How Much Do You Know About Top Fuel Dragsters?


By: Robin Tyler

6 Min Quiz

Image: peepo/E+/gettyimages

About This Quiz

In the world of motorsport, nothing is as quick as a Top Fuel dragster! You can have your IndyCar machines, your pure-bred Formula One racers and your NASCAR stock cars... None of them can top a Top Fuel dragster in both the speed and, perhaps more importantly, acceleration stakes. 

Speed is of paramount importance to a Top Fuel dragster. However, it's the acceleration to get these impressive machines to their top speed that makes all the difference. See the green light, hit the pedal and blast off! That's how these behemoths operate.

Top Fuel drag racing is really something to behold, especially when you go to a live event. It's not just about the incredible speed and acceleration; it's the smell of the fuel and burning rubber, the noise of these unbelievable engines and the anticipation of the crowd that make a drag event a must-see!

But just how much do you know about the world of Top Fuel drag racing?  From the men and women who drive these monsters to the performance figures they generate, let's put your knowledge to the ultimate test. 

In 2017, who won the Top Fuel Dragster Championship, becoming only the second woman to do so?

In 2017, Brittany Force, a member of the legendary Force family, was crowned the Top Fuel Dragster champion. She won the series from Steve Torrence by just 81 points.


At full throttle, how much nitro fuel does a Top Fuel dragster use?

A Top Fuel dragster is a thirsty thing. When at full throttle and hurling down the asphalt, it is guzzling 1.5 gallons of nitro fuel a second. That puts it on par with a Jumbo 747 in the thirsty stakes!


Can you name the Top Fuel drag racer to score five championships and 52 victories in his career?

Joe Amato scored 52 drag race victories over the course of his career along with 5 NHRA Top Fuel championships. He was also the first to take his car through the 260 and 280 mph barrier in competition setup.


What speed do Top Fuel dragsters regularly reach in competition?

A Top Fuel dragster in competition setup can reach up to 335 mph. That is over 500 km/h. Now, that is some speed!


In Top Fuel drag racing, who was the first ever African American to be crowned champion?

Drag racing’s first black champion, Antron Brown, has won the championship on no less than four occasions. He is a co-host of Top Gear America.


Travelling at 335 mph, how long does it take a Top Fuel dragster to finish a 1000-foot track?

Travelling at around 335 mph means a Top Fuel covers plenty of ground... fast! In fact, it will cover 1000 ft (around 300 meters) in just 3.6 seconds. Amazing!


How long will it take a Top fuel dragster to travel from a standing start to 60 mph?

In under a second, 0.8 seconds to be exact, a top-fuel dragster is running at over 60 mph from a standing start. That's about three times faster than a sports car like Porsche 911. Within 200 meters of starting, it is approaching 300 mph.


In Top Fuel drag racing, what is the displacement of the engines featured in these dragsters?

The engines in modern Top Fuel dragsters are limited to 500 cubic inches by the National Hot Rod Association. The compression ratio in these engines is around 6.5:1.


What is Top Fuel dragster fuel primarily composed of?

Top Fuel dragster fuel is 90 percent nitromethane and 10 percent methanol. When burned, it provides 2.3 times more power than regular gasoline.


How many exhaust pipe outlets does a Top Fuel dragster have?

Top Fuel dragsters each have eight outlet pipes for their exhaust systems. These are 18 inches long and 2.75 inches in diameter. Made of steel, they are often called "zoomies."


What kind of brake horsepower does a Top Fuel dragster in race trim push out?

10,000 brake horsepower! That's just mind blowing. But yes, that is what a Top Fuel dragster pushes out in order to get the vehicle up to 335 mph over the course of a run.


During a run, spark plugs are provide with how many amps by the magnetos?

Top Fuel dragsters have dual magnetos. These supply the spark plugs in the engine with an incredible 44 amps during a competitive run, which destroys the electrodes.


From the list below, can you name an eight-time Top Car dragster champion?

Tony Schumacher is an eight-time NHRA Top Fuel dragster champion. He titled in 1999, from 2004 to 2009 and again in 2014. In 2005, he recorded the fastest Top Fuel dragster quarter-mile run, with a top speed of 337.5 mph.


What is the redline for one of these dragster's engines?

Strangely enough, for all that power, a Top Fuel dragsters engine does not rev that much higher than a normal car. They spin at around 9,500 RPM at full speed.


Can you guess what kind of G-forces a Top Fuel drag racer will feel when pulling away from the line?

8 Gs! That's fighter pilot territory. But in order to get a Top Fuel dragster up and over the 300 mph mark on a 1000 foot track, that's the force a driver will have to withstand!


Although Nitromethane fuel burns yellow, when running at night, a pure white flame can be seen coming from the exhaust. What gas is burning to produce that?

That white flame is pure hydrogen that has been burned. How? Well, the exhaust stacks get so hot that the hydrogen left to burn after the water vapor is effectively vaporized by the heat. And it looks spectacular!


Top Fuel dragsters are not only fast; they're noisy! How many decibels will an engine at full throttle generate?

