Nerd’s Eye View – Inside 10,000 horsepower!


One of the more entertaining moments throughout an NHRA weekend is walking down Nitro Alley between qualifying sessions, where engines are fully rebuilt in around 40 minutes.  Johnny Gray's Funny Car team is also part of DSR, and was stationed on the opposite side of our hospitality.  Johnny's team took the overall win that weekend in Kansas.  Witnessing up to eight guys around this scorching-hot motor rebuild the whole thing is like watching a choreographed number.  And with so many teams rebuilding in Nitro Alley at the same time, the musical tune is akin to a few Nascar pit crews making wheel changes during a caution lap.  

I found it cool that, even after the unfortunate and unexpected first round upset of the Matco team here in Kansas, some of the Matco crew jumped in to assist the Gray Motorsports team during an engine rebuild in the later rounds.  It's no wonder why this particular team took its second consecutive overall Funny Car win that day either, putting Johnny Gray in the Funny Car points lead. 


The Electimotion (EM) command module is used to control and monitor ignition timing.  For data logging, many teams use a Racepak Pro III data logger, which monitors all of the extreme temperatures and speeds these cars encounter.


A shot of a sensor distribution box for the fuel system's slide valve, fuel pump, oil pressure and engine boost.


There's even a speed sensor at the front-right wheel, which the team uses to check against rear-wheel speed to dial in clutch activation (more on this in the second article).  The speed also shows up on Antron's Racepak display, although I highly doubt he gets a chance to look at it while at full bore.


A look at the cockpit's Racepak data display, which shows oil pressure, fuel pressure (which Antron can control), RPM and ignition timing–of which is a whopping 65 degrees BTDC, thanks to the slow-burning nature of nitromethane.  Check out the steering wheel.  Forget those shuffle-steering days at the local autocross–you're strapped to an explosive rocket here!

FACT #10:  If you staged a Top Fueler at the starting line and gave yourself a rolling start in your 550hp BMW M5 so that you both could cross the finish line together, you'd have to blast by the Top Fueler at the starting line at 180mph—a speed that most people, even in the tuning world have yet to experience—and stay floored.  While you'd be momentarily side by side at the finish line, you'd be passed with a delta of 150mph (I wonder if you'd also be left picking up shattered window glass from your lap)!

Now click onto the next page for some crazy data logs!


  1. Thanks for the kind words, Charlie! I had gobs of fun doing it. Assuming you have looked through all nine pages published here, this is the only place that I know of. Let us know what you think of part two, which is linked here as well!

    1. I’ve stood next to “Big Daddy” Don Garlits when his crew chief puffed on his cigar and before he tossed into the “bleach” he poured around the slicks, told me to take cover.
      Before anyone had time to react the night sky lit up from his infamous fire burnout. So cool!

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