For all you NHRA fans out there A Definition of Acceleration
One Top Fuel dragster 500 cubic inch Hemi engine makes more horsepower
than the first 4 rows of NASCARS at the Daytona 500.
Under full throttle, a dragster engine consumes 1-1/2 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 drive the
With 3,000 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 (stoichiometry: methodology and technology by
which quantities of reactants and products in chemical reactions are
determined) 1.7:1 air/fuel mixture for nitro methane, the flame front
temperature measures 7,050 degrees F.
Nitro methane 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 halfway,
the engine is dieseling from compression, plus the glow of exhaust
valves at 1,400 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.
In order to exceed 300 mph in 4.5 seconds, dragsters must accelerate an
average of over 4G's. In order to reach 200 mph (well before
half-track), the launch acceleration approaches 8G's.
Dragsters reach over 300 miles per hour before you have completed
reading this sentence.
Top Fuel engines turn approximately 540 revolutions from light to light!
Including the burnout, the engine must only survive 900 revolutions
The redline is actually quite high at 9,500 rpm.
Assuming all the equipment is paid off, the crew worked for free, and
for once NOTHING BLOWS UP, each run costs an estimated $1,000.00 per
The current Top Fuel dragster elapsed time record is 4.428 seconds for
the quarter mile (06, Tony Schumacher). The top speed record is 336.15
mph. (533 km/h) as measured over the last 66' of the run (05).
Putting all of this 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 and
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 and past the dragster at an honest
200 mph. The 'tree' goes green for both of you at that moment.
The dragster launches and starts after you. You keep your foot down
hard, but you hear an incredibly brutal whine that sears your eardrums
and within 3 seconds, the dragster catches and 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 and not only caught, but nearly blasted you off the road when he
passed you within a mere 1,320 foot long race course.