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Triumph TR6 - Adenaline rush

This is not strictly TR6 stuff although it is the contents of an article in our local Triumph club magazine. Just the same, I got a bit of a buzz out of this and though a few other petrol heads might enjoy it too!!

One Top Fuel dragster 500cubic inch Hemi engine makes more horsepower than the first four rows at the Daytona 500.

Under full throttle, a Top Fuel dragster engine consumes 1.5 gallons (5.7 litres) of nitro-methane per second: a fully laden 747 consumes jet fuel at the same rate with 25% less energy being produced.

A Dodge 426 Hemi V8 cannot produce enough power to drive the dragsters supercharger.

With 300 CFM of air being rammed in by the supercharger on overdrive, the fuel mixture is compressed into near-solid form before ignition. Cylinders run on the verge of hydraulic lock at full throttle.

At stoichiometric 1.7:1 air/fuel mixture for nitro methane, the flame temperature measures 7050F.

Nitro methane burns yellow. The spectacular white flame seen above the stacks at night is raw burning hydrogen, dissociated from the atmospheric water vapour by the searing exhaust gasses.

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 halfway, the engine is dieseling from compression plus the glow of exhaust valves at 1400F. Only cutting the fuel flow can shut down the engine.

If a spark momentarily fails early in the run, unburned nitro builds up in the affected cylinders and then explodes with sufficient force to blow heads off the block in pieces or split the block in half.

In order to reach 300mph in 4.5 seconds, dragsters must accelerate at an average of over 4 Gs. To reach 200mph well before half-track, the launch acceleration approaches 8Gs.

Dragsters reach over 300 miles per hour (480kph) before you have completed reading this sentence.

Assuming all the equipment is paid off, the crew worked for free and for once NOTHING BLOWS UP, each run costs an estimated US$1000 per second. The current Top fuel dragster elapsed time is 4.441 seconds for the quarter mile (10/5/03 Tony Schumacher). The top speed record is 333.0mph (533kph) as measured over the last 66 feet of the run (9/28/03 Doug Kalitta).

Putting all this into perspective:

You are riding the average US$250,00 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 RC2IIV hard up through the gears and blast across the start line and past the dragster at an honest 200mph.

The tree goes green for you both at that moment. The dragster launches and starts after you. You keep your wrist cranked hard as 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 of a mile from where you passed him.

Think about it. From a standing start, the dragster had given you 200mph start, has not just caught you, but nearly blasted you off the road when he passed you on a 1320 ft long (402.3m) course.

That folks, is acceleration!

Roger H

Trust Roger to keep finding these little gems.
I've only drag raced a few times but it is one of the most exciting things I ever experienced,and it sure
didn't happen in 4.441 sec.
Keep'em coming Roger, it's going to be a long winter
up here.
Christopher Trace

Another fact that I find interesting is that the engine in that 4.5 second run only revolves about 800 times.
Joe Justice
Joe Justice

Good read..makes you stop and think. No wounder they blow up!
Joe..explain yourself please...does not make sense. Are you saying within that 4.5 seconds, the engine only turns over 800 times?
Seems low when you compare this to an F1. Schue turns his red rocket at 18,000 RPM.

And we think our little hobby is expensive!
Rick C
Rick Crawford

Sometime I think my TR6 costs $1000 per second to keep running!

Don from Jersey
D Hasara


Joe is correct. Consider the math. A dragster engine turns a lot slower than an F1 race, maybe only 10,000rpm. That's 167 revs/second. Multipy that by 4.5 seconds and you have only 752 revolutions! Even at 18,000rpm, it would be only 1350 revs.

I used to be a free-lance photographer covering motor racing. With my press pass, I was able to get into the press box about 20 feet from the cars at the start line. Believe me, standing that close when one of these cars nails a launch is quite an experience! The ground literally shakes. I just wish every car nut could experience it at least once.
Dan Masters

This thread was discussed on 01/12/2004

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