Backtalk 2/03/2011

Feb. 1, 2011
No rocket or airplane in the world accelerates from a standing start as fast as a Top Fuel dragster or funny car

What a rush!
No rocket or airplane in the world accelerates from a standing start as fast as a Top Fuel dragster or funny car.

Here are some amazing facts:

• One Top Fuel dragster 500-cu-in. Hemi engine creates more horsepower than the first four rows of stock cars at the Daytona 500.
• It takes just 0.15 sec for all 6,000+ hp of a Top Fuel dragster engine to reach the rear wheels.
• Under full throttle, a dragster engine consumes 1.5 gallons of nitro methane/sec; a fully loaded 747 consumes jet fuel at the same rate with 25% less energy being produced.
• A stock, Dodge Hemi V8 engine can’t produce enough power to drive a dragster’s supercharger.
• 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.
• With a 1.7:1 air/fuel mixture of nitro methane, the flame’s front temperature measures 7,050°F.
• Nitro methane burns yellow. The spectacular white flame seen above the stacks at night is burning hydrogen, dissociated from atmospheric water vapor by the searing exhaust gases.
• 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°F. The engine can only be shut down by cutting the fuel flow.
• Dual magnetos supply 44 A to each spark plug. This puts the output of an arc welder in each cylinder.
• 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.
• To exceed 300 mph in 4.5 sec, dragsters must accelerate an average of over 4 gs. To reach 200 mph (well before half-track), the launch acceleration approaches 8  gs.
• Dragsters reach over 300 mph 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 rev under load.
• The redline is 9,500 rpm.
• If all equipment is paid for, the crew worked for free, and nothing blows up, each run costs an estimate $1,000.00/sec.
• The current Top Fuel dragster elapsed time record is 4.428 sec for the quarter mile (11/12/06, Tony Schumacher, at Pomona ,
Calif.). The top speed record is 336.15 mph (measured over the last 66 ft of Tony Schumacher’s run at Hebron, Ohio, on 05/25/05).

Let’s put 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 pass 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. Your foot’s down hard, but you hear an incredibly brutal whine that sears your eardrums and within 3 sec, the dragster catches and passes you. He gets to the finish line, a quarter mile away from where you just passed him.

From a standing start, the dragster spotted you 200 mph and not only caught, but nearly blasted you off the road when passing you on a mere 1,320-ft-long race course.

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.

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