A Lesson in Acceleration:
* One Top Fuel dragster 500 cubic inch Hemi engine makes more horsepower
than the first 4 rows at the Indy. 500.
* Under full throttle, a Top Fuel dragster engine consumes 1 1/2 gallons of nitromethane per second; a fully loaded 747 consumes jet fuel at the
same rate with 25% less energy being produced.
* A stock Dodge 426 Hemi V8 engine cannot produce enough power to 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 nitromethane the
flame front temperature 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.
* 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 the cylinder heads off the block in pieces or split the block
* In order to exceed 300 mph in 4.5 seconds dragsters must accelerate at
an average of over 4G's. In order to reach 200 mph well before
half-track, the launch acceleration approaches 8G's.
* Dragsters reach over 300 miles per hour before you have completed
reading this sentence.
* Top Fuel Engines turn approximately 540 revolutions from light to
* Including the burnout the engine must only survive 900 revolutions
* The red-line 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 $1,000.00 per second. The current Top Fuel dragster elapsed
time record is 4.428 seconds for the quarter mile (11/12/06, Tony
Schumacher at Pomona, CA). The top speed record is 336.15 mph (533 km/h)
as measured over the last 66' of the run, (05/25/05 Tony Schumacher at
Putting all of this into perspective:
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. You have the
advantage of a flying start. You run the Vette hard up through the gears and blast across the starting line and past the dragster at an honest 200 mph (293
ft/sec). The 'tree' goes green for both of you at that moment. 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 course.
That, folks, is acceleration!