Top Fuel dragsters are well known as the fastest accelerating race cars on the planet, but where do they actually accelerate the hardest? The answer may surprise you.
We got in touch with Rapisarda Autosport International’s Santo Rapisarda Jnr and asked if he would send through a g-force reading from one of his runs – he flicked us through their personal best 1000 foot pass from Pomona, a 3.76 at 322mph.
It doesn’t take long for the car to reach 4G, in fact it’s shortly after it leaves the staging beams – within a quarter of a second of the driver hitting the loud pedal. What follows is kinda interesting! After about half a second the acceleration tapers off, down to just over 3G after about a second of acceleration. After that the magic happens (you can click the image above to see the full res version).
The dragster has increased in speed and downforce from the massive rear wing is now pushing the car down on to the track surface, allowing the tuner to further lock up the clutch and unleash more nitro horsepower. Acceleration can now increase without the risk of overpowering the track.
After that low point of acceleration at about 1.3 seconds into the run, a second later the Rapisarda Top Fuel dragster was pulling a peak of 5.42G at 2.3 seconds into the run, about where the car is passing the 330 foot beams (remembering that the data starts about .2 a second before the car will ‘roll out’ and start the track timing system).
For comparison, a space shuttle pulls about 3G as it launches into orbit. A Bugatti Veyron might hit 1.5G under full acceleration in low gear. But for us the most amazing thing to remember is the Top Fuel dragster is already moving at around 150mph (a touch over 240kmh) before it reaches peak acceleration. For about one second (1.5 seconds after beginning the run) the dragster is pouring on over 100mph (160kmh) for each second of time. Imagine travelling along a freeway at 100kmh, then one second later hitting 260kmh!
As the speed increases, so does the downforce and the drag on the car, while the tyres have also grown, effectively making the gearing taller. All this conspires to reduce the acceleration before the end of the pass arrives and the parachutes come out.
Thanks to Rapisarda Autosport International for sending us this sweet graph, it really does show just how amazing Top Fuel dragsters are!