A full-revving Top Fuel dragster engine will generate an impressive 150 dB. That's like standing 25 meters away from a jet taking off. Better take some earplugs!


In 1996, which Top Fuel dragster driver died, making him the first fatality in the sport in 25 years?

A NHRA Top Alcohol dragster legend, Blaine Johnson won that class championship for four years in a row from 1990 to 1993. He moved to the prestigious Top Fuel class but died in a crash in 1996, the first fatality since 1971.


Do you know how much a Top Fuel dragster engine weighs?

Lightweight but still powerful, a Top Fuel dragster engine weighs around 496 lbs. That's thanks to the fact that the block and many other parts are made from aluminum. The block itself weighs just 187 lbs.


Who was the first woman to win the Top Fuel dragster championship?

Shirley Muldowney won three Top Fuel Dragster championship titles in the late '70s and early '80s. She was the first woman to be given a Top Fuel dragster racing license and is considered a pioneer in the sport.


What is Shirley Muldowney affectionately known as on the drag racing circuit?

The Top Fuel drag racing champion in 1977, 1980 and 1982, Shirley Muldowney is affectionately known as the 'First Lady of Drag Racing.'


From the list below, can you name the 2018 Top Fuel drag racing champion?

After finishing behind Brittany Force by just 81 points to lose out on the 2017 title, Steve Torrence went one better in 2018. He was crowned the Top Fuel drag racing champion when he finished 304 points ahead of Tony Schumacher.


Can you name the driver that was not only a Funny Car dragster champion, but excelled at Top Fuel dragster racing as well?

Not only has Gary Scelzi won the NHRA Top Fuel championship on three occasions, but he also won the 2005 Funny Car championship as well. Now, that's impressive!


True or false? "Top Fuel drag racers can wear open helmets when racing."

No, not at all. All helmets must be full face with the HANS neck safety devices fitted to them as well. This helps prevent serious neck injuries in the result of an accident.


From the options below, which metal is a Top Fuel engine block forged from?

Although they generate crazy amounts of power, a Top Fuel dragster engine must be relatively light. For this reason, the engine block is forged from aluminum. The cylinder heads are also aluminum.


Who oversees the sport of Top Fuel dragster racing?

The National Hot Rod Assocation oversees Top Fuel dragster racing in the United States. The organization was formed in 1951.


When travelling at over 330 mph at the end of their run, stopping a Top Fuel dragster is difficult. Which of these items help?

Although Top Fuel dragsters do have excellent braking systems, trying to slow down from 330 mph requires additional help. For this reason, at the end of the run, parachutes are deployed behind the vehicle to provide instant deceleration.


From the options below, name the man who was a Top Fuel dragster champion in 1987 and then headed the crew of champion Scott Kalitta twice in the 1990s.

Dick LaHaie was crowned NHRA Top Fuel champion in 1987 and went on to crew Scott Kalitta championship runs in 1994 and 1995.


In 1983, a film was made about Shirley Muldowney, the first woman to be crowned a Top Fuel drag racing champion. What was it called?

"Heart Like a Wheel" starred Bonnie Bedelia in the lead role. Muldowney didn't like the movie at all, but conceded that it was good for the promotion of the sport.


From the start to finish of a race, how many revolutions will a Top Fuel dragster engine have spun?

A Top Fuel dragsters engine will run around 9,500 revolutions per minute when running flat-out. Because they are so darn quick, that means it has only spun around 540 times during a run.


A specialized shield is applied to the roll cage of a Top Fuel dragster. What is it made out of?

Each driver in a Top Fuel dragster sits in a specialized roll cage to provide them with the best possible protection in the event of a crash. This includes a titanium shield that stops any debris from entering the roll cage area and injuring the driver during such an event.


Do you know the name of the Top Fuel dragster champion affectionately known as "The Sarge"?

An eight-time Top Fuel dragster champion, Tony Schumacher has had extensive sponsorship from the U.S. Army. At the beginning of the sponsorship, this led to his vehicle receiving the name of "The Sarge," but this quickly transferred to Schumacher himself due to his buzzcut.


What famous engine are Top Fuel dragster engine layouts based on?

Although it is built of specialist parts, a Top Fuel dragster engine's layout follows that of the Chrysler 426 Hemi "Elephant Engine" produced between 1964 and 1971.


Which Top Fuel dragster's tragic death caused the National Hot Rod Association shorten the track length to 1000 feet?

Scott Kalitta was an American drag racer that competed in both Top Fuel and Funny Car events. Sadly, a crash at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in 2008 while driving a Funny Car took his life after his vehicle went past the run-off area and crashed with a larger piece of heavy machinery. This prompted the NHRA to shorten track lengths; the longer track had caused Kalitta's car to continue gaining speed.


Other than Shirley Muldowney becoming the first woman to win a Top Fuel dragster championship, what was her other claim to fame in the sport?

By winning the Top Fuel dragster championship in 1977, 1980 and 1982, Shirley Muldowney was the first person to take three titles in drag racing's most prestigious class. That is certainly some achievement.


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