How do stunt drivers drive on two wheels?


How do stunt drivers drive on two wheels?


Stunt drivers call getting one side of a car off the ground and driving it that way “skiing” or more precisely, “high skiing,” a term that’s been around since the earliest automotive thrill shows of the mid-1930s. If you plan on trying this, be prepared to roll your car onto its roof. Because you will. Every stunt driver who performs this technique has rolled many cars learning how to do it. Tonny Petersen, a 78-year-old Danish acrobat–turned–stunt driver, who has been high-skiing cars for more than 50 years, says, “Oh, my God, I’ve rolled my share of cars. I have no idea how many. When you are driving high skis, you have flat tires. Tires explode, and the car goes one of two ways depending on the surface, potholes, and soft spots.” Remarkably, Petersen has never been injured in his long stunt-driving career, which has included jumping cars off ramps and through rings of fire. Top speed on two wheels, he says, is no more than 40 mph: “Any faster and it gets kind of hairy.” Speaking of hairy, don’t try this at home.

Step One

Inflate the tires that will remain on the ground to about 80 psi [fig. 1] to keep their beads from losing contact with the wheels.

Step Two

You did already weld the spider gears to the side gears inside your differential, right? If not, do so now—open diffs only allow for coasting.

Step Three

Set up a ramp about 30 inches tall and 10 feet long [fig. 2]. Were it us, we would use reasonably sturdy materials for this.

Step Four

Drive the normally inflated side of the car onto the ramp at about 30 mph—exact speed varies by vehicle.

Step Five

As the car clears the ramp, turn the steering wheel toward the high side [fig. 3].

Step Six

The car will leap onto two wheels and threaten to roll over. Your goal is to prevent that from happening. Balance the car with appropriate steering commands.

Step Seven

Once the car stabilizes on two wheels, use both the accelerator and the steering to maintain balance. Too much throttle will roll the car; insufficient throttle will drop the car back to earth.

Step Eight

If you get good, you may be tempted to drive more than a mile like this, maybe run an errand up to the local convenience store. Don't. The front tire in contact with the ground will inevitably fail. High-skiing for long distances requires specially built tires, which your car does not have. Not even if it's a rental car.


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