The Physics
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Speed of a Dragster or Funny Car

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Bibliographic Entry Result
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Henderson, Tom. Kinematic Equations and Problem-Solving. The Physics Classroom. "A dragster accelerates to a speed of 112 m/s over a distance of 398 m. Determine the acceleration (assume uniform) of the dragster." 112 m/s
Top Fuel Dragster Specifications. Oz Top-Fuel Racing. 15 June 2003. "ET and Speed in ¼ mile: Under five Seconds with speeds exceeding 300 miles per hour" >134 m/s
Don Garlits. International Motorsports Hall of Fame. 6 April 2005. "In 1986 Don Garlits drove his dragster to a NHRA record of 271.08 mph, breaking the 270 mph barrier." 121.18 m/s
Quarter-Mile Record Holders. National Hot Rod Association. 17 May 2006. [see table below] 150.27 m/s

Drag racing is a type of auto racing that began in the United States. Unlike most auto races such as stock car racing or formula one, drag racing does not feature packs of cars and long round tracks. Instead, it is a head to head race between two cars on a short 402 m (¼ mile), straight track.

There are five professional classes of dragsters. They are top fuel dragster, top fuel funny car, pro modified, pro stock, and pro stock bike. Of these, top fuel and funny cars are the most popular. Top fuel dragsters are the fastest class of dragsters, capable of reaching speeds of up to 150 m/s. Funny cars are basically top fuel dragsters with a body over the chassis. As a result, funny cars are usually slower than top fuelers.

Top fuel dragsters frequently reach speeds of 134 m/s (300 mph) during their runs. The current speed record for any dragster is 150.27 m/s (336.15 mph) by a top fuel dragster on a run by Tony Schumacher on May 5, 2005.

Class E.T. Speed Date Driver/Car Location
TF 4.437   10/01/05 Tony Shumacher - Long Grove, Il/'04 R.E.D. Hadman Joliet, Il
TF   336.15 05/25/05 Tony Shumacher - Long Grove, Il/'05 Hadman R.E.D. Hebron, OH

Drag racing is more than just putting the pedal to the metal. It requires a lot of skill to control a vehicle that can travel up to 150 m/s. If that isn't enough, dragsters have the highest acceleration of any wheeled vehicle. With such short tracks and such high speeds, professional drag races typically take less than 10 seconds to go from start to finish. Drivers must have lightning fast reaction times in order to compete competitively. They must be able to react swiftly and switch gears at the correct moment. Given that most races are over within seconds, there is very little margin of error. One tiny mistake could mean the difference between winning and losing.

Davis Chen -- 2006