Willowbank Winternationals

Willowbank held the Fuchs Winternationals 2014 Thursday 5th June to Sunday 8th June. There was a massive line up of bikes, compacts, cars, funny cars, doorslammers, alcohol and of course top fuel.

I was disappointed that neither Victor Bray or Ben Bray were there on Sunday for the finals but on Saturday Ben was involved in a serious accident, moving seriously fast. Since Ben was in hospital with potentially serious injuries, Victor understandably pulled out of the finals on Sunday despite getting the green light from Ben to race.

According to the Courier Mail, Ben has suffered three fractured vertebrae, six fractured ribs and bruising to his lungs. He also reported shoulder pain to ambulance officers immediately after the crash but I don’t think that really rates compared to the pain of the aforementioned issues. There has been a huge amount of support for Ben, lots of well wishes have been sent to him already and I hope he’ll make a full recovery and be back in his thunderous beast in no time.

Top Fuel

Nathan managed to capture the start for the top fuel final at about 6PM between Damien Harris (right) and Anthony Begley (left). It was an absolutely spectacular run as the sun was down, lights were on and the massive flames from the exhausts were on full display. Damien took t he win in 4.756s at 283.71mph (456.58kph)! I’ve seen top fuel several times now and each and every time I see them – I am in complete awe at the incredible power, launch speed and the noise.

The noise, the noise, the noise, it is something else entirely – you can literally feel the engine beating while idling in the staging area from 30-40m away. If you put your hands on the ground, it is literally shaking from the engine. When they do their burn out to heat up their tires, it takes that noise to a whole new level – completely uncomfortable to hear if you don’t have ear plugs in. When you think it couldn’t get louder, you’re wrong because when they go full tilt when the lights go green – ohh my god – it is so loud, so much pressure and force it is actually hard to describe for those that haven’t witnessed it first hand!

Interesting Top Fuel Facts

In 2009 when Andrew and I attended the Winternationals last, Andrew took a photo of some interesting facts about top fuel on a sign in front of one of the top fuel pits as we stood there watching them rebuild and engine between races. It is a little hard to read the facts in the image, so I’ve written them out below for your enjoyment:

  • A top fuel dragster motor is 500 cubic inch Hemi engine
  • A stock Dodge 426 cubic inch Hemi V8 engine can not produce enough power to drive the dragsters supercharger
  • The redline is actually quite high at 9500rpm
  • Top fuel engines turn approximately 540 revolutions from light to light
  • Including the burnout, the engine must only survive 900 revolutions under load
  • Under full throttle, a top fuel dragster engine consumes 1.5 gallons (8 litres) of nitro methane per second
  • A fully loaded 747 consumes jet fuel at the same rate with 25% less energy being produced
  • With 3000 CFM (cubic feet per minute) of air being rammed in by the supercharger on overdrive, the fuel mixture is compressed into near solid form before ignition
  • Cylinders run on the verge of hydraulic lock at full throttle
  • At the stoichometric 1.7:1 air/fuel mixture for nitro methane, the flame front temperature reaches 7050 degrees F
  • Nitro methane burns yellow
  • The spectacular white flame seen above the stacks at night is raw burning hydrogen, dissociated from the atmospheric water vapour by the searing exhaust gases.
  • Dual magnetos supply 44 amps to each spark plug, which is the output of an arc welder in each cylinder
  • Spark plug electrodes are completely consumed in a pass
  • After way, the engine is dieseling from compression plus the glow of exhaust values at 1400 degrees F
  • Cutting the fuel flow can only shut down the engine
  • If spark momentarily fails early in the run, unburned nitro methane build up in the affected cylinder and then explodes with sufficient force to blow cylinder heads off the block in pieces or split the block in half.
  • In order to exceed 300mph in 4.5s, a dragster must accelerate at an average of over 4G’s
  • In order to reach 200mph well before half track, the launch acceleration approaches 8G’s
  • The bottom line, assuming all the equipment is paid off, the crew work for free and nothing blows up, each run costs an estimated $1000 per second.