A Lesson in Acceleration

Thanks to Steve from the Backyard Aquaponics Forum for this amazing article. I have left all measurements in imperial so if you want to convert to metric, please do so yourself.


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 1½ 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.
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 1/2way, 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!
This one confused Stan, but stop & ponder the fact that the engine is only used for apx 4 to 5 seconds.
Including the burnout the engine only survive 900 revolutions under

STEVES EDIT: i had to work this out to believe it!
9500RPM/60= 158 rev per second
158×5= 948 revolutions

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 $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 riding the average $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 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.

Wow !!!



4 thoughts on “A Lesson in Acceleration”

  1. Now, ponder this. You’re sitting at the 800′ mark in the stands and you’re shooting with a Nikon D200 with an F3.5 400mm lens. Your camera can shoot 5 frames per second. You press the shutter release when you see the green light on the tree. How many shots can you fire while panning and trying to maintain a good frame perspective before the dragster (or funny car for that matter) is out of your frame?

  2. Hello!

    My name is Calle Brinkhoff and I am from Sweden and I am working on a school project, so I was wondering if I can borrow one of your pictures?

    Greets from Sweden

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