The magic formula is CH3NO2. For which he slept in chemistry class: according to the textbook, is nitromethane, a colorless liquid, with a little intense smell and highly flammable. Now comes the important thing: nitromethane You can detonate. And the best way to study the look, sound and feel that produce these detonations in practice attend a race NHRA Dragster. The National Hot Rod Association is in the United States (and elsewhere), the highest authority in matters of Dragster.
Such as in cold figures: Car racing Top Fuel (Extremely long thin rods with front folding bicycle tires and powerful 8-cylinder engines in V behind the driver's seat) eat track acceleration in less than four seconds. At the time of passing the finish line, after little more than 300 meters, these rockets 1.1 tons weight can be easily found 500 km / h. During start acceleration it amounts to 4G while braking reaches 5g by a parachute which serves to stop. For safety reasons, the classic distance of a quarter mile (402 meters) has stopped flown since 2009 except for the lower classes: Scott Kalitta suffered a fatal accident a few months earlier.
Fuel dragsters Top: the sound of the beast
He start Top Fuel dragster one can not compared with anything in the world. As much, with the launch of a rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Are the AC / DC you are noisy? Forget them! The 150 dB sound waves of these dragster They leave the legendary group tatters. And the fireworks show also falls short. To three and four meters high flames reach the exhaust pipes curved upwards. For the next Fallas in Valencia I would take me definitely one.
Within the show, It feels the heat up on the podium. And back to nitromethane. "Fuel is the key to power"We Neal Strausbough, team coach Tony Schumacher explains. "Practically, there is the whole trick." The eight-cylinder engines in V, with its good eight liters of displacement, yield between 8,000 and 10,000 hp. "It is difficult to say precisely," Strausbough defends. "There is no evidence that banks can withstand powers of that magnitude. Therefore, the data are mere approximations. "why it delivers more power to a V8 engineYou need much less oxygen to explode and burni you adapt to a mechanical nitromethane you can multiply your power by 2.3pilot Tony Schumachersargeset a record3.755 secondssmoking a huge cigar
A couple of meters to his left, the Mechanical Equipment "Go Army" working at full power because dragster require much maintenance. Seven mechanics turn their keys piecework. Before "the Sarge" has time to take off the fireproof monkey, the V8 engine about 10,000 CV is practically shredded. "The cylinder heads are removed within three minutes; Two minutes later, the engine is completely exploded, "says Neal Strausbough.
However, no rush. It's pure routine: something that has already been done thousands of times. Because Queen drag racing in a relaxed atmosphere. Occasionally, some of the kids loose even a joke. Technical chief and his assistant did not reveal. They are sitting in the truck, discussing the adhesion values of the track and meditating on the best way to program the clutch. The dragster no gearbox. "The trick is slipping the clutch programmed mode," explains Strausbough. Thus, it is planned in great detail how the six-disc clutch with electronic control and pneumatic drive is inserted. The driver has only to step on the accelerator.
It is already one hour to the next round. Mechanics have already reviewed almost every element of the list. Both cylinder heads and connecting rod bearing and main bearing crankshaft have been changed, like bolts of the compressor. "They have planned fracture points," explains Strausbough. "Except for bearings, we need not necessarily use parts in each review. The compressor, for example, holds three races until the next revision, but we must monitor the parts to the millimeter. "
Although faults Top Fuel engines are no longer our daily bread, they can not be avoided altogether, despite all efforts. "Nitromethane is highly explosive, and may well be that combustion can not be maintained within the engine" says Strausbough laconically. Since the compressor housing was discontinued with magnesium and aluminum began to be manufactured, the intake tract has become the weakest link in the chain. For avoid that in the event of an accident, their Shrapnel splinters become, the motor V8 compressor and come encased in a cover of kevlar the engineers call "honeycomb". The cylinder heads are secured by wide straps.
It's time to collect their mechanical tools. One Folds braking parachutes in the back while another fills the tank located at the front. This infernal machine swallows your good 50 liters by race (Ie, in just 300 meters). "The Top Fuel are not particularly efficient," says Strausbough with a smile. "The nitro burns very slowly, so slowly that a part of the combustion taking place just after the escape. To this must be the huge noise and exhaust flames. "
It's time to test the engine. "The Sarge" appears with a gas mask. The V8 is turned on. A murky cloud of exhaust gas, with a horrible smell, is spreading. "I have 15 years in the business of dragsters," says Strausbough, "but not reek never get used." His advice: "You better hold your breath". And so comes the next race: every weekend are held up to eight.
The dragster Top Fuel in figures
- 10,000 CV: The power of an engine Top Fuel
- 534.48 km / h: Maximum speed measured
- 304.8 meters: Distance in the upper classes NHRA
- 3.701 seconds: Fastest time ever measured
- 50 liters: Consumption of a V8 dragster race
- 8.193 cm3: Displacement of the V8 supercharged engine. Based on the Chrysler Hemi V8
- 7,620 mm: Battle of a Top Fuel dragster. 1295 mm width are