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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 
  • In the Lamput episode "Arm Wrestling", the docs' boss arrives at the site of the arm wrestling matches on his motorcycle, which he rides fast enough that it leaves a trail of flames behind it.
  • 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 

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 

  • 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: In "The Waters of Mars", Gadget the robot does this after the Doctor soups it up.
  • 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".


    Video Games 
  • In Spider-Man: The Movie 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 III; 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.
  • The Pokemon Scorbunny has a yellowish pad on each of its feet that can exude intense heat when it is exercising, which causes it to leave flaming footprints behind.
  • Warframe: The Nezha Warframe has "Fire Walker" as one of its abilities. Not only does it leave behind a trail of fire when used, it also grants a speed boost.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes: In "There They Go-Go-Go!" the Road Runner ends the Chase Scene this way. In "Stop! Look! And Hasten!" the Coyote takes some Leg Muscle Vitamins to get this effect for the climactic Chase Scene.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Video Example(s):


Stop! Look! And Hasten!

Upon ingesting a boxful of ACME Triple-Strength Fortified Leg Muscle Vitamins, Wile E. Coyote gains muscular legs and then takes off like a bullet, leaving a trail of fire in his wake. Unfortunately, his chance of catching the Road Runner is thwarted by a metal pop-up wall he set up earlier in the cartoon.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / BurningRubber

Media sources:

Main / BurningRubber