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top fuel dragsters
swamp rat
rear tires
The Beasts Of The Sport
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The Beasts of the Sport

These are what I consider to be the Beasts of the Sport, the Top Fuel Dragsters and Top Fuel Funny Cars, Pro Mod. would probably fit into that category as well, but for today we are going to take a look at the Top Fuel Dragsters and Top Fuel Funny cars.

A Top Fuel Dragster is 300" long and weighs 2250 pounds race ready, they are built of chrome molly tubing and carbon-fibre composite. It is difficult to measure the true horsepower of a nitro engine, but it is estimated between 7,000 and 10,000 horsepower, it takes roughly 10 seconds to get a reading from the dyno at full rpm, since the engine is not water-cooled it would over heat and bad things would happen. Top fuel dragster's are the fastest accelerating machines on the planet. Their performance is second to none, they accelerate from 0 to 100 miles per hour in ,7 seconds @ 5.5-6 G's. From a standing start they can cover 1000 feet of race track in just 3.77 seconds at speeds over 320 miles per hour.

Their engines are located directly behind the driver compartment for safety reasons, in 1970 "Big Daddy" Don Garlist lost part of his right foot when the clutch and transmission exploded in his Front engine dragster. He wasn't the first, but credit him as being the first to successfully build and campaign a Rear Engine Dragster, Swamp rat XIV. They have a top wing to create downforce on the rear tires to help the cars maintain traction, if the wing should fail or break apart during the run the results are usually catastrophic.

The Top Fuel Funny Car cannot exceed 125" wheel base and weighs 2100 pounds, they have a carbon fiber body and their engine is located in front of the driver. Fires are a huge concern for the Front Engine Funny Cars so it is mandatory they have a manually operated Fire Suppressant System on board to protect the driver. Instead of a rear wing to creat downforce they have a Rear Spoiler. There is a burst panel in the engine that will activate if the pressure in the engine is too great, this helps reduce fires and engine failure.

Their engines are identical. they cannot exceed 500 cubic inches and are machined from forged aluminum and based on the 426 Hemi. There are no water jackets inside the block which adds to the overall strength, the engine is cooled by the air/fuel mixture and holds 16 gallons of 70 weight mineral or synthetic racing oil. The

The air is provided by a 14-71 roots style blower and the fuel is delivered by a constant flow fuel injection system with an engine driven fuel pump capable of delivering 105 gallons per minute at full rpm. The fuel used is nitro-methane with a mixture of about 90% nitro-methane and 10% methanol. On a normal 1/4/ mile pass they will burn about 15 gallons of fuel. To light this mixture they use two 44 amp magneto's that supply the spark to 16 spark plugs.

Top Fuel Dragster's and Top Fuel Funny cars are high gear only with a reverse shifter so they can back up. They consist of a pressure plate and a series of clutch discs ( usually five) that are controlled by timers and staged to lock-up at different points in the run until they finally reach a 1:1 ratio with the engine. They are housed in a titanium bell housing.

I hope you enjoy Drag Racing as much as I do, if you have never stood at the starting line and felt the sheer power of these machines as they accelerate, then you owe it to yourself to experience that. Some of my other articles are Drag Racing Then And Now, Drag Racing Then And Now Part 2, A Day At The Races-NHRA Style and The Great American Muscle Car.


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