Another week, another ”narrated gallery” from me. Well.. Where do I start? I guess I could start from last Friday. I woke up to a phone call at 10 am, it was my brother calling me.
”Hey, you up?” My answer was no. ”Pack your bags, we’re going to Alastaro.” My answer? ”Sure, call me when you get here.”
Not your usual run of the mill story when it comes to motorsport events. Before the Nitro Nationals, I had never been to a ”real” drag racing event, so here it goes – my experience. Bear in mind though – I’ll mostly focus on the Top Fuel racing this time.
I’m used to the drift people, so this was a whole new world to me. The people of drag are more focused, more determined. They’re serious. That also means that I got to capture lots of different kinds of emotions.
Not the last one though. That is Björn. Björn is one of the sweetest guys I met.
Which was odd to my eyes though, and I can’t stress this enough: The friendliest, most accommodating people were the Top Fuel teams (especially the guys of Nitrobear Racing). It might be the nitromethane fumes. They were the constantly smiling, posing for shots and there even was a driver (Björn) cracking jokes while sitting in his dragster at line-up. Here you’ll see a standard member of a Top Fuel crew.
Here is why I suspect the nitromethane. This is a shot of Björn’s dragster idling.
Seriously though, that stuff gets all up in your mouth, nose and eyes if you’re within a 20 meter radius. Oh and how it burns.
The experience is absolutely worth the hassles though. Top Fuel really is something you have to experience first hand. Feeling the earth shake under your feet because of an oversized kart really is amazing.
They also do mad burnouts ☺
And sometimes they just.. Burn.
But let’s get back to Top Fuel later and hop to the smaller things for a minute.
Yes, I know – That really is small. It was fun to see young people of all ages also get their runs down. They and their machines might be 1/4 of the size, but they take things just as seriously as their big counterparts. It was especially warming to see the reactions of their team members. Uh.. Parents.
Shall we move up in size now? How about we visit drag bikes – the people who REALLY seem to have a death wish. Who else in their sane mind would find a thousand horsepower coupled on a 380 kilogram chassis inviting?
That sure is a lot of buttons to handle when you’re busy trying to turn a mini rocketship with your bodyweight.
Getting your front end down at the 200 meter mark, what else has a tendency to do so?
Yes, the ones still resembling cars!
Did you see the guy running from the car’s way on the last image? Why would he stay there in the first place?
Focus on the way their tires act under such heavy acceleration.
The mechanical beauty of them didn’t come to life before night.
Now as we’ve gotten to the pits with the images, let me show you more of the Top Fuel world. The guys of Nitrobear Racing let me in on their thing and introduced me to what a real Top Fuel dragster functions like. And showed me all that makes it work. Now imagine the force this rear end has to put up with.
There is nothing but five clutch plates, which are sequentially connected, one by one as you travel, between the output of the engine and the ground. The cars have two gears – drive and reverse. The cockpit also only holds two pedals – clutch and the accelerator. Brakes are the death of speed, as they say over here. There really isn’t any room for luxury or comfort in those things. Everything is as functional as it can be. Even the tiny plate holding the only display up in the cockpit – pure carbon fiber.
Now, every time they need to start up the engine in pits, they’ve got gas masks for the whole team. Literally, gas masks! And check out this edge of the front wing. They’ve ran the car for less than 5 events and look at how the edges of it are just worn away from speed itself.
The Top Fuel racers are given 42 minutes of pit time between runs. During this time, they have to completely disassemble the engine to the block, inspect it for damage, fix and replace anything that requires so, and tune it. The clock ticks down on the second the car is on the track. Here’s a really neat graph they’ve got on the wall of the trailer, giving every single member of the crew their assignments by the minute. They’ve got the engine disassembled to the clean block in NINE minutes! And they say that this graph includes some slacking.
And if something does need fixing, they carry FOUR of EVERY SINGLE part. As I was looking around the trailer, trying to remember all the new information I was told, suddenly opens the fridge, or what I thought it was to be. Two small doors in the wall of the trailer revealed two ready-to-go and prepped engine blocks just sitting on shelves. Talk about being prepared..
Here’s what the inside of the trailer itself looked like. It contained so, so much useful stuff in such a small space, it’s astounding. If I remember correctly, the fully loaded trailer weighed around 30 tons, that’s a lot. Even for a racing team. Here you see the majority of the first level, which also houses the full-sized dragster itself when on the road. I really couldn’t believe that at first. The second floor contains beds and accommodation for the crew.
In the end, this experience was something very new for me. With this post, I intended to show you some highlights of it. The guy who I absolutely have to thank for showing me the pro drag life is Nitrobear’s Frederik Karlsson. Here’s a definitely-not-cliche ending shot to complete it all.
Find More on Remi’s Facebook Fan Page
// BONUS IMAGES