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In pre-season testing and again at this weekend’s NHRA Winternationals, Top Fuel Dragsters were recording speeds between 325 - 327 mph. NHRA speed numbers are an average of a car’s speed over the last 60 ft of the track, so if they are averaging 327 mph at the stripe, you can bet the house that they are going 330 mph past that point. I thought that the main reason for the 1000 ft track was to limit speed because the tracks, cars, and maybe rear tires were unsafe at speeds around 330 mph!
If excessive speed is indeed a safety issue and a major concern of the NHRA’s insurance carrier, and if NHRA shortened the race track to deal with that, what do they do now? Isn’t Dan Olson supposed to be in charge of this? Wasn’t he responsible for all of the expensive engine. clutch and ignition testing 2009-10 that resulted in exactly zero changes? Was all that testing just a waste of time and money? Absolutely, in my opinion.. My question is this: what has Dan Olsen actually done since the 1000 ft track was adopted to control the speeds and escalating costs? As far as I know, nothing.
My second question is since the NHRA requires all professional class nitro cars to have an MSD pre-set rev-limiter on the ignition, why doesn’t Mr. Olson simply have the MSD RPM limiter reset to a lower number? The teams wouldn’t have to buy a bunch of expensive parts to make that change. The MSD techs could make the changes in a couple of hours on Thursday of the next NHRA National Event. On the other hand, maybe the NHRA suits really don’t want to slow the fuel cars down, figuring higher speeds sell more tickets.
Was I the only one who noticed that on almost every lap a nitro car equipped with the newly mandated automatic shut-off devices had to be pushed off of the track? That got me thinking that with all of the automatic controls on today’s Top Fuel cars, drivers are actually less and less responsible for what happens to the car.
I believe that Top Fuel dragster and funny cars are the most dangerous and hard to drive cars in the world and as such, I think the drivers of them ought to be held to some pretty stringent standards. Knowing where the finish line is and when to deploy the chutes, or turn off the ignition or the fuel ought to be something a professional driver can do. Maybe it’s time Dan Olsen had an annual driving test for every driver in order to renew their license.
They don’t worry about over-revving the engine ‘cause there’s a rev-limiter or deploying the chutes and turning off the ignition because now that is done for them. NHRA with all of its rules to protect the racers from themselves are reducing the drivers main job to cutting a good light. There are timers and devices on the cars that control almost everything else. The throttle is basically an on/off switch with a mechanical rev-limiter for the burnout.
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