When there is 8,000 horsepower of nitro aggression to control in a supercharged Top Fuel dragster race engine to control, things are far from an exact science.
For Western Australian Top Fuel racer Mark Sheehan, his new car might be state of the art but he says they are keen to make more runs soon to get it out of a testing phase and into one where they can be competitive at the highest level.
“Most definitely we are still testing, we’ve still got to fine tune the direction we are heading in with the clutch and start making some headway to where the car needs to be,” he said.
Sheehan explained that when the car was first brought out, a cylinder head issue meant the car was not making enough power, which in turn was hiding another issue with the clutch.
“At first the car would not rev up and do what we wanted to do, then at the second meeting we had clutch issues and it wasn’t until we took the ‘handbrake’ off the engine and we got the thing to make power that we found that,” he said.
The dragster utilises a new six disc clutch – in layman’s terms it makes the engine more flexible to tune to difficult racing conditions than the a five disc clutch, but it means a team must virtually start from scratch with their set ups.
“You talk to everyone that runs the six disc clutches and they say they would never go back, but then you talk to teams who are trying to nut it out for four or five or six race events,” he said.
Sheehan’s team has been busy not just in solving such technical issues but also in expanding the operation to have its own truck and trailer, as well as completing wife Sharon’s new Competition-division dragster.
“Sharon’s car will be finished in two weeks so then we will be able to get stuck into the nitro cars,” he said. “It’s a beautiful car and she’s very excited to race it.”