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Everyone knows Formula 1 cars are fast, but exactly how fast are these race cars traveling down the track? Check out some of the F1, Nascar, IndyCar, and MotoGP bikes that are racing around the world and the top speeds they can reach. Which one do you think is the fastest?

The answer is: fast. Especially for Formula 1.

Scuderia Ferrari F1 Driver Charles Leclerc cradles his helmet in his hands.
Charles Leclerc | Joe Portlock, Formula 1 via Getty Images

There are a few types of race cars that people think of when the word “racing” comes up. IndyCars are definitely one of the fastest cars out there. According to AutoSport, IndyCar’s top speeds are 380km/h or 236 mph. These can accelerate 0/100km/h in about three seconds.

The IndyCar race is slightly different, as most of the cars are set up similarly for a more level playing field. This results in slower lap times.

For Formula 1 cars, the top speeds are 360km/h or 223 mph. The 0-100km/h acceleration in 2.6 seconds, but the 0-300km/h in 10.6 seconds. “In 2019, both Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez hit 359.7km/h in the speed trap, with Vettel managing it at Ferrari’s home race at Monza and Perez at his home race in Mexico,” Anna Duxbury of AutoSport said. Formula 1 also has different classes, such as Formula 2, Formula 3, and Formula E, which all have different cars and speeds.

What about Nascar’s top speeds?

Nascar is the slowest in the bunch! America’s favorite pastime of going in circles boasts 321km/h / 199mph as the top speed. The 0-96km/h in 3.4 seconds. These speeds might seem much slower by comparison, but that’s because they are capping the speeds for safety reasons. NASCAR had a record number of injuries to drivers and spectators, so they started lowering the speeds.

Crashes in NASCAR races have cost millions of dollars in damage. And in the case of a total loss, a team can lose around $500,000.

In MotoGP, top speeds are 356km/h or 221mph with a similar 0-100km/h of 2.6 seconds. MotoGP also has different classes titled Moto2 and Moto3. “Andrea Dovizioso holds the record for the top recorded speed for MotoGP, reaching 356.7km/h at Mugello in 2019 during FP3 on a Ducati.” These bikes have a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 2.6 seconds but take approximately 11.8 seconds to reach 300km/h.

Being fast isn’t the most important part of a race car

But safety is. Each year, the cars change to become faster and safer for the drivers. With this comes a change to how much things might cost. One such feature is the halo device.

The halo, which is arguably the second most important piece after the engine, costs around $20,000. This is the piece that protects the driver’s head in case of a crash or flying debris.

During the 2020 season, Haas driver Romain Grosjean was involved in a horrific crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix. During the race, Grosjean’s car split in two and caught fire as it hit the guardrail. Grosjean credits the halo with saving his life.

With that perspective, a halo is an invaluable tool in the Formula 1 arsenal. When we think about it this way, it makes sense Nascar would slow down some of the races to save lives. F1 cars might be the fastest on this list, but they are always working toward being safer.


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