Methanol is more dangerous than race gas?
What was NHRA thinking? Where did they get their information?
I realize that sometimes I just don’t understand certain rules or why they were changed but when I read some of the Advanced E.T. and General Rules in the new NHRA rulebook I could not believe my own eyes. If you use methanol for fuel in your fast Super Pro or Advanced ET race car, you'd better read this closely.
I am not sure where to start this article but in a few seconds I will get going on it. First, I want to let you know I am not trying to re-write the rulebook. I simply want to know why these new rules, mostly pertaining to methanol-fueled bracket racers and racers who have decided to upgrade to a “real” head and neck restraint are targets for new safety rules?
First, let me explain what caused this article to be written. I was looking through the 2008 NHRA rulebook for any changes that would affect my son or me and our two dragsters. We run some Top Dragster, local Quick 16 events, Super Comp and, of course, some Super Pro bracket races.
The first rule I noticed that would create a problem was in Advanced ET Rules. 7.49 seconds and faster.
Section 5B – Driver:10:
(Paragraph 5) Rear-engine car equipped with nitrous oxide or turbocharged or supercharged or naturally aspirated with methanol: Jacket and Pants meeting SFI Spec 3.2A/15, gloves and boots or shoes meeting SFI Spec 3.3/5.
(Paragraph 6) Naturally aspirated [i.e., all others]: Jacket and Pants meeting SFI Spec 3.2A/5 and gloves meeting SFI Spec 3.3/1.
WHAT! You are kidding me, right? If I run 7.49 seconds with my methanol fueled dragster I need a new $1200 3.2A/15 firesuit, new 3.3/5 gloves and shoes but if another racer runs, let’s say, 7.40 seconds using racing gasoline he can still use his old 3.2A/5 jacket and pants, he does not need fireproof shoes and can use the lightweight 3.3/1 gloves. WHAT? What am I missing here? I thought gas was flammable too!
Has NHRA come to the conclusion that if a methanol fueled dragster has an accident the fire is worse than a similar crash by a dragster with a tank full of high-octane racing gasoline? I hope that wasn’t their reasoning because it is terribly flawed. Either fire can kill you and if you are in the fire it won’t matter. The rule should try to protect each racer the same, given the same E.T. and speeds and class they are racing in, right?
For those of you that just bought a new 3.2A/5 fire jacket and pants and run alcohol carburetors or fuel injection AND can run 7.49 or faster, you wasted your money. You will need an SFI Spec 3.2A/15 fire jacket and pants as well as 3.2A/5 boots/shoes and gloves.
I wonder if the NHRA rule makers have even been to a bracket race like the 5-Day in Bradenton or the Moroso 5-Day. This year there were probably 60 bracket cars dialed below 7.40 and a few were racing with 6-second dial-ins! Most of the dragsters that are that fast are on race gas, not methanol.