Automotive

Top Fuel Drag Racing

  • Last Updated:
  • May 26th, 2020 12:03 pm
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Nov 1, 2006
8154 posts
1885 upvotes
Toronto

Top Fuel Drag Racing

https://www.reddit.com/r/formula1/comme ... dium=web2x

One Top Fuel dragster 500 cubic-inch Hemi engine makes more horsepower than the first 4 rows at the Daytona 500.

Under full throttle, a dragster engine consumes 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 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.

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 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 acceleration 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 and for once, NOTHING BLOWS UP, each run costs an estimated $1,000 per second.

The current Top Fuel dragster elapsed time record is 4.441 seconds for the quarter-mile (10/05/03, Tony Schumacher). The top speed record is 333.00 MPH (533 km/h) as measured over the last 66′ of the run (09/28/03, Doug Kalitta).

Putting this all into perspective:

Lets say the 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 by it. 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. Just as you pass the Top Fuel Dragster the ‘tree’ goes green for both of you.

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 1320 foot long race.
17 replies
Sr. Member
Sep 4, 2006
875 posts
532 upvotes
Ottawa
Amazing machines that became too fast/quick for their own sport. Once they stopped running the 1/4, I kind of tuned out.
Deal Expert
Jan 15, 2006
15716 posts
13453 upvotes
Richmond Hill
I was always amazed at how fast these cars were and how someone actually controlled it LOL. Talk about ninja reflexes.
Sr. Member
Sep 4, 2006
875 posts
532 upvotes
Ottawa
The original post could be twice as long talking about how the clutch works, and the size of the tire changes as the speed increases (which alters the effective gear ratio).

Remember when Pro Stock cars were fast in the low 7s? There are "street" cars that do that now...
Deal Addict
May 16, 2017
1561 posts
1963 upvotes
I wouldn't exactly call this reddit extract a scientific comparison.

These days, it seems a top fuel engine is generating around 11,000 HP peak.

A 747-200 (an older model, but one that had this rather complex HP from thrust calculation done for me) generates about 87,000 HP at CRUISE, which is only about 1/4 of max thrust. So, a 747 could be generating close to 350,000 HP at takeoff. The 747 is a LOT more fuel efficient.
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Nov 1, 2006
8154 posts
1885 upvotes
Toronto
robsaw wrote: .... The 747 is a LOT more fuel efficient.
LOL. I don't think I've ever heard efficiency mentioned when it comes to drag racing.
Deal Addict
May 16, 2017
1561 posts
1963 upvotes
Jimbobs wrote: LOL. I don't think I've ever heard efficiency mentioned when it comes to drag racing.
True but efficiency wasn't really the point - either with respect to my comment or drag racing, just an observation.

The point is these types of comparisons isn't all-out accuracy, it is a fan-boy thing. This set of "facts" has appeared all over the place with various edits and errors introduced over time - that the post is quoting 17 year-old records is also somewhat of a give-away, as is it doesn't acknowledge that top-fuel NHRA races are now run for 1000 ft not 1320 (1/4 mile).
Deal Addict
Jan 12, 2008
1028 posts
633 upvotes
TDot
Last 3 paragraphs in the OP blew my mind....
Sr. Member
Dec 25, 2006
566 posts
418 upvotes
Winnipeg
OP - your numbers for the records are out of date.....according to NHRA.com top speed is 338 and time is 3.623. Both set by Brittany Force. Each set at different tracks.
People will believe what they want to believe whether fact or fiction.
'tis most frustrating when they aren't open to see and/or learn which is which.
Deal Fanatic
Jul 7, 2017
5714 posts
2517 upvotes
SW corner of the cou…
The engines also require a complete tear down after every race or few races? Kinda expensive maintenance wise.

And forget about 747 engines. The first iterations (P&W JT-9) are at least 51 years old.

More impressive is the GE90-115. In a test, one powered a twin-engine plane on its own for 330 minutes.
Cream rises to the top. So does scum.
Deal Addict
Mar 30, 2010
2860 posts
1167 upvotes
GTA
Doesn't Top Fuel max out at 1000ft nowadays, instead of 1320?
Sr. Member
Dec 25, 2006
566 posts
418 upvotes
Winnipeg
thriftshopper wrote: The engines also require a complete tear down after every race or few races?
I gets rebuilt/replaced after every single run down the track.
People will believe what they want to believe whether fact or fiction.
'tis most frustrating when they aren't open to see and/or learn which is which.
Newbie
User avatar
Jun 11, 2006
98 posts
171 upvotes
Lakefield
I've read this same thing often over the years yet I still re-read it and am still amazed at the facts and figures.
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Nov 1, 2006
8154 posts
1885 upvotes
Toronto
warpdwhim wrote: OP - your numbers for the records are out of date.....according to NHRA.com top speed is 338 and time is 3.623. Both set by Brittany Force. Each set at different tracks.
Not my numbers but thanks for the update.
Deal Addict
May 16, 2017
1561 posts
1963 upvotes
shane65 wrote: I've read this same thing often over the years yet I still re-read it and am still amazed at the facts and figures.
I prefer to verify the "facts" with actual figures - most are correct but a couple are off - and one is laughably off.

Oh, and I don't have anything against drag racing, my uncle has raced (owner/crew chief) for decades from the late 60's until recently. Held some NHRA records in A-Dragster in the 80's I think.
Deal Expert
User avatar
May 10, 2005
36071 posts
10163 upvotes
Ottawa
warpdwhim wrote: OP - your numbers for the records are out of date.....according to NHRA.com top speed is 338 and time is 3.623. Both set by Brittany Force. Each set at different tracks.
Well, sort of out of date but out of context too. NHRA changed the race distance. In Summer of 2008 the NHRA has cut the race distance for its Top Fuel and Funny Car classes to 1000 feet--320 feet short of a quarter-mile as a result of a fatal crash. Her times were set on a shorter track.
The Government cannot give to anybody anything that the Government does not first take from somebody else.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Oct 16, 2007
1295 posts
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Brittany Force has the current record at 3.623 @ 331mph
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[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Nov 1, 2006
8154 posts
1885 upvotes
Toronto
robsaw wrote: I prefer to verify the "facts" with actual figures - most are correct but a couple are off - and one is laughably off.

Oh, and I don't have anything against drag racing, my uncle has raced (owner/crew chief) for decades from the late 60's until recently. Held some NHRA records in A-Dragster in the 80's I think.
As indicated in my OP, this was taken from Reddit and (re)posted by me as something I found interesting. If you have anything to add or correct, please do so rather than just sniping at that content. I, for one, would definitely be interested.

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