The physics involved in Drag Racing
I must admit that I have never been all that enamored of Drag
Racing. I used to say that it dragged on all day and half the night as well!
However, the Top Fuel dragsters are something else again. Anything that can get
to 532 kph in just over 400 metres in 4.4 seconds from a standing start is
spectacular. I am indebted to bike freak Norm Aylward for the following data (so
if it’s wrong, blame him - not me!).
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 Top Fuel dragster engine consumes 1
1/2 gallons of nitro methane 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 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, 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 half way, the engine is dieseling from compression plus the glow of
exhaust valves at 1400 degrees F. Only cutting the fuel flow can shut down the
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 480 kph in 4.5 seconds dragsters must
accelerate at an average of over 4G’s. In order to reach 200 mph well before
half way, the launch acceleration approaches 8G’s.
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 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).
Don’t try and outrun the Italian police
Unless you have something that can do more than 309 kph,
don’t try and outrun the Italian rozzer’s latest pursuit car - a Lamborghini
Gallardo! However, you will be able to differentiate it from all the other
Gallardos on the Salerno-Reggio Calabria motorway, because their one is blue and
white with a flashing blue light on the roof and signs on the doors that say
Apparently it was donated by the Lamborghini factory in
Bologna, but I don’t think we’ll see any in the hands of the Highway Police
here, with its local price tag of 19.5 million!
Anybody want to buy a Dongfeng?
The auto world’s attention has been on China recently, with
rumours of many manufacturers moving to open plants and alliances in the huge
One of these is Dongfeng. Last year, Dongfeng negotiated a
merger with Nissan that gave the Japanese automaker a 50 percent share of
Dongfeng. What Dongfeng got was access to the capital and technology that it
needs to compete with its larger Chinese rivals such as Beijing Automotive, who
are currently snuggled up tight with DaimlerChrysler.
However, all in the garden isn’t rosy. DaimlerChrysler
recently has seen much moving and shoving being done in the German automaker’s
boardroom, as it tries to get out of some not so profitable deals in Asia. It
has refused to inject more capital into Mitsubishi and is doing nothing with
Hyundai. The union with Chrysler is also said to be unhappy, so the three
pointed star is not too happy.
But China could be a turnaround for the Mercedes-Benz
nameplate. DaimlerChrysler (China) Ltd. Chairman Roman Fischer has announced
plans to assemble Mercedes sedans in China with partner Beijing Automotive
Industry Holdings and C-Class and E-Class sedans should start coming off the
assembly line next year.
The concept is to cash in on the burgeoning luxury market in
China, before BMW and Audi, both of whom are well entrenched, get too strong a
hold of the market.
Another car-jacking scheme
This came to me from Peewee Cochlan, who has some contacts
with the ‘other world’ and sent me the following:
Be aware of new car-jacking scheme (this could also be used
as a ploy for kidnapping). Imagine you walk across the parking lot, unlock your
car and get inside. Then you lock all your doors, start the engine and shift
into reverse, and you look into the rear-view mirror to back out of your parking
space and you notice a piece of paper stuck to the middle of the rear window.
So, you shift into park, unlock your doors and jump out of your car to remove
that paper (or whatever it is) that is obstructing your view. When you reach the
back of your car, that is when the car-jackers appear out of nowhere, jump into
your car and take off!
Your engine was running (ladies would have their purse in the
car) and they practically mow you down as they speed off in your car. Be aware
of this new scheme that is now being used.
Just drive away and remove the paper that is stuck to your window later. Be
thankful that you read this. I hope you will forward this to friends and family
especially to women! (I did better than that, Peewee. I printed it here. Dr.
Iain). A purse contains all identification, and you certainly do not want
someone getting your home ad dress. They already have your keys!
Last week I asked what vehicle was first with cogged belt
drive for overhead camshafts? It was the Glas S 1004 of 1962.
So to this week. Where was the Eiffel made? This was a model
made by a famous manufacturer?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]