What are Top Fuel Dragsters and how do they work?


Top Fuel dragsters are the fastest sanctioned category of drag racers, with the fastest competitors reaching speeds of 330 miles per hour (530 km/h) and finishing the 1,000 foot (305 m) runs in 3.7 seconds. They’re some of the fastest vehicles on the planet. In fact, just one of the eight cylinders in a Top Fuel engine makes as much horsepower as a NASCAR Sprint Cup car! Did you know that under full throttle, a dragster engine consumes 11.2 gallons of nitro methane per second; a fully loaded 747 consumes jet fuel at the same rate with 25% less energy being produced!

On this episode of Popular Mechanics’ “How’d They Do That” we’re gonna see how it actually works. In this video, you will also find what it takes to go 1000 feet in no more than 3.9 seconds at a rocket speed of 320MPH. They need nitromethane, a special kind of fuel, which is how these cars got the Top Fuel name. Their super powerful engines have to be fed with much more concentrated power, which is no accident. It’s a complicated balance, requiring the cars to be tuned specifically for the fuel, and the fuel to be manufactured specifically for the cars. That is why they need parachutes to slow them down. Blink twice and the race with these dragsters will be over. A top fuel dragster can’t be out-accelerated by another ground vehicle because they are made with one purpose – speed!

Check out the video to learn more for that insane acceleration!