Top Fuel rear-end ratio rule -- opinion

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>From: Glenn Thompson <glenn@ALLDATA.COM> ================================================================== Glenn Thompson (glenn@alldata.com) Automotive Technical Editor Alldata Corporation, Elk Grove, Ca. A...

>From: Glenn Thompson <glenn@ALLDATA.COM>

==================================================================

Glenn Thompson (glenn@alldata.com) Automotive Technical Editor Alldata Corporation, Elk Grove, Ca.

A while back I posted conserns about NHRA's Top Fuel rear-end ratio rule, the one that mandates a 2.90 to 1 ratio as the highest ratio allowed.

This rule was put in place as a means to keep the Fuel cars under 300 mph.

It didn't work of course, but what it did do was place extra strain on these 6000 horsepower nitro burning engines in the form of ultra high top end RPM's. These things run on the verge of hydraulic-ing as it is burning 12-15 gallons of fuel per pass in an amazing 5 seconds or less. Requiring Fuel teams to intentionally add stress in the form of excessive engine RPMs to win is unsafe, parts failure becomes iminent.

And how do they make these things go 300+ ?? Well more fuel, what else! Oh, AND (because of this ratio rule) they let'em rev about a thousand RPM more than they safely should, up to around 8-9 thousand RPM. It seems NHRA would rather trust the mechanical parts of a 500 cubic inch nitro motor to stay together above 8-9 thousand RPM over the top fuel driver's ability to stop his car after say a 320 mph run. Well IMHO this rule has led to MANY MORE finish line engine explosions than was seen before they were running 300 mph with the higher gear ratios. The way things have progressed NHRA is now trusting a top fuel driver's ability more and more to stop his 298 mph car after the engine has blown sky high then oiled down or blown out a rear tire(s). Stopping the car from a 320 mph pass (car/engine intact) seems pretty easy when compaired to that.

Now I'm not saying these engines never blew at the finish line before this ratio rule was implemented but it's clear to me that finish line engine explosions have dramaticly increased recently and I for one am pointing the finger at this ratio rule as being the primary reason.

Now what does all this rule complaining have to do with our dearly departed Blaine? If you've seen video of his ill-fated run you can confirm this, if you haven't, it did indeed blow up big-time, right at the finish line while traveling at some 303 mph. In my opinion it was the classic over-rev-ed engine explosion that has become all too common in the Fuel classes. Blaine's engine gave no signs of even the slightest problem before it just let go at the finish line, no spitting from the exhaust like they do before they let go, nothing! Shoot fire! it just ran quick time to give Blaine the number 1 qualifying spot of the event. There wasn't anything wrong with that engine right up to the 300 mph mark, it was that extra RPM needed to go over the 300 mph mark that IMHO killed Blaine's engine and set off the chain of destruction that eventually took the life of NHRA Drag Racing's odds-on-favorite to win the 1996 Top Fuel Championship.

I say it's an unlimited class let them run as such, the ratio rule didn't keep these cars from going over 300 mph so get rid of it or look into other ways. John Force just went 300+ eight times in a row, Top Fuel cars are up to 316 mph now. All the top teams are running over 300 mph these days, the fans love it. The only thing this rule changed was the rate of high speed engine explosions and the cost of dealing with them. Forcing the Fuel Racers to over-rev their engines in order to win has not worked!

In closing, don't be sad about Blaine he was riding that wave of performance that just comes to a team and when it's there you ride baby ride! He had the Top Fuel field covered at every race, he was the man to beat. Blaine was on top of the Top Fuel points chase and had just become the number one qualifier once again. He was standing on top of the world, doing what he loved, he also died doing what he loved.

We should all be so fortunate.

Glenn Thompson (glenn@alldata.com) Automotive Technical Editor Alldata Corporation, Elk Grove, Ca.

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