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Burning Rubber

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"I never ever had a love
Put the pedal to the metal and
Burn Rubber on me
On me."
The Gap Band, "Burn Rubber"

In comics and cartoons, someone running or driving very quickly will leave a trail of fire in his or her wake.

Can be justified, albeit thinly, in the case of a wheeled vehicle (friction causes heat and tires are flammable — though in that case only the tires should be burning).note  Other times the trail of fire isn't caused by tires or indeed wheels, which may make you wonder what exactly is causing those flames. But honestly, when this trope is employed well, you won't worry about such niggling little details. It's cool.



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    Asian Animation 
  • Oye Golu: In "Cycle Race", Golu gives Adi stronger thighs to help him win the bicycle race. His stronger thighs cause his bicycle to leave a trail of flames behind it as he rides it.

     Comic Books  


  • Back to the Future: The Delorean tends to leave a pair of these behind during a time travel departure. Including when airborne.
    • Remember that time-travel is signified with a tremendous explosion that bursts out and is immediately sucked back in. The fire-trails left behind are most likely a result of that explosion, which momentarily ignites the ground and immediate atmosphere, and the fire-trails prove the car's potential trajectory from its last known location.
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (the sledding scene).
  • The Norwegian film Pinchcliffe Grand Prix has a variation. The Il Tempo Gigante doesn't leave a trail of fire, but it does cause the asphalt to curl up in strips from the heat.
  • In Bedknobs and Broomsticks, during the soccer game on the island of talking animals, the cheetah player runs so fast he leaves these.

  • Binky in the Discworld books is described as leaving a trail like this in the form of a pair of glowing blue hoof-prints, probably as a homage to Back to the Future.

     Live Action TV  
  • Doctor Who: The robot Gadget does this after the Doctor soups it up in the episode "The Waters of Mars".
  • Tested and busted on MythBusters. Jamie got a tremendous amount of smoke from their test car's tires note , and after an hour of smouldering the rubber powder did begin to burn. But they were unable to get actual ignition of the tires, even after adding a "gasoline leak".

  • The playfield for Evel Knievel shows Evel's motorcycle leaving fiery trails in its wake.

     Video Games  
  • In Spider-Man for the Gamecube, when using the Green Goblin as the player character, one of the available attacks was to run into enemies, leaving a trail of fire in your wake.
  • In Diablo II, the sorceress has a spell called "Blaze" which literally leaves a trail of fire wherever she walks.
  • God of War 3; Kratos can do this in with the Boots of Hermes.
  • In Fable I the Battle Charge spell leaves twin trails of fire behind the hero.
  • In Burnout Paradise, get the Jansen P12 88 Special and hit the boost.
  • Mega Man 7: This was probably the inspiration for Turbo Man, a Robot Master that transforms into a racecar, and his weapon, the Scorch Wheel.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

  • Road Runner from Looney Tunes. And Wile E. Coyote, in the cartoon where he takes leg muscle vitamins.
  • In one SpongeBob SquarePants episode, Sandy was going so fast on a "sandboard" (the underwater equivalent of a snowboard) she catches fire and leaves a trail of glass behind. I think there were a few more that had the usual trail of fire.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons:
    • In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, this was how Sonic's speed was frequently shown. The episode, "The Mystery of the Missing Hi-tops" reveals that Sonic's shoes are friction-proof, and thus Sonic's feet would literally burn up if he tried running without them.
    • Spoofed through Epic Fail in the Sonic Boom episode, "Into the Wilderness". Sonic runs laps around a pile of leaves Knuckles set up in an attempt to create a fire; the only thing that gets burning are Sonic's shoes.
  • Back to the Future: The Animated Adaptation extended the "two flaming tire trails" to anything that traveled through time, including a barrel sliding down a waterfall.
    • The opening features a scene (taken from one episode) where the trails go through a wall as the DeLorean timeshifts just before hitting it.
  • Hunter from Road Rovers leaves one behind him when he uses his super speed. Lampshaded as early as the second episode.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Rainbow Dash is capable of pulling this off (with rainbow flames, no less), as seen in the episode "May The Best Pet Win!"
  • Kaeloo:
    • In one episode, Mr. Cat and Stumpy both kick a soccer ball at the same time with all their strength, and the ball leaves a trail of fire behind it. It misses the goal and destroys almost everything else.
    • In Episode 4, Quack Quack leaves a flaming trail behind him when he drives a motorized kick-scooter.

    Real Life 

  • Not generally possible in Real Life for automobile tires, but aircraft tires can occasionally heat up enough to catch fire if they go flat during takeoff or (sometimes) landing. This caused the 1991 crash of Nigeria Airlines Flight 2120, when the crew retracted their aircraft's landing gear after takeoff without realizing that the gear was on fire, allowing it to burn through various important parts of the aircraft and eventually cause the plane to break up in midair.
    • Not generally possible but with the right car and tires, it is indeed glorious. Seems to be a thing in Australia, looking at Youtube for "flaming burnout" videos.


Example of: