NHRA stands for National Hot Rod Association. Funny Car is one of the divisions of racing that occurs at a National event drag race.
When this race car first came out, someone said “that’s a funny looking car”. It’s been called Funny Car ever since.
We’ll start at the beginning, so let’s talk a little bit about the race team.
Each team has a hauler that carries the race cars and equipment from track to track.
There’s two race cars in the top of each hauler and a lot of extra parts for emergency repairs in case of trouble or breakage.
When the team has their pit set up, they take out the Primary race car. The Back Up race car only comes out if the Primary is wrecked or damaged.
They then begin preparing the car to race.
A race car driver is always busy while at the track. He’s either racing, talking with his team about racing or interacting with the race fans.
Tony Pedregon is one of best drivers when it comes to his fans. They love him and he them.
A race car driver must do a certain amount of promotional work for the products of the company paying him to race.
The next 4 photos are from a photoshoot we did in Vegas.
Some people may think it’s glamorous work but when all you want to do is go race, it can be tedious stuff.
But if you don’t make the sponsor happy you don’t get the big check to cover your racing expenses.
Companies spend millions of dollars in sponsorship and they expect to get something in return.
Now let’s talk a little bit about the race car.
The shell of a Funny Car is just that… a shell. It’s made of light weight material called carbon-fiber and basically just covers the chassis and engine.
It provides an aerodynamic package to the race car so that the wind will pass around it and it will help the car stay on the track and get traction, thus going faster.
Also, it provides a place for companies to put their logo’s.
The rear tires on a Funny Car only last about 4 to 6 trips down the quarter mile race track.
That’s about 2 miles per set of tires. Some regular car tires can go 80,000 miles before needing to replace them.
The NHRA Funny car generates 7,000 horsepower and can go down the quarter mile in 4.6 seconds at 330 miles per hour.
A Funny Car can travel the length of more than 4 football fields in less than 5 seconds.
Funny cars use Nitromethane for fuel. It’s very strong smelling and costs about $16 a gallon. You can see the team wears gas masks when the engine is running in the pit area.
Nitromethane is called “Nitro” and is the result of a chemical reaction between nitric acid and propane. Top Fuel Dragsters use it too.
It takes years of experience and knowledge to work on any of the top categories in the NHRA.
A lot of the Pros started off in Grass Roots Racing and worked their way up through the ranks.
Each Crew member has a particular job that they perform several times a day at a drag race.
Again, you need years of experience to get a job on one of these teams.
These days, there’s lots of automotive schools that offer classes, but none where you can go from the classroom to a Pit Area of a Pro NHRA driver.
Notice that the Quaker State is on the back so fans can see it while they work.
Here’s a great shot of the QS logo on their crew shirts.
NHRA fans would love to have the view of the team working like I had this day.
Companies love photos like this, where their logo is prominently displayed.
When the teams are almost ready to go race again, they will run their engines to check them out. The race fans love this and rush up to see.
Then they get a throat full of Nitro fumes and back off pretty quick.
Then there are the fans that bring their own gas masks to enjoy upfront viewing of the Pit Areas while the cars are running.
I mentioned that a Funny car generates 7,000 horsepower. That’s about 37 times that of the average street car.
While the team works, the corporate guests eat, drink and socialize while they watch the team work on the car.
It’s a great way to enjoy a day at the races. It’s much better to be an invited guest to a hospitality area than just to go to the races on your own.
When the drivers come to sign autographs, the line can get pretty long.
At every race, there is always plenty of fire and safety personnel and vehicles. Drag racing can be a deadly sport and has been so before.
When the driver gets ready to race, a team member will help him suit up in his custom made fire suit.
He then gets in the car and the team straps him in.
The air pressure in the tires is so critical that the teams use a white cover to protect the tires from the sun. The sun can heat up the tires and cause the air pressure inside to change, thus affecting how the car performs on the track.
Here’s what a drag strip look like. The race track is a quarter mile long, then there is room to stop. If you have problems stopping, there is a sand pit at the very end. Sometimes that wasn’t enough and drivers have died.
This red building is called the Tower. It’s also called the Suites because corporations lease Suites to entertain their guests here if they don’t want to use a Hospitality tent next to the teams pit area.
The suites are nice because they are air conditioned but you don’t get the feel of a race like you do in the pit area.
Companies also pay big bucks to have their signage on the front of the suites. This is a good location for their logo’s because the TV cameras always catch them when they are filming the racing.
Notice the signage painted on the track. O’Reilly Auto Parts was a big sponsor at this time.
A drag race can have over 100,000 in attendance for a weekend race.
Before every race starts, the military has some role in the opening ceremonies.
When a racer is getting ready to race, he gets his tires wet and does a burn out.
This lays down a layer of hot sticky rubber from his tires onto the track.
He will then back up in the same line he just did the burn out and hopefully race right over the sticky rubber he just put on the track.
This gives him better traction and hopefully he can go faster.
After the burn out, the team checks the car one last time before racing.
A team member will guide the driver up to the two sets of light beams going across the track.
The driver then eases up until the front of his car breaks both sets of beams and his two sets of lights are on, signaling the starter that he is ready to race.
Once both drivers are lined up exactly even, the starter activates the Christmas Tree (a set of lights that light up to start the race) and the lights flash.
When the lights go from yellow to green, the drivers take off for the ride of their lives.
Just imagine going 330 mph in 4.6 seconds. What a rush that must be.
If you win 4 rounds of racing on Sunday, you win your category for that event.
Then you get a trophy and pose for a picture in the National Dragster Magazine.
I’d like to thank Tony Pedregon and his team for allowing me access to their Pit Area and team.
I like drag racing because the drivers are all so nice and personable. The NHRA is the most Fan Friendly Racing there is.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about an NHRA Funny Car.
That completes this NHRA 101 Course. Give yourself 3 Credits towards Graduation. Congratulations on your Quest for a Degree from The Universite de Arachnida.
To see other course requirements for your degree, see next link.
Motorsports Degree Requirements
Any questions and/or comments may be directed to the following:
Dr. Spider Michaels, Phd.