Drag Racing Engines Pierre SD
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Drag Racing Engines
By Brendan Baker
From the early days of drag racing up until the recent past, racers built everything for their cars themselves, from the engines and chassis to the shop equipment. Most racing teams pulled their racecars to the track behind the family station wagon or pickup truck. The personalities who participated in the sport were as colorful as they were resourceful.
Today, drag racing is as much business as it is sport. According to our select panel of experts, drag racing has become a turnkey business, which bodes well for engine builders who wish to reach the staging line of this niche market.
The first dragsters of the early 1950s were lightly modified production-based vehicles with virtually stock engines. By the mid 1970s, after “Big Daddy” Don Garlits lost part of a foot when his transmission exploded, Top Fuel dragsters began to take their current form with the engine in the back and big airfoil rear wings for aerodynamic downforce. Speeds soon climbed to the 270 mph mark, and by the late 1980s the 300 mph barrier had been broken.
Today the speeds are even greater, and drag racing continues to feed the speed culture of America. The sport today is a multi-million dollar industry and hundreds of engine suppliers test their products on the track on Sunday before selling them on Monday.
NASCAR’s billion-dollar industry oval track stock car racing may be getting a lot attention these days but drag racing has a dedicated fan base as well, with the largest amount of active participants of any of the motorsports disciplines. According to the Motorsports Industry Association, there are 155,000 active drag racers in the United States alone, and drag racing is gaining in popularity internationally, too. That’s a load of potential engine sales for performance engine builders who may be interested in building these fire-breathing monsters. The top levels of drag racing in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) are full of professional teams with large corporate sponsors and big dollar racing budgets. In most cases, these professional race teams have their own engine programs and often they build engines for some of the smaller teams as well. Top Fuel and Funny Car teams tear down their engines after every run because with 7,000-plus hp, drivers are basically sitting on controlled bombs.
For the professional performance engine builder, the drag racing market offers the greatest potential at the grassroots level think Sportsman and Bracket racing. These classes are where engine builder’s services are most in demand, according to drag racing experts.
“Ninety percent of what we do is build drag racing engines, and most of them are for Sportsman and Bracket racers,” says Dick Fox of Champion Racing Engines in McCordsville, IN. “We build a lot of big block and small block Chevy engines fo...
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