Top Fuel dragsters are the quickest
accelerating racing cars in the world and the fastest sanctioned
category of drag racing, with the fastest competitors reaching
speeds of 335 miles per hour (539 km/h) and finishing the 1,000
foot (305 m) runs in 3.64 seconds. Here are some fuel facts.
* One Top Fuel dragster 500 cubic-inch
Hemi engine makes more horsepower (11,000 HP) than the first
4 rows at the Daytona 500.
* Under full throttle, a dragster
engine consumes 11.2 gallons of nitro methane per second; a fully
loaded 747 consumes jet fuel at the same rate with 25% less energy
* 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 lock at full throttle.
* At the stoichiometric 1.7:1
air/fuel mixture for nitro methane 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
* 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 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 seconds, dragsters must accelerate an average of over 4
G's. In order to reach 200 MPH well before half-track, the launch
acce leration approaches 8 G's.
* Top Fuel engines turn approximately
480 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 off, the crew worked for free, & for
once, NOTHING BLOWS UP, each run costs an estimated $1,000 per
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
6 negative g-forces upon deployment of twin âchutes
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.
The current Top Fuel dragster
elapsed time record is 3,628 seconds for the 1000' track (2018,
Clay Millican). The top speed record is 336.57 MPH as measured
over the last 66' of the run (2018, Tony Schumacher).
Putting this all 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 & 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 & pass the dragster at
an honest 200 MPH. The 'tree' goes green for both of you at that
The dragster launches & starts
after you. You keep your foot down hard, but you hear an incredibly
brutal whine that sears your eardrums & within 3 seconds
the dragster catches & 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 & not only cau ght, but nearly blasted you off the road
when he passed you within a mere 1000 foot long race!