Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dragster acceleration is obscene

My friend Doug Drexler emailed me this.  I would point back to the original source, but I think this is something that has been passed around over and over. Thanks to whoever wrote the original.

Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster gets a rebuilt engine after each run?  Stay with this - even if you aren't a 'car nut', this is stunning.



  • One Top Fuel dragster outfitted with a 500 cubic-inch replica Dodge Hemi engine makes more horsepower (8,000 HP) than the first 4 rows of cars at NASCAR's Daytona 500.
  • Under full throttle, a dragster engine will consume 11.2 gallons of nitro methane per second. A fully loaded Boeing 747 consumes jet fuel at the same rate but 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 lockup at full throttle.
  • At the stoichio metric 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. Which is typically the output of an electric arc welder in each cylinder.
  • Spark plug electrodes are totally consumed during a pass. After 1/2 way thru the run, the engine is 'dieseling' from compression and the glow of the 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 enough sufficient force to blow the 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, a dragster must accelerate an average of over 4 G's.
  • In order to reach 200 MPH well before reaching half-track, at launch the acceleration approaches 8 G's.
  • 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 for, the pit crew is working for free, NOTHING BLOWS UP, each run will cost an estimated $1,000 per second.

Let's now put this all into perspective:

Imagine this...........You are driving a new $140,000 Lingenfelter twin-turbo powered Corvette Z-06. Over a mile up the road, a Top Fuel dragster is staged, ready to 'launch' down a quarter-mile trip as you pass. You have the advantage of a flying start. You run the 'Vette hard, on up through the gears and blast across the starting line, pass the dragster at an honest 200 MPH....
The 'tree' goes green for both of you at that exact moment. The dragster  starts after you. You keep your foot buried hard to the floor, and suddenly you hear an incredibly brutally screaming whine that seares and pummels your eardrums. Within a mere 3 seconds the dragster effortlessly 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 it not only caught, but nearly blasted you off the planet when he passed you within a mere 1320 foot long race !!!!

THAT, my friends.....is acceleration.

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