How It Works: The World’s Fastest Rollercoaster

To fling passengers at up to 149 miles per hour, Formula Rossa uses a propulsion system inspired by aircraft-carrier jet launcher

Danny Schumpert and Jason Bliney

Illustrations by Aaron Newman; Flash design by Josh Rashkin

Few people experience the adrenaline spike that a Formula One driver gets tearing down a straightaway at 230 mph. To bring that thrill to the masses, the owners of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi—the world’s largest indoor theme park—built the Formula Rossa roller coaster, which opened last October.

The coaster re-creates the Formula One experience to the fullest: Riders strap into F1 shaped trains and are hurled at a top speed of 149 mph around a 1.3-mile steel track, the shape of which was inspired by the legendary Italian racetrack Autodromo Nazionale Monza. To achieve such speeds, Intamin Amusement Rides, the coaster’s Liechtenstein-based manufacturer, employed a hydraulic launch system similar in concept to those that fling fighter jets off aircraft carriers. The power is enough to whip the riders over the course in 92 seconds.


Illustrations by Aaron Newman; Flash Design by Josh Rashkin.

More How It Works:

This month’s How It Works section is brought to you by Digi-Key. All posts are purely editorial content, which we are pleased to present with the help of a sponsor; the sponsor has no input in the content itself.