Verb: A term used to describe an extremely quick acceleration from a complete stop while in a car. When "launching" a car, one places the car in gear, revs the engine to high RPM, then drops the clutch in very rapidly (see dumping the clutch). The idea behind a launch is to accelerate as quickly as possible from a standstill without experiencing wheelspin or loss of traction, in which one has to find the correct RPM (engine speed) to release the clutch in order to accelerate. This is different form just plain "dumping the clutch", where the revs are usually higher and the balance of traction is not as perfect.
Launches are almost always done in a car with a manual transmission and clutch the driver can operate; however, some drivers with automatic transmissions choose to use a similar technique when accelerating from a standstill, where the brake pedal is applied, the engine is revved, and then released to launch the car forward. This technique often puts an excessive amount of stress on the car's drive train.
On newer sports cars with formula one style sequential gearboxes and no clutch, the car's computer will often be programmed for acceleration from a standstill, usually initiated by a "launch" button or "race mode" the driver can push.
While most street racers enjoy showing off by dumping the clutch and smoking away, tires burning, a more skilled driver will execute a perfect launch, accelerating the car much quicker, with just the slightest hint of wheelspin.
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