If you know what a breakout, burnout, and Christmas tree have in common, chances are you’re a fan of drag racing and the NHRA.
If you’re not familiar with NHRA, take a look at the video below of 6-time world champion Clay Millican setting a new track record.
Like baseball and apple pie, drag racing seems particularly American, with roots going back to unofficial drag races in California’s Mojave Desert in the 1930s to scenes in iconic films like Rebel Without A Cause, released in 1955.
Today, NHRA offers drag racing opportunities for hot rod enthusiasts of all levels, from youth ages 5 to 17 to seasoned professionals like Clay Millican, who races in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Top Fuel Dragsters, like the one Millican was driving in the youtube clip are the fastest-accelerating and most recognizable of all drag race cars. The 25-foot-long “rocket car” can cover the 1,000-foot course in less than 3.7 seconds at speeds faster than 330 mph. with their supercharged, fuel-injected nitromethane-burning engines producing an estimated 10,000 horsepower!
Funny Car Drag Racing
In addition to Top Fuel Dragsters, NHRA has many other categories of competition, including Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle. So called “Funny Cars” produce an estimated 7,000 horsepower and travel a quarter mile in 4.6 seconds, Pro Stock Cars look like regular cars but have had extensive modifications and can reach speeds of 205 mph. There are even Junior Dragsters, designed for kids, ages 8-17.
To see the differences in the vehicles, take a look at the videos below.
Here’s a clip of the 2016 Funny Car Finals between Tim Wilkerson and John Force…
Here’s a clip of the National Pro Stock Final…
Though they may incorporate a Chrysler Hemi or Ford Wedge, NHRA vehicles have been extensively modified and use special fuel like Methanol and Nitromethane. The fuel and modifications allow Top Fuel dragsters to leave the starting line with the same force of the space shuttle when it leaves the launching pad at Cape Canaveral. nearly five times that of gravity.
Dragsters and Brake Hardware
When the parachutes deploy after a race, many people in the crowd may take another sip of soda, but according to Clay Millican, stopping a Top Fuel Dragster is “one of the most exciting parts of the run.”
Although NHRA cars don’t use a typical braking system, Millican and NHRA announcer Alan Reinhart recently discussed the importance of brake hardware and why it’s important to get new clips when you change your pads.
It’s not a surprise that a professional like Millican is very concerned with stopping vehicles safely and efficiently whether he’s on the track or on the street. While you won’t see any of the NHRA cars racing in your neighborhood, you can check them out at an event near you.