[s-cars] And you thought what you brung was fast!

Charlie Smith charlie at elektro.cmhnet.org
Sat Nov 22 10:24:08 EST 2003

You thought what you brung was fast?

First, some useful info:

* One Top Fuel dragster 500 cubic inch Hemi engine makes more
horsepower than the first 4 rows at the Daytona 500.

* Under full throttle, a dragster engine consumes 1½ 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 Hemi V8 engine cannot produce enough power to
drive the dragster 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 cylinder heads off the block in pieces
or split the block in half.

* 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 light!

* Including the burnout the engine must only survive 900
revolutions under load.

* 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 US $1,000.00 per second. The current Top Fuel
dragster elapsed time record is 4.441 seconds for the quarter
mile (10/05/03, Tony Schumacher). The top speed record is 333.00
mph (533 km/h) as measured over the last 66' of the run (09/28/03
Doug Kalitta).

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. 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.

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