What is a Drag Race?
Drag racing is a type of car racing where just two contestants participate in the race. The race originated in the USA. Both the contestants stand side by side to start the race. The starting point is called a drag strip. This strip is a straight, flat course measuring 0.25 Miles. The winner who crosses the finish line first is declared the winner; however, both final speed and elapsed time are recorded.
Contestants stand at the drag strip in parallel lanes. They are given an electronic starting device popularly called a Christmas Tree. The driver needs to interrupt the starting line with infrared beams. Next, they need to turn on the pre-stage light and then the stage light on the top of the Christmas Tree.
So, when all these four lights of the two contestants are lit, a switch is flipped by the starter, and the lights come down at half a second intervals. The drivers need to wait for the green light to start the race. Leaving the line without seeing the green light can lead to disqualification.
The elapsed time of the drivers is counted from the point when the staging lights are lit. The race ends when the driver beams the light at the finish line. A beam at 66 feet or 132 feet is used to figure out the final speeds.
Typically, there are tournament races conducted in elimination matches, but there are some mixed category or bracket races under a handicap system. Slower vehicles are used in bracket races so that the driver can get a head start. Bracket racing is a boon for racers who are not rich and do not have corporate sponsorship.
Drag racing came up as an organized sport at the starting of the 1930s in southern California. The sport gained huge popularity when Wally Parks organized the Southern California Timing Association in 1938. The first commercial drag strip opened in California in the year 1950.
Parks also urged numerous local clubs to join with the SCTA to promote safety in racing meets. When he became the president of the National Hot Rod Association in 1951, Park grew the association to have nearly 144 race tracks and held more than 4,000 events with a strength of 85,000 members. The very famous drag races are the U.S.
Nationals and the Winter Nationals. International Hot Rod Association is another group that promotes drag races.
Top Drag Races
The NHRA conducts several events in categories with restrictions on the car engine, body, chassis, and fuel. The very popular professional categories are Funny Cars, Top Fuel, Pro Stock Bikes, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Trucks.
The Top Fuel is the fastest category car that can accelerate up to 100 mph in less than a second and reach over 330 mph in under five seconds in the 1/4 mile race. These fast vehicles are also known as rails as they are long and have a narrow wheelbase.
These cars use rear-engine designs for driver safety and also help in improving the traction. The front wheels of these vehicles float above the ground for the first few feet of the drag race.
After that, the vehicles have an airfoil wing at the rear that produces immense downward force to maintain stability and traction. Funny Car and Top Fuel dragsters also have some special parachutes that help in de-accelerating when they reach near the finish line.
Motorsports Hall of Fame in Michigan also has dome drag-racers like Big Daddy Garlits, Shirley Muldowney, Bob Glidden, and The Snake Prudhomme.
Top Categories of Drag Cars in the USA:
The top categories of drag race cars in the USA include:
Top Fuel is one of the fastest-accelerating machines with a 7,000-horsepower. The Top Fuel dragsters are also known as the “king of the sport“. The vehicle can finish the quarter-mile race in just 4.4 seconds with a speed of over 330 mph. The machine is supercharged with a Chrysler Hemi engine. It burns almost 15 gallons of fuel in a single race. Top Fuel cars weigh 2,250 pounds and are 25 feet long.
The funny car has a shorter wheelbase than the top fuel. It comes with a carbon-fibre body and can finish the run in 4.7-seconds with a speed of 330 mph. The same engines power them as the Top Fuel cars.
The Pro stock is also known as the “factory hot rods“. They resemble factory-made automobiles. These machines are the most technologically advanced cars used in drag racing. With a four-link rear suspension and a great tube chassis, Pro Stock cars weigh around 2,350 pounds. The engines come with two carburettors and make more than 1,300 horsepower. It can run in the race in 6.6s with a speed of almost 208 mph.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
Pro Stock Motorcycle is a modified vehicle capable of completing the race in less than seven seconds with a speed of over 195 mph. It is a lightweight, aerodynamically designed vehicle. It comes in a variety of models, makes, and engines like V-Twin entries and four-cylinder-equipped Kawasaki models. Fuel injection can be done, and the only fuel allowed is spec gasoline.
Top Alcohol Dragster
The vehicle looks quite similar to Top Fuel, but they are a lot different. The Top Fuel cars use nitro-burning engines and supercharged vehicles, while the Top Alcohol Dragsters come with a methanol-burning engine. They do not use a transmission and have three forward speeds. The vehicle weighs around 1,950 to 2,050 pounds. They have a wheelbase of about 300 inches and can complete the run is in 5.2secs with a speed of more than 270 mph.
Top Alcohol Funny Car
The car appears to be similar to the Funny Car. Top Alcohol Funny Cars use methanol fuel. They come with a three-speed transmission. They have the same steel chassis like other nitro cars and have carbon fibre bodies. Top Alcohol Funny Cars can complete the race in 5.5s at a speed of almost 260 mph.
The comp features the maximum variety in any NHRA competition. Dragsters, compact cars, front-engine nostalgia dragsters, altereds, coupes, street roadsters, sedans, sports and trucks race in the drag competitions. The vehicles come with diverse engine combinations, from turbocharged engines to V-8s coupled with mountain motors.
These may resemble ordinary passenger cars but are truly modified race cars. The category caters to vintage muscle cars and late-model sedans. A lot of engine modifications are done to retain cylinder heads, engine blocks, and carburettors. The SS/AH is the most popular class used as Plymouth Barracuda race cars.
These cars are almost like the Super Stock cars, but their engine modifications and body alterations are different. The body of the car is altered, but the factory interior is retained. The tires have a 9 inch rear slick. Engines must retain intake manifolds, stock cylinder heads, and fuel injectors. Modifications are just for slight balancing to enhance the performance parameters.
This is the quickest Superclass vehicle. Super Comp comes in a lot of chassis, engine, and body modifications, but all the changes need to adhere to NHRA standards. The four or six-cylinder car has a minimum of 1,000 pounds weight. Most Super Comp cars can run under 8.9 index using electronic aids like adjustable throttle and a timer.
Biggest Drag Race
Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals is the biggest drag race of all time. By any measure, including history, prestige, prize money, longevity, importance, or the number of race cars in the competition, the Chevrolet performance of U.S nationals is the most popular drag race in the world. It began in 1955 as the NHRA’s first national event and rose to become a must-win for every drag racer.
The four professional categories in drag racing are Funny Car, Pro Stock, Top Fuel, and Pro Stock Motorcycle. Along with Top Alcohol Funny Car and Top Alcohol Dragster, these four categories form the three “Super” classes –Super Gas, Super Comp, and Super Street in heads-up competition. The fans across the USA wait for the drag race schedule and love to watch the cars finish the race.