And Nitro For All….
[Author’s note: The editorial deadline for this column prevented elaboration on the effects of the new nitro regulations. Look for continuing coverage here on DRO and InsideTopAlcohol.com of how the new regulations will affect non-professional nitro racers.]
Thankfully, the 2008 racing season is finally upon us. For some, the start of the new season couldn’t come quick enough. I’ve also been down in the trenches thrashing on a new car wishing for another week. Ready or not, the season is here, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store.
Anybody that has followed my writings here and on my website, InsideTopAlcohol.com knows that parity in Top Alcohol Dragster is a subject I and many others feel very strongly about. I’ve used this column to discuss a number of different potential methods to level the playing field between the A/Fuelers and the blown cars. This month, we’ll discuss an option that is so simple, it’s scary, and it just might work.
Rather than make yet another change to the A/Fuelers’ combination, why not give the blown cars a small percentage of nitro? I think the idea holds enough merit to take a hard look at it.
First off, let’s confirm the fact the A/Fuel combination still has a distinct advantage over the blown car. This past weekend in Pomona showed a .05 advantage. Look for that gap to widen when more of the big time A/Fuel teams hit the circuit.
Past attempts to maintain balance within the class have failed. Weight has little effect. Tuners have figured out how to get around percentage reductions. Allowing the blown cars more overdrive hasn’t closed the gap, either.
The prevailing theory as to why the overdrive increase has not worked as well as originally planned is the cylinder heads have now become the limiting factor. In other words, the heads are flowing about as much as they are going to flow. While it certainly puts a premium on having the right heads, custom port work, and brand/design, it’s probably safe to say there isn’t a tenth in the cylinder heads. The rules prohibit any drastic changes to the design of the heads and engine that would allow the significant flow increase to support a tenth or more gain on the track. Basically the airflow they have right now is backing up in the intake and making a higher boost reading on the gauge, but not flowing more through the ports.
The cylinder head flow problem also squashes any hope that a cubic inch increase will help. I have talked to two very well known tuners that have put identically prepared 466 cid motors and 526 cid motors on the dyno. The bigger motor may make around 20 more lbs of torque, but no more horsepower. Essentially, the cubic inches are sitting on top of the intake (blower). Not to mention allowing bigger motors would require quite a bit of new hardware for the teams.
Nitromethane is horsepower. If a small percentage of nitro was given to the blown cars, it would definitely give them a boost. How much would it take? Hard to say, but it could be regulated. Maybe 5% is the magic number, maybe more, maybe less. In the event a blown car was to run quicker than the A/Fuelers, then the percentage could be easily adjusted.
Such a change would be easy to implement. No major hardware changes would be required. The A/Fuel teams could avoid having to reconfigure their tune-up. Granted, changes would be required: rods and/or pistons, transmission ratios and/or rear end ratios, fuel system, etc. Given the state of the class, I think blown car team owners would welcome the opportunity to improve their competitive stance within the class.
I’ve talked to several racers that came from sand drag and other backgrounds that stated very small percentages of nitro resulted in 100 hp or more. A small percentage would help quite a bit.
It’s a simple, effective and manageable way to create more balance in the category. In a way, you could say you’re giving the 4% they took from the A/Fuelers and giving it to the blown cars to create a 100% nitro class.
The main goal of this would be to make 5.20’s as common place for a blown car as they are the A/Fuelers. The top blown teams in the country should run with the top A/Fuel teams.
What do you think? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by and comment on my website InsideTopAlcohol.com. If you’re a fan of Comp Eliminator, stop by InsideCompRacing.com and if you follow Top Dragster and Top Sportsman, stop by InsideFastBrackets.com.