Need for speed

Fast and full-on race action at Santa Pod

The smell of the fuel, the heat of the engines…there’s nothing quite like experiencing the high-octane excitement of the track at Santa Pod Raceway.

It’s where you can get up close to the race action, and where gripping moments of edge-of-the-seat suspense and high-drama can be found.

Welcome to the certifiably insane sport of drag racing.

What's it all about?

It’s just a couple of fellows racing head to head – it can’t be that hard, surely? It all depends on the level you play at. As soon as you elevate from the grass-roots club and sportsman level, the sport starts to demand a much greater level of bravery and skill – and a whole new level of respect.

To put it into perspective, watch F1 and you’ll see drivers battling it out on the track in their 800bhp cars. At Santa Pod, you’ll find the top talent there running with up to 10 times the horsepower – as much as 8,000bhp.

Tech talk

Gen up on the jargon and talk like the pros:

  • Burnout – spinning the driving wheels in water prior to the run – this heats and cleans them, giving better traction
  • Christmas Tree – the starting lights controlled by the timing computer
  • Nitro – a result of a chemical reaction between nitric acid and propane, nitromethane is the ultimate fuel, specially produced for drag racing
  • Top Fuel – a class of drag racing in which the cars are run on a mix of approximately 90% nitro and 10% methanol (also known as racing alcohol)
Burning rubber at Santa Pod

Burning the rubber at Santa Pod

Drag racing really is exciting stuff

Getting a heavyweight lump of metal, fuel and rubber to coast along at top speed takes a serious level of mental and financial commitment.

The fuel alone can easily cost hundreds and hundreds of pounds for a single quarter-mile run – nitromethane is actually classed in the same risk group as dynamite – and the engine has to be torn down and rebuilt for every single pass, to ensure that everything is in working order.

The right driver in the right car will hit 100mph in well under a second, and can reach speeds of more than 300mph. Understand that they’re sitting about three inches from what is technically an explosive device, trying to keep it all in line with a pair of push-bike tyres, and you’ll begin to see why Top Fuel drag racing is one of the most thrilling sports on the planet.

(24 October 2013)