Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Artist Entry: Gaza guitarist Mike Mason ain't no Ricky Bobby

Im going to change the substance of these blogs and write about something better known to me.

For my entire life thus far, I have been involved with drag racing. It has been from the later years in the '90s since my father and grandpa moved into the "Nostalgia" top fuel dragster class. Yes, to my knowledge, this could be the most appreciated hereditary fortune that has been passed down - next to our patrimonial chance of heart disease.

With this blog, I'm going to relate the "Nostalgia" top fuel dragster, to the contemporary top fuel dragsters. For those who read this and have no idea what I am talking about, top fuel is the quickest and fastest class of the "sport."

These dragsters run on a fuel called Nitromethane, which is a cousin to the more familiar Nitroglycerin. The stoichiometric (chemically exact) air/fuel ratio of nitromethane is 1.7/1, which means with certain atmospheric conditions, Nitro needs 1.7 cubic inches of air to burn 1 cubic inch of fuel. Most unleaded gases are close to 14.6/1. Since Nitromethane already has an oxygen content in it, it can make a lot more power, due to the small portion of air that can be contained with each fire of a cylinder.

From what I have seen, the average person does not have an idea of how much money these cars require to run. To give you somewhat of an idea - to average out things - you're looking in the promised land of $1,000/second to run one.

The only reason they call them "Nostalgia" top fuel dragsters, is that the driver sits behind the engine. This is how they came to be in the late '50s and early '60s. Of course, there is nothing on these cars that are "nostalgic" in any sense of the word today.

There is still a huge difference between the two classes. I'll list a few: Lets start with the rear tires. On the "Nostalgia" top fuel cars, they are limited to a 12-inch rear tire. The contemporary top fuel cars have an 18-inch tire. The rear-end gear ratio is, at its lowest ratio of 3.90/1. Modern day is at 3.20/1. As far as the engines: The modern day are all in some way, a 500" c.i.d.

The NTF class has a variety of ways and set ups you can have. Whether its a donavan, a hemi, a small or a big block chevy. Now I believe the max C.I.D. you can have in the NTF is 450", but the weight of your car is determined by the cubic inch of your engine. Fuel pumps have become an issue in the NTF class the last couple years, but I'll perhaps talk about that another time.

They can now have a fuel pump that flows 22 gpm (gallons per minute) at 4500 rmp, (9,000 engine rpm). The modern day can have whatever will work. The fundamental idea is that the more fuel you can make the engine burn, the quicker and faster you will go.

Most of the modern day top fuel cars have double inlet pumps that can pump up to 106 g.p.m. To get and idea of how much fuel they are burning, think of two 55 gallon barrel's being burnt in one minute. Nitro is on average around $25/gallon right now. 11-14 gallons a run can already start to add up the costs.

The Clutch on the NTF is a centrifigal three-disc clutch. How aggressive you want the clutch to be is related to how much weight you put on it. The more weight, the faster/harder the clutch arms will open up (in theory). The modern day clutch set ups are usually a five/six disc clutch. everything is run on an air timed system, so you can specifically operate when and where you want the clutch to lock up. This is controlled by your right foot. Once you step on the throttle, it is activated. On modern day top fuel cars, this also controls the fuel, and the magnetos (spark).

Nothing on NTF's can be controlled by air except for the parachutes. Superchargers are also a difference. The NTF's are limited to a 6-71 blower. Where as the modern day are a 14-71, a decent amount bigger. Over the years they have gone from a cast casing/rotors ($1,900/6-71) to a cast casing/billet rotor ($2,800/6-71), to an even better cast casing/billet rotor ($5,000/6-71) To now a billet casing and a billet rotored blower (some PSI models are $20,000).

These are just some of the differences, and perhaps I'll continue with another writing about some of the issues these classes are having. But for a "Nostalgia" top fuel car to go in the 5.60's in a 1/4 mile well into the 250 mph range is at the least ubsurd. For the modern day dragsters to go 4.40's and over 330 mph is beyond me.

You need to see one of these in real life. T.V. does no justice. In Baskerfield, Calif, March 6-8, the March Meet is going on. So go to it if you're near that area. It will not disappoint you.


1 comment:

Mike Pratt said...

Rad, i used to work in a hot rod shop building cars.