Did you know …
… that the nitromethane-powered engines of NHRA Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars produce approximately 7,000 horsepower, about 37 times that of the average street car?
… that one cylinder of the eight cylinders of a Top Fuel dragster or a Funny Car produces 750 horsepower, equaling the entire horsepower output of a NASCAR engine?
… that the gasoline-powered engines of NHRA Pro Stock cars produce about 1,200 horsepower, about eight times that of the average street car?
… that an NHRA Top Fuel dragster accelerates from 0 to 100 mph in less than .8-second, almost 11 seconds quicker than it takes a production Porsche 911 Turbo to reach the same speed?
… that an NHRA Top Fuel dragster leaves the starting line with a force nearly five times that of gravity, the same force of the space shuttle when it leaves the launching pad at Cape Canaveral?
… that an NHRA Funny Car is slowed by a reverse force more than seven times that of gravity when both parachutes deploy simultaneously?
… that NHRA Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars consume between four and five gallons of fuel during a quarter-mile run, which is equivalent to between 16 and 20 gallons per mile?
… that NHRA Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars use between 10 and 12 gallons of fuel for a complete pass, including the burnout, backup to the starting line, and quarter-mile run?
… that NHRA Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars travel the length of more than four football fields in less than five seconds?
… that NHRA Top Fuel dragsters can exceed 280 mph in just 660 feet?
… that from a standing start, NHRA Top Fuel dragsters accelerate faster than a jumbo jet, a fighter jet, and a Formula One race car?
… that a fuel pump for an NHRA Top Fuel dragster and Funny Car delivers 65 gallons of fuel per minute, equivalent to eight bathroom showers running at the same time?
… that the fuel-line pressure for NHRA Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars is between 400 and 500 pounds, about 20 times greater than the pressure on passenger-car fuel pumps?
… that depending on size and angle, the large rear wing on an NHRA Top Fuel dragster develops between 4,000 and 8,000 pounds of downforce?
… that the 17-inch rear tires used on NHRA Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars wear out after four to six runs, or about two miles? Some brands of passenger-car tires are guaranteed for 80,000 miles.
… that it takes just 15/100ths of a second for all 7,000 horsepower of an NHRA Top Fuel dragster engine to reach the rear wheels?
… that it's desirable for an NHRA Top Fuel dragster to race with its front wheels inches off the ground for about the first 200 feet of the run? This ensures proper weight transfer to the rear wheels, a crucial part of a good launch and quick run.
… that the nitromethane used to power the engines of NHRA Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars costs about $16 per gallon?
Sources: NHRA Communications and Technical Departments, NHRA race teams, motorsports equipment manufacturers
Drag racing lingo
Breakout: Used only in handicap racing, "breakout" refers to a race car running quicker than the driver has predicted. The driver's prediction is called the dial-in and is posted on the race car. The driver who breaks out loses the race unless his or her opponent has committed a more serious foul, such as a red-light or crossing the centerline of the dragstrip.
Burnout: Spinning the rear tires in water to heat and clean them before a run for better traction. In most classes, a burnout precedes every run down the dragstrip.
Christmas Tree: The noticeable electronic starting device between the lanes on the starting line. It displays a calibrated-light countdown for each driver.
Elapsed Time (e.t.) : The time it takes a drag-race vehicle to travel from the starting line to the finish line.
Funny Car: With aerodynamically enhanced carbon-fiber bodies that loosely resemble the production cars on which they are based, these supercharged, fuel-injected, nitromethane-burning machines travel the quarter-mile in 4.6 seconds at more than 330 mph, slightly slower than a Top Fuel dragster. Most teams use an aluminum version of the 426 Chrysler Hemi engine that produces an estimated 7,000 horsepower.
Jr. Dragster: A half-scale version of a Top Fuel dragster designed to be driven by kids ages 8-17 in the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League. Using a five-horsepower, single-cylinder engine, a Jr. Dragster can go as fast as 80 mph in as few as 7.90 seconds on the eighth-mile.
Methanol: Pure methyl alcohol used as fuel in Top Alcohol Dragsters, Top Alcohol Funny Cars, and even some Jr. Dragsters.
Nitromethane ("nitro") : Made specifically as a fuel for drag racing, it is the result of a chemical reaction between nitric acid and propane. Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars use nitromethane.
Nitrous Oxide ("nitrous," "N2O") : When injected into an engine under pressure, nitrous oxide gives the engine a sudden boost in power by introducing more oxygen into the fuel mixture. Nitrous oxide is not allowed in any NHRA category except Pro Mod (exhibition) and some E.T. bracket classes.
Pro Stock: Pro Stock cars look a lot like street cars, but looks can be deceiving. Extensive modifications to the cylinder heads, manifold, chassis, and suspension thrust them to 6.6-second elapsed times at more than 205 mph. The most popular engine choices for these carbureted, gas-burning vehicles are the GM big-block wedge, the Mopar Hemi, and the Ford wedge.
Pro Stock Motorcycles: Producing more than 300 horsepower, these highly modified motorcycles can cover the quarter-mile in less than 7.0 seconds at more than 195 mph. The chromoly steel chassis is cloaked in a lightweight, aerodynamically enhanced replica of the original motorcycle body, and the carbureted gasoline engine may be a Harley V-twin, a two-valve, or a four-valve.
Reaction Time: The time it takes a driver to react to the green starting light on the Christmas Tree, measured in thousandths of a second. A perfect reaction time is .000.
Red Light: When a race car leaves the starting line too soon before the green light, or "go" signal it activates the red light on the Christmas Tree and the driver has automatically lost the race.
Top Fuel Dragsters: The fastest-accelerating vehicles in the world, these are the most recognizable of all drag race cars. The 25-foot-long landlocked missiles can cover the quarter-mile in 4.4 seconds at speeds faster than 335 mph. The engine of choice is an aluminum version of the famous Chrysler Hemi. The supercharged, fuel-injected nitromethane-burning engines produce an estimated 7,000 horsepower.