OK Then: What About Drag Racing?

Illustration for article titled OK Then: What About Drag Racing?

You all had such strong reactions to our little NASCAR query that we're going to keep it going. So, for those of you who bitched and moaned about, "turn left, turn left, turn left, turn left," here's a motorized endeavor that features no turning whatsoever. Just machines barreling straight down a quarter mile runaway. Totally lost on Europeans (who the hell cares about 402.336 meters?) drag racing is about as American as it gets. Half the kids I went to high school with had Chevelles and '55 Bel Airs that could (supposedly) run in the 11s. And these were 16-year-olds. And we will be the first to admit that the times and speeds being achieved by modern top fuel dragsters are mind boggling. 4.5 seconds at 330 mph doesn't even make sense, let alone the fact that drivers are subjected to 6 Gs under acceleration. That said, we find drag racing pretty dull and would rather watch NASCAR. Also, many complained that drifting is nothing but an exhibition. Pot kettle black much?


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I don't know. I do find it tedious and boring on the teevee. In its defense, though, some of the physics are as nifty as those in Formula 1. The tires may be one trick ponies, but the fact that they're strong enough to withstand the wrath-of-Zeus levels of power that are applied to them, yet supple enough to grip like they do is mind-blowing.

There are also occasional feats of brilliant driving, if only for split seconds at a time, when they "pedal" the cars—lifting off the trottle ever so slightly when the car starts to break loose down the track while accelerating at 6 G's, and then getting right back into the power. That takes reflexes and cojones in equal portions.

And if you ever get a chance to see top fuel dragsters in person, I highly recommend it. The smell of the nitromethane exhaust hanging in the air combined with the stench of burning bleach and rubber on the hot asphalt, and the furious sound they make is intoxicating. You also really have to be there tracking the cars with your own eyes to appreciate how ri-goddamn-diculously violent the acceleration truly is.

I probably won't ever go again, but it's something to experience, if only once.