Facts about a Top Fuel Dragster
One dragster's 500-inch Hemi makes more horsepower then the
first 8 rows at Daytona.
Under full throttle, a dragster engine consumes 1 ½ gallons of
nitro per second, the same rate of fuel consumption as a fully loaded 747
but with 4 times the energy volume.
The supercharger takes more power to drive then a stock hemi makes.
Even with nearly 3000 CFM of air being rammed in by the
supercharger on overdrive, the fuel mixture is compressed into
nearly-solid form before ignition. Cylinders run on the verge of hydraulic lock.
Dual magnetos apply 44 amps to each spark plug. This is the
output of an arc welder in each cylinder.
At stoichiometric (exact) 1.7:1 air/fuel
mixture (for nitro),
the flame front of nitromethane measures 7050 degrees F.
Nitromethane 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.
Spark plug electrodes are totally consumed during a pass. After
½ 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 of
it's fuel flow.
if spark momentarily fails early in the run, unburned nitro
builds up in those cylinders and then explodes with a force that can blow
cylinder heads off the block in pieces or blow the block in half.
Dragsters twist the crank (torsionally) so far (20 degrees in
the big end of the track) that sometimes cam lobes are ground offset from
front to rear to re-phase the valve timing somewhere closer to
synchronization with the pistons.
To exceed 300mph in 4.5 seconds dragsters must accelerate at an
average of over 4G's. But in reaching 200 mph well before ½ track
launch acceleration is closer to 8G's.
Drivers shut off before the finish line, or even dual parachutes
will not stop the car.
If all the equipment is paid off, the crew worked free, and
for once NOTHING BLOWS UP, each run costs $1000.00 per second.
Dragsters reach over 300 miles per hour before you have read