Top Fuel Dragsters


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Baraboo, WI, USA
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Car Phanatics
What 10,000 horsepower does to a top fuel tire at launch.


* One Top Fuel dragster 500 cubic-inch Hemi engine makes more horsepower (10,000 HP) than the first 5 rows at the Daytona 500.

* Under full throttle, a dragster engine consumes 1.2-1.5 gallons of nitro methane per second; a fully loaded 747 consumes jet fuel at the same rate with 25% less energy being produced.

* A stock Dodge Hemi V8 engine cannot produce enough power to merely drive the dragster's supercharger.

* With 3000 CFM of air being rammed in by the supercharger on overdrive, the fuel mixture is compressed into a near-solid form before ignition. Cylinders run on the verge of hydraulic lock at full throttle.

* At the stoichiometric 1.7:1 air/fuel mixture for nitro methane the flame front temperature measures 7050 degrees F.

* Nitromethane burns yellow. The spectacular white flame seen above the stacks at night is raw burning hydrogen, dissociated from atmospheric water vapor by the searing exhaust gases.

* Dual magnetos supply 44 amps to each spark plug.
This is the output of an arc welder in each cylinder.

* Spark plug electrodes are totally consumed during a pass. After 1/2 way, the engine is dieseling from compression plus the glow of exhaust valves at 1400 degrees F. The engine can only be shut down by cutting the fuel flow.

* If spark momentarily fails early in the run, unburned nitro builds up in the affected cylinders and then explodes with sufficient force to blow cylinder heads off the block in pieces or split the block in half.

* Dragsters reach over 300 MPH before you have completed reading this sentence.

* In order to exceed 300 MPH in 4.5 seconds, dragsters must accelerate an average of over 4 G's. In order to reach 200 MPH well before half-track, the launch acce leration approaches 8 G's.

* Top Fuel engines turn approximately 540 revolutions from light to light!

* Including the burnout, the engine must only survive 900 revolutions under load.

* The redline is actually quite high at 9500 RPM.

* THE BOTTOM LINE: Assuming all the equipment is paid off, the crew worked for free, & for once, NOTHING BLOWS UP, each run costs an estimated $1,000 per second.

0 to 100 MPH in .8 seconds (the first 60 feet of the run)
0 to 200 MPH in 2.2 seconds (the first 350 feet of the run)
6 g-forces at the starting line (nothing accelerates faster on land)
6 negative g-forces upon deployment of twin 'chutes at 300 MPH An NHRA Top Fuel Dragster accelerates quicker than any other land vehicle on earth . . quicker than a jet fighter plane . . . quicker than the space shuttle.

The current Top Fuel dragster elapsed time record is 4.420 seconds for the quarter-mile (2004, Doug Kalitta). The top speed record is 337.58 MPH as measured over the last 66' of the run (2005, Tony Schumacher).

Putting this all into perspective:

You are driving the average $140,000 Lingenfelter twin-turbo powered Corvette Z06. Over a mile up the road, a Top Fuel dragster is staged & ready to launch down a quarter-mile strip as you pass. You have the advantage of a flying start. You run the 'Vette hard up through the gears and blast across the starting line & pass the dragster at an honest 200 MPH. The 'tree' goes green for both of you at that moment.

The dragster launches & starts after you. You keep your foot down hard, but you hear an incredibly brutal whine that sears your eardrums & within 3 seconds the dragster catches & passes you.
He beats you to the finish line, a quarter-mile away from where you just passed him. Think about it - from a standing start, the dragster had spotted you 200 MPH & not only caught, but nearly blasted you off the road when he passed you within a mere 1320 foot long race!

That's acceleration!
Nothing like the smell of burning rubber and nitro methane...ahhh clears the sinuses...
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Don't ya love it?? I do.:)
The fuel funny cars and dragsters are only going 1000' now, not the 1/4. I think the record is 3.63 et and 337 mph now.
They also tear down the engine to the bare block and put it back together in 45 min. between rounds... try that on a 650 even with friends helping.
Don't ya love it?? I do.:)
The fuel funny cars and dragsters are only going 1000' now, not the 1/4. I think the record is 3.63 et and 337 mph now.
They also tear down the engine to the bare block and put it back together in 45 min. between rounds... try that on a 650 even with friends helping.
I see the records mentioned are 2004 2005 is this blurb from about that era?
so they took 320' off the distance but they are still going way more than 300MPH? That's insane.
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I am a life long drag racing fan...Attending NHRA National events at Sanair in 1985 and 1987 and at Englishtown NJ in 1992.
Pro Stock being my favorite class and I am a big Warren Johnson fan
2 things however ruined the sport for me personally. First is the evolution of the multi car teams which evolved in the 1990's...and is diluted the 16 car field in all 3 pro classes
The second is running the TF and FC classes at 1000 ft as opposed to 1320 ft which was done after the fatal crash of Scott Kilitta.
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Back in the late 1970's /early 80's Tucson dragway..A spectator could come within 5 feet of everything..burnout area..starting line ..only a chain link fence separated you from them. The force of percussions from those engines(TF and FC) will knock a spectator off their feet. My friends taught me how to put my body leaned into the fence as we are covering our ears ..because if you dont'll get knocked over from the force of the shock waves hitting your body...pretty intense...Not sure but i think they moved the fences back a bit these days...
Used to live in NJ too..Many times been to Englishtown Raceway...good times..They no longer particpate in the Winter Nationals though...
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The percussion from those Nitro methane engines back then were prolly no more than 2500 HP compared to today's machines but it was still intense...and shook the crap outta just takes over you...I'll never forget it...
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Thunder Valley, earlier this summer. Going to the Carolina Nats in October. I do wish they'd go back to a full 1/4 mile for Top Fuel, but I understand why they haven't. I think I'd rather NHRA restrict engine size instead of track length, but it ain't my decision. LOL