that they carry both fuel and oxidizer on board, eliminating the need for an air inlet and compressor which add weight and increase drag. Rocket cars run their engines for relatively short periods of time, usually less than 20 seconds, but the acceleration levels that rocket cars can reach due to their high thrust-to-weight ratio are very high and high speeds are fairly easily achieved.
Sammy Miller in 1984 at Santa Pod Raceway recorded the quickest quarter mile elapsed time ever of 3.58 seconds at 386.26 mph using a hydrogen peroxide powered engine car called Vanishing Point.The record was witnessed by 10,000 spectators and officials in attendance. This is in excess of the performance of more familiar piston engined dragsters.
In America, rocket dragsters fell into disuse after their hydrogen peroxide propellant became too expensive and they are banned in most events for safety reasons, mostly due to their very high performance. However, they continue to run at several European venues.
Notable rocket cars
- Bloodhound SSC, hybrid jet/rocket car under development as of 2013[update]
- Blue Flame, a vehicle that held the land speed record
- Budweiser Rocket, the first land vehicle claimed to have unofficially broken the Sound barrier
- Heylandt Rocket Car, see Arthur Rudolph
- Opel RAK.1, the first rocket car
- Valier-Heylandt Rak 7, the first rocket car with liquid propulsion
- Kitty O'Neil and the Space Age Racing Team, setting the all-time quarter-mile record at 3.72 seconds in 1977
- JATO Rocket Car, an urban legend
- Rocket sled
- Turbonique, a pioneer rocket power company
- The Devil at Your Heels, a documentary covering an attempt to cross the Saint Lawrence River in a rocket car
- "Drag Racing Story of the Day - The Rocketman Checks In: Ky Michaelson Lists All his Rocket Dragsters". Draglist.com. Retrieved 2011-08-06.
- "The Laffin Gas Project". Laffin-gas.com. Retrieved 2011-08-06.
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- Early History of the Hydrogen Peroxide Rocket Dragster by Franklin Ratliff
- "Latest Rocket Car Uses Power In Steering", September 1932, Popular Mechanics
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