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By Wayne Scraba
Photos courtesy GM/MPR

Mid-eight second laps from a four-cylinder door car are quick in anyone’s book, but mix in driving the front wheels, and the “wow factor” goes up exponentially. It’s now no secret that with a bit of work, serious four digit horsepower can be wrung from itsy-bitsy four and six cylinder engines. Sophisticated, programmable electronic fuel injection systems have led the way to taming big turbo and/or equally big nitrous combinations. As a result, finding horsepower isn’t the issue it once was. Getting that horsepower to the track is.


When dissected (during the construction process), it’s easy to see that one of the new FWD Hot Rod class cars actually have a lot in common with something like a SS/GT car. As you can see, the roll cage in this car is a funny car style job.

On a conventional (for drag racing) rear wheel drive application, the hook is a pretty well sorted out arrangement. As the car accelerates, weight is transferred to the rear; the tires receive even more traction and the car rotates the earth, rocketing toward the finish stripe. Pretty simple stuff for most drag racers. On a front wheel drive combination, things get complicated. Here’s why: The physics really doesn’t change. Weight is still transferred backwards. Therein lies the problem: In a FWD racecar, the big tires are on the front. The little ones are on the back. Something has to give.

Part of the solution is weight management. The thinking in a high-powered FWD car is a wee bit different than most of us are accustomed to. For example, the batteries, fuel cell, oil cooler, oil tank, overflow bottles and anything else that might be “normally” mounted at the rear of the car, or at least mounted “rearward” in the car is in a different spot in a high horsepower FWD racecar. In some cases, most of this stuff is actually mounted as far forward in the car as possible. That concept, coupled with front mounted ballast makes for a decided front heavy bias, which in turn, helps the car hook.


Of course, the above is a true simplification. There’s much more to making one of these cars function in a drag racing application. For example, healthy wheels and tires have to be stuffed into the front of the car. Factor in room to work on the engine, work on the transaxle, service the various bits and pieces and what you come up with could be considered by many to be an absolute packaging nightmare: In a conventional drag car, the hardware is more or less spread out. Heavier bits go to the back, lighter stuff toward the front. There’s a place (and room) for almost everything you can imagine, even in small cars. But in a FWD combination, the pressure is on to jam everything into a tiny, but serviceable spot.

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