Even with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declaring that environmentalism in California is officially and henceforth to become hip and sexy, it's easy to forget that the very coolest motor going Californians have been messing around with alternative fuels with great success since the '50s. At the apex of California drag racing, hundreds of professional and homebuilt racecars descended onto quarter mile dragstrips every weekend and burned up some of the most exotic alternative fuels ever run through an internal combustion engine. Nitromethane was the featured alternative fuel of choice this last weekend at the California Speedway in Fontana. While the legendary SoCal drag strips have sadly moved into history, vintage drag racing soldiers on thanks to retroactive adherents to the Governor's new policy.
Nitromethane is an organic brew which contains not one molecule of petro fuel. A splash of methanol alcohol may be thrown into the mix for various reasons, but the true madmen tip in the whole can and run a near 100% mix of the good stuff. Nitromethane also carries along with it a few oxygen molecules in its structure, which when combined with a few atmospheres of boost culled from a roots-type supercharger and crammed through a Chrysler Hemi or Chevy makes horsepower not in the hundreds range - but into the multiple thousands. The Nostalgia Nitro Shootout this last weekend at the California Speedway brought out not only a good number of front engine Top Fuel Dragsters but also a solid lineup of Funny Cars. The rest of the race cars were running either methanol, or an odd mix of race gasoline and nitrous oxide. Always remember to support alternative fuels, and your local dragstrip.
Nostalgia Nitro Shootout [nostalgianitroshootout.com]