Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster

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SteveReid
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Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster

Post by SteveReid » Tue May 02, 2017 4:54 pm

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



One Top Fuel dragster outfitted with a 500 cubic-inch replica Dodge (actually Keith Black, etc) 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 even 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, disassociated from atmospheric water vapor by the searing exhaust gases.




Dual magnetos supply 44 amps to each spark plug, which is typically the output of a small 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 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.




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 for, the pit crew is working for free, and NOTHING BLOWS UP, each run will cost an estimated $1,000 per second.



0 to 100 MPH in .8 seconds (the first 60 feet of the run)



0 to 200 MPH in 2.2 seconds (the first 350 feet of the run)

6 G-forces at the starting line (nothing accelerates faster on land) 6 negative G-forces upon deployment of twin 'chutes at 300 MPH.



An NHRA Top Fuel Dragster accelerates quicker than any other land vehicle on Earth ...

Quicker than a jet fighter plane ...

Quicker than the space shuttle ...

Or snapping your fingers!



The current Top Fuel dragster elapsed time record is 4.42 seconds for the quarter-mile (2004, Doug Kalitta). (I think the time is now closer to 4 seconds, as of Winter 2014.)



The top speed record is 337.58 MPH as measured over the last 66' of the run (2005, Tony Schumacher).



Update:



Only going 1000 feet (320 feet less than 1/4 mile) they do it in 3.7 seconds at around 332 mph with 10,000 horse power with 90% nitro - methane 10% alcohol.



THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE GOING TOO FAST FOR 1/4 MILE AND COULDN'T STOP.



Let's now put this all into perspective:



Imagine this: You're driving a new $140,000 Lingenfelter twin-turbo powered Corvette Z-06. 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, on 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 exact moment. The dragster departs and starts after you. You keep your foot buried hard to the floor, and suddenly you hear an incredibly brutally screaming whine that sears and pummels your eardrums and 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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scottyroll
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Re: Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster

Post by scottyroll » Wed May 03, 2017 7:38 am

Great read, Mr. Reid!

Those numbers and the science behind them are just amazing to ponder 8)

Thanks for sharing
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Re: Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster

Post by kwanjangnihm » Wed May 03, 2017 7:57 am

no explanation needed for me to enjoy top fuel racing! :toothy7: may the "Force" be with you! :thumbleft:

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Re: Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster

Post by Uhairball » Wed May 03, 2017 8:27 am

So they get hot enough to melt the spark plugs, but immediately after the race they tear them down to ready for the next race. How do they cool them off so they can stand to work on them??

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Re: Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster

Post by John Fenner » Wed May 03, 2017 8:51 am

Uhairball wrote:So they get hot enough to melt the spark plugs, but immediately after the race they tear them down to ready for the next race. How do they cool them off so they can stand to work on them??
They burn up from detonation, the engine doesn't have time to get that hot for disassembly.
I never finish anyth,,,.

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Re: Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster

Post by Uhairball » Wed May 03, 2017 8:55 am

John Fenner wrote:
Uhairball wrote:So they get hot enough to melt the spark plugs, but immediately after the race they tear them down to ready for the next race. How do they cool them off so they can stand to work on them??
They burn up from detonation, the engine doesn't have time to get that hot for disassembly.

So do they use a radiator?

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Re: Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster

Post by John Fenner » Wed May 03, 2017 9:05 am

No, block is filled with a cement type solid filler on older ones, new ones likely solid billet.
I never finish anyth,,,.

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Re: Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster

Post by mojoe » Wed May 03, 2017 4:23 pm

I would love to see the 200 mph rolling start vs top fuel dragster challenge!!
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Re: Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster

Post by sfw777 » Wed May 03, 2017 4:27 pm

They now are in the 12000 HP range Blocks get hot but clutches get hotter. All top fuel blocks are now solid billet aluminum no coolant. Oil removes some heat. They only run about 2 min from burnout to launch. Fuel must be shut off to kill engine. 2 40amp coils run by 2 mags. Love the smell of nitro in the morning! :old_glory:

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Re: Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster

Post by sfw777 » Wed May 03, 2017 4:29 pm

Top fuel wins everytime with 200 mph rolling start and would blow it off the road if it didn't have good down force.

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Re: Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster

Post by airduds » Wed May 03, 2017 6:50 pm

mojoe wrote:I would love to see the 200 mph rolling start vs top fuel dragster challenge!!
It would be fun to watch. If the drag race was 1,320 ft., it would take the 200 mph car 4.5 seconds to cover. Top Fuel cars were running under 4 seconds before the track was shortened.
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Re: Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster

Post by cowboy » Wed May 03, 2017 7:39 pm

Good read Steve. Enjoyed it. Thanks for posting.

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Re: Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster

Post by cowboy » Wed May 03, 2017 7:39 pm

kwanjangnihm wrote:no explanation needed for me to enjoy top fuel racing! :toothy7: may the "Force" be with you! :thumbleft:

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WOW!

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Re: Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster

Post by helicsher » Thu May 04, 2017 4:41 pm

Nitro burns cold I have put my hand on a super charger after a run and it was ice cold with condensation on it
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Re: Ever wonder why a Top Fuel dragster

Post by Prototype » Fri May 05, 2017 7:28 pm

cowboy wrote:
kwanjangnihm wrote:no explanation needed for me to enjoy top fuel racing! :toothy7: may the "Force" be with you! :thumbleft:

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