What fast looks like  JUL 14 2009

People like to go fast and film themselves doing so. Modern technology offers a variety of ways to both go faster than ever before and record that speed for posterity. But for something to look fast on video, there needs to be a frame of reference for the viewer -- something to hurtle past or whoosh by -- and maybe even a hint of danger. Here are a selection of videos of people doing just that: traveling at high speeds in cars, on train tracks, through the air, and down mountains in close proximity to traffic, large rocks, and thin atmospheres. Most of these videos are filmed from a first-person perspective so that when you watch them, you can imagine that you're the one zooming along.

In 1976, Claude Lelouch mounted a camera on the front of his Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 and drove through the streets of Paris -- running red lights, jumping curbs and possibly reaching speeds upwards of 120 mph -- before reaching his date near the Sacré Coeur. The result is the film C'était un rendez-vous, 8 uncut minutes of insane urban driving.

Base jumpers equipped with wingsuits can glide very fast very close to the ground. Perhaps the most insane videos on the page...they're not doing 1200 mph or anything, but they are awfully close to the ground with few safety options if they slip up.

The lads at Top Gear took the Bugatti Veyron to its top speed of 253 mph on a test track. The test driver seems to have had what I would term a religious experience at the top speed.

Two gents in powder-blue suits speed down a California hill on skateboards. Holy crap!

240 mph on a Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle. Oh, and he does a wheelie from 70 to 140 mph. (Note: Wikipedia says the bike has an "electronically restricted" top speed of 188 mph. Either the owner a) removed the restriction, or b) tweaked the speedometer to display higher than normal speeds.)

In 1960, Joseph Kittinger reached a speed of 714 mph after jumping from a helium balloon at an altitude of 102,800 feet.

A French TGV train reaches a top speed of 357 mph in a 2007 test.

A camera mounted on the external tank records the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in May 2009. There's not a lot to whoosh past here, but at an eventual 18,000 mph, the pace at which the Shuttle leaves the Earth behind is astounding.

While skydiving, both of Michael Holmes' chutes failed as his helmet camera recorded his crash landing into some thick bushes. (He lived.)

Footage of Alex Roy and David Maher on the road as they sped across the entire United States in just over 32 hours, an unofficial world record. There is a book and a blog of the experience.

Passenger seat and road-side views of a Lamborghini Murcielago doing 219 mph on the 202 freeway in Mesa, Arizona.

Read more posts on kottke.org about:
cars   Claude Lelouch   Joseph Kittinger   Space Shuttle   video

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