This crazy Hot Wheels story may leave you feeling loopy
There are mind-boggling world records—like the 3:43.13 mile that Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj ran in 1999—and then there are those that leave you scratching your head and wondering, “Wait, are you sure?” This one sent us down a rabbit hole.
We recently came across a video suggesting that in February 2021 a pair of filmmakers set a “new world record” by completing 10 loop-the-loops with a Hot Wheels car, using only gravity to propel the diecast toy. To date, the video has received an astonishing 2.6 million views. However, only two months later in India, Rohan and Rahul Dayal matched the number of loops, and last week the Guinness Book of World Records recognized the brothers as the record holders.
Guinness did not mention the previous 10-loop feat, which is bad enough, but then we stumbled upon a third video, posted in May 2021 by Sonic Zoom Tracks in Malaysia, which shows several Hot Wheels cars completing 12 loops. Odd, right? It gets odder.
None of those three Hot Wheels loop-the-loops is remotely close to the actual record documented in a fourth video. Posted in December 2020, it shows Andrew Scorgie and his son, Jordan, constructing and testing a track that starts on the roof of the family’s home and includes 36 loop-the-loops before it reaches the ground. After some initial failures and adjustments, all 36 loops are successfully negotiated by one of Jordan’s Hot Wheels.
Aside from the obvious confusion about who holds the world record—Guinness has not responded to our request for clarification—another question arose. Theoretically, couldn’t the Hot Wheels loop-the-loop record be broken over and over and over simply by maintaining the same angle and increasing the height and length of the track?
“There is not a realistic inherent physical limit as to how many loops you can do,” says Paul Hosmer, Associate Professor of Physics at Michigan’s Hillsdale College. “It is more of an engineering, quality-control, and time-management issue, not an inherent limitation of physics.
“In the videos it appears that the car goes at an approximately constant velocity all the way, which indicates that various things like friction, drag, and energy losses into the track are helping to moderate its speed … So as is, I would think the loops could be added almost indefinitely.”
Hosmer adds, “If you made the track and cars differently, with lower friction and reduced drag, and probably if the track was not as flexible so it didn’t dissipate some of the energy through flexing, then you might attain higher and higher speed, and then perhaps some high-speed considerations might come into play … But as long as the speed is basically constant, you just aren’t going to run into any of these issues.”
As for the Scorgies’ apparent record of 36 loop-the-loops, Andrew Scorgie mentioned in the comment section of his video that he applied for Guinness Book of World Records verification long ago. Six months ago, in fact. By the time Guinness gets around to recognizing that record, a new one may have already been established.
One thing is certain: Hosmer won’t be the one to do it.
“Given my experience with Hot Wheels tracks as a child,” the professor says, “I would not have the patience.”