The Joy of Drag Racing | Five Reasons You'll Love the NHRA

The Joy of Drag Racing | Five Reasons You'll Love the NHRA

David Straughan
4 minute read

When it comes to auto racing, Formula 1 is king worldwide and NASCAR reigns supreme here at home. That is, if you’re only going by the money and TV ratings. When it comes to pure racing, however, we’re convinced that NHRA drag racing can’t be beat. Here are just a few reasons why we think the NHRA is the best game in town:

Heart-Stopping Action

How much action can you pack into 3.64 seconds? If you’re the NHRA, it turns out it’s quite a bit. That’s how much time the average Top Fuel race lasts. F1 and NASCAR are long, slow burns lasting a few hours. NHRA races, on the other hand, start and finish before you can take a sip of your drink. Given the short length, nearly every race results in a nail-biting photo finish, with merely a few feet between victory and defeat. Add to that the constant mix of flames, smoke and chrome and you have yourself something special.

Up Close and Personal

At an NHRA event, every single ticket is a Pit Pass. People can watch the pit action from as close as five or 10 feet, meaning fans at these races have direct access to drivers and some of the most highly-skilled mechanics on Earth. Drivers more often than not will hang around after the race to personally sign autographs and take pictures with their fans.

Mechanical Greatness

NHRA dragsters are feats of engineering. Here’s a little math: A top fuel dragster accelerates from a standstill to 100 mph (160 km/h) in as little as 0.8 seconds (less than one third the time required by a production Porsche 911 Turbo to reach 60 mph (100 km/h))<1> and can exceed 280 mph (450 km/h) in just 660 feet (200 m). This subjects the driver to an average acceleration of about 4.0 g0 (39 m/s2) over the duration of the race and with a peak of over 5.6 g0 (55 m/s2). At maximum throttle and RPM, the exhaust gases escaping from a dragster's open headers produce about 900–1,100 pounds-force (4.0–4.9 kN) of downforce. The huge airfoil over and behind the rear wheels produces much more, peaking at around 12,000 pounds-force (53 kN) when the car reaches a speed of about 330 mph (530 km/h). If math isn’t your thing, here’s the short version: Top Fuel cars go faster than any car you’ve likely ever driven, by a lot. To do this, they need to be very light. However, because they are light, all that force can lift them right off the ground. In addition, all that downforce and g force can literally tear the car apart. Therefore, Top Fuel cars need to be incredibly well-engineered to hit all their marks on speed, safety and durability.

An All-Day Affair

Most sporting events last a few hours, meaning you’ll often spend more time getting to and from the event than at the actual event. Not so at a day at the NHRA races. NHRA events are an all-day family affair, or even an all-weekend one for the dedicated. With lots of downtime between events, there is always plenty to see and do around the stadium.

Fun For The Whole Family

Most sports have pretty limited demographics. Not so with the NHRA. Those unfamiliar with the NHRA might not know that women are well-represented in the sport and compete right alongside the men. One great example of this is the Force family. NHRA legend John Force is 16-time Funny Car winner and one of the most dominant racers of all time. At 69 years old he still participates in nearly every major event of the season. Three of his daughters, Ashley, Brittany and Courtney, are major players in the sport as well. This is reflected in the stands, too. NHRA races are multi-generational and popular among both men and women. This means everyone has fun at the events, not just Dad. At Strutmasters, we love any and all auto racing, but the NHRA will always have our hearts. That’s why we sponsor. Go Clay! Stomp that loud pedal! Strutmasters is a proud sponsor of Clay Millican and the Stringer Performance Racing Team.

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