Gone In 3-1/2 Seconds

Article & photos by Michael ONeill

Every year NHRA brings two Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national

events to our area. The first is The New England Nationals held in Epping,

NH, and the second is The Summer Nationals, held at the legendary

Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ. This year, I had the privilege of covering

both of these events and would like to share some of my experiences and

images with the readers of FTM.

When most people think about NHRA drag racing they think about “the big

three” classes of racing: Top Fuel Dragster, Funny Car and Pro Stock.

After all, these are the Pro classes which get all of the attention on

broadcast television. The nitro methane Top Fuel and Funny Car races are

something that need to be experienced live to understand. 300 feet from

the track, in the spectator seats, these 10,000+ HP machines emit the

loudest sound you’ve ever heard, while making the grandstands tremble as

if an earthquake has erupted. I can’t even begin to tell you what it feels like

trackside, being 15 feet from these monsters as they launch from the starting line. To say it is physically

punishing, is putting it mildly. These cars accelerate from zero to almost 340MPH in about 3-1/2 seconds!

Television coverage does no justice to these races. You’ve got to witness

this in person. At the New England Nationals the fans were treated to the appearance of

the Top Fuel Harleys. Think about this for a second: The riders are

straddling a 1,000 HP V-Twin nitro methane bomb that covers the quarter

mile from a standing start in about six seconds. Top speeds are in excess

of 200 MPH! No safety harnesses. No roll cage. Riding a motorcycle! The

Pro Stock Motorcycle class was part of The Summer Nationals. These

bikes produce a “mere” 500-600 HP using racing fuel. They cover the

track in just over six seconds and are poised to break the 200 MPH barrier

soon. (Hector Arana, Jr. went 199.88 MPH on his Harley-Davidson at the

Charlotte Nationals). Harley-Davidson is the dominating Pro Stock Motorcycle in 2017, a class formerly led by super-tuned foreign brands. At the Indianapolis Nationals the finalists racing for the trophy were both Harleys. Go USA!

Get yourself out to one of these events next year. There are three full days

of racing at every meet, including the sportsman classes which are some

of the best races to witness. Both of these tracks are extremely biker-friendly with reserved parking just for motorcycles.