This Is What It's Like Onboard a Top Fuel Dragster

Over 330 mph. A thousand feet in less than four seconds. A driver easily will feel more than four times the weight of gravity pressing upon their chest. The acceleration is enough to cause serious eye problems. This is what it’s like onboard a Top Fuel dragster.

I’ve mentioned the eye thing before, so why not talk about what it does to your ears? Top Fuel dragsters top out around 150 decibels, according to ESPN (emphasis mine):

“Your bones literally rattle,” echoes NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, who raced in one of NHRA’s lower-level divisions earlier this year, “and the drag racers get a sick pleasure in taking rookies to the starting line and putting us between the two nitro cars. If you aren’t ready, it hurts. It feels like someone is sticking a Taser into your ear canal.”


We like to talk all the time about when cars will exceed human limits. With Top Fuel dragsters, we may already be there.

But I’ll still watch. Oh yeah, I’ll still watch.

Correction: Top Fuel dragsters actually go 1000 feet in a race, not a full quarter mile, because they really are TOO FAST. Seriously, it was a safety issue. Thanks to everyone for pointing it out!

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Michael Ballaban

Deputy Editor, Jalopnik. 2002 Lexus IS300 Sportcross.

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