What’s a Burnout?

stopped burnoutThe origins of burnouts can be traced to drag racing, where they have a practical purpose: drag racing tires perform better at higher temperatures, and a burnout is the quickest way to raise tire temperature immediately prior to a race.

Burnouts eventually became a serious form of competition and entertainment in their own right. Considerable prize money or goods are sometimes involved, and cars may even be sponsored or purpose-built specifically as “burnout cars”.

Burnout contests are judged on crowd response, with style and attitude therefore being important factors.

Burnouts are also common in informal street racing, usually for show. As with all street racing activities, burnouts on public property are illegal. Burnouts are also occasionally performed by winning drivers at the end of NASCAR races to celebrate their victory.

In the case of a motorcycle, the stunter uses the power of the engine and braking force to cause the rear wheel to spin, heating the rear tire and producing smoke. There are several variations:

Suicide Burnout — Burnout with the rider dismounted and standing in front of the motorcycle.

Chainsaw — An extreme form of Burnout. The stunter stands beside a motorcycle laying on its side, holding the motorcycle exclusively by the right handle bar; then causing the bike to “orbit” around the rider while maintaining control during the burnout.


Merry-Go-Round — The rider lays the bike on its side and climbs onto it. The rider then leans back on the bike while holding the throttle, causing the bike so spin round while doing a burnout.