Drag racing. Possibly the most dramatic and exciting of all motorsports and yet, the most misunderstood.
Simply put, a drag race is a race between two cars or motorcycles over one quarter of a mile, from a standing start.
AA’s, Funny Cars, Fuel Altereds and Pro Stocks
Like all motor sports, drag racing is divided into several classes. The ultimate drag racing cars are the AA fuel dragsters. AA is simply the name of the class and
signifies that the cars run on nitro-methanol, a highly volatile liquid producing significantly greater energy than petrol.Theengines used are predominantly supercharged Chrysler V8’s, completely unsilenced, and frequently produce in excess of 1700 bhp.That’s a little more than three times as powerful as a Formula One engine. A good AA fueler will cover a quarter mile in six seconds from a stand still, at a speed approaching 250 mph as it crosses the line.
Slightly slower than the dragsters, although considered even more spectacular by some enthusiasts, are the funny cars, so named because the inclusion of an extra foot or so in their glassfibre replica shells makes them look just a little strange.
Then there are the Fuel Altereds. Looking like nothing so much as model T Fords fitted with huge supercharged engines.
The next class is Pro-Stock. These cars use what are basically current production bodyshells, completely stripped of all trim and interior furnishings and have vastly more powerful engines than standard.
Who first got into drag?
The first drag race was seen in England in 1963, when a team of American stars was brought over from the States to introduce the sport. A staggered British motor racing fraternity couldn’t quite believe its eyes as the likes of Mickey Thompson and Dante Duce reeled off successiveeight and nine second passes down the strip. Between 1966 and 1969
British interest in drag racing developed and the first events took place at Santa Pod (still Britain’s only permanent drag strip) in Northamptonshire in 1966. During the seventies, drag racing has, at last, emerged as a truly spectacular motor sport in its own right.
A first-time spectator might well be a little confused on the occasion of his introduction to drag racing. So many strange and loud things seem to happen at different times and in different places. If fuel dragsters are racing, the first thing you’ll hear is the staccato crackle and mighty bellow of two engines starting up as the competing cars are • either started by a remote device or by being pushed down the fire-up road down to the start area. Once they reach the start, their crew members will swill bleach down onto the tarmac and direct the driver forward so that his rear wheels are resting in it. Bleach softens the tyres and thus improves adhesion.The driver will then put his foot to the floor and spin the rear wheels in the bleach, causing great white plumes of smoke to billow up into the sky.When both cars do this together and arrive simultaneously at the start line proper amidst huge clouds of white smoke with flames bursting from their exhausts, it’s one of the most impressive sights in motor sport. Both cars are ‘staged’ between two narrow timing
light beams, and the countdown begins.Taking up the tremendous power, the huge wrinklewall tyres spin just a little, and in around six seconds, the cars are reaching the other end of the strip, where they jerk to a halt aided by a parachute.
All the drag racing stars in England can be seen racing around the country this summer. Clive Skilton, Denis Priddle, Alan Herridge, Dave Stone and racing disc jockey, Dave Lee Travis, will all be making appearances, plus Roz Prior, first lady in Europe to drive a AA fuel dragster.
Quite simply, drag racing has to be seen to be believed.
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