The Physics
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Speed of a Car: The Run

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Nissan's promotional car film "The Run" is directed by two-time Academy Award winner John Bruno using fourteen different cameras. The film features a 350Z Track model accelerating through the streets of Prague in the Czech Republic. This six and a half minute film uses eight different camera angles to portray the elegance and speed of the "Z-car", as they call it. Award-winning stunt driver Jimmy Roberts is the man behind the wheel.

We analyzed the film in an attempt to determine the Z-car's velocity during various segments of his trip. We started measurements when the car turned onto Rasslova street at the Dancing House in the Nové Mesto neighborhood and ended when the 350Z crossed the Mánesüv Bridge. By tracking the driver's turns through the city, we were able to identify landmarks without ever having visited Prague. The Z-car's route was determined by comparing scaled tourist maps found on Google Image Search with the above picture that came with "The Run" DVD. We copied, pasted and rotated the map scales on the digital maps to estimate the distances traveled. By closely watching the film, we were able to record the time it took for the car to travel the distances between landmarks. Using this data, a distance vs. time graph was produced. The average velocity can then be calculated by taking the slope of the least squares regression line of this data.

graph

The route observed began at the Dancing House on Rassolva Street in the Nové Mesto neighborhood. Then the car turned left onto Jungmannova Street, passing New Town Hall, and continues until it turns right on Rytirskà Street. The car then takes a series of back streets in between the St. Mesto and Josefov neighborhoods until he reaches the Mánesüv Bridge, where we ended our analysis of the film.

Location Time
(s)
Distance
(m)
Average Speed
(m/s)
Average Speed
(km/h)
Average Speed
(mph)
The Dancing House 0 0 0 0 0
Jungmannova Street 22 800 36.36 130.90 81.34
Rytirskà Street 40 1100 27.50 99.00 61.52
Beginning of Back Streets 33 200 6.06 21.82 13.56
Mánesüv Bridge 90 1000 11.11 40.00 24.85
End of Mánesüv Bridge 9 250 27.78 100.01 62.14
Total 194 3350 17.27 62.17 38.63

Over the total distance we observed, the car's average velocity was 17.27 m/s, 62.17 km/h, or 38.63 mph.

Sources:

Genna Ableman, Harvey Lei, Michelle Fung, Jenny Hua -- 2005

Physics on Film
  1. Feature Films
    1. Tension in Spider-Man's webs
    2. Speed of a car: Bad Boys II
    3. Speed of a car: The Blues Brothers
    4. Speed of a car: The French Connection
    5. Speed of a car: Le Mans (Steve McQueen 1971)
  2. One Reelers
    1. Speed of a car: C'était un Rendezvous
    2. Speed of a car: The Run
  3. Short Video Clips
    1. Speed of a baseball: Bird Baseball
    2. Speed of a cliff diver: Iraqi Olympic Diving
    3. Speed of a motorcycle: Loading a Bike
    4. Speed of a snowmobile: Snow Jump