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Old 01-21-2008   #1 (permalink)
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Dragster Engines: Interesting Stats

Nothing to do with Mustangs, but engine enthusiasts will be interested in this set of figures for big power dragster engines.

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 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 vapour 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. Only cutting the fuel flow can shut down the engine.

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 only approximately 540 revolutions from light to light!

Including the burnout, the engine must survive 900 only revolutions under max 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, 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 (Oct 5th 2003, Tony Schumacher). The top speed record is 333.00 mph (533 km/h) as measured over the last 66' of the run (Sept 28 2003 Doug Kalitta).

Putting all of this into perspective:

You are riding the average US$250,000 Honda MotoGP bike. 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 RC211V hard up through the gears and blast across the starting line and past the dragster at an honest 200 mph (293 ft/sec). The 'tree' goes green for both of you at that moment. The dragster launches and starts after you. You keep your wrist cranked 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 your 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.
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