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2000 Horses
By: Steve Adams. G0KVZ
As presented to the Vange Amateur Radio Society 26th Jan 2006

It is claimed that Drag Racing has its origins in the USA in the 1920's. During prohibition, the sellers of illegal alcohol, known as the 'Moonshine Boys' outran the authorities by making their standard looking runabout cars fast and powerful by hiding bigger and more highly tuned engines beneath their bonnets - the Hot Rod was born! After the end of prohibition the Hot Rodders continued, and all over America roads were being used to settle the 'mine is faster than yours argument'. Most towns had a main road running down the middle and junctions controlled by traffic lights, the Hot Rodders would race down the main drag from one set of lights to the other - the beginning of Drag Racing.
Through the intervening years, the abundance of massive engines, and the general excitement encouraged teenagers to embrace this hobby, and often 'drag-racing' would be used as a means to settle other disputes without the need to engage in physical violence, the final 'Trophy' being the prestige of winning the race, or ultimately claiming the 'Pink Slip' (The American equivalent of our Log-Book)
In 1948/9 Following the diligent efforts of Magazine Editor and Drag racing enthusiast Wally Parks, a National Speed Week took place on the salt flats of Bonnneville, Utah. Where racers were first offered the opportunity to race 'against the clock' - which was actually a stopwatch - coaxing their vehicles to accelerate quicker rather than to simply attain high top speeds..
The first drag strip, the Santa Ana Drags, began running on an airfield in Southern California in 1950. And quickly gained popularity among the spectators due to the revolutionary computerised speed clocks.
Drag Racing took off in the UK during the 1960's when, like in the USA, many of the old disused airstrips around the country were converted to drag strips.
Podington airfield, near the villages of Hinwick and Podington, was formerly a wartime airbase used by the USAAF during the Second World War. In 1966 permission was obtained to use the airfield as a drag racing complex, the of a mile main runway being used as the drag strip. The track was named Santa Pod after the Santa Ana strip in America, combined with the name of the local village of Podington.
Since then the name Santa Pod has become synonymous with the sport of Drag Racing in Europe. Today the raceway hosts events throughout the year including the FIA European Drag Racing Championships and the 'Run What You Brung' (RWYB) events where anyone with a valid driving licence can have a go and put their own vehicles and skills to the test.
Throughout the years, the engines and vehicles have evolved significantly through technological advances and access to more sophisticated engines, During the mid 1950's a V8 powered Drag racing car could be expected to reach a speed of 110 MPH after the 1/4 mile, various methods were employed to squeeze more power out of these Massive engines and by 1957, a top speed of 168MPH was achieved by Emery Cook, using a Nitromethane fuelled car.
This Progress has continued to this day and on Drag srtrips around the world it is not uncommon to see Engines that produce in excess of 2000 Horsepower, with some that are capable of over 6000 HP. Modern vehicles utilising a traditional Internal combustion engine would often be able to reach speeds of over 350 MPH. Of course, Safety is always a major consideration when designing these vehicles and this has encouraged designers to use rear engined cars, this has promoted great advances in Performance and safety, with todays Top Fuel dragsters being computer designed wonders with sleek profiles and wind tunnel-tested rear aerofoils that exert 5,000 pounds of downforce on the rear tyres with minimal aerodynamic drag.
Although the tiyetracks of dragracing history are clear, the origin of the term 'drag racing' is not. The theories are almost as many and varied as the machines that have populated its ranks for five decades. Explanations range from a simple challenge ("Drag your car out of the garage and race me!") to geographical locale (the "main drag" was a city's main street, often only wide enough to accommodate two vehicles) to the mechanical (to "drag" the gears meant to hold the transmission in gear loner than normal)
The latest development to be seen thrilling spectators on the drag strips is the 'Jet cars' - these vehicles resemble a standard bodied car, but lurking below the cosmetic body panels is a Jet engine complete with afterburner from a jet aeroplane. These brutes develop more than 5000 pounds of thrust and can propel the vehicle along the strip at over 270 MPH.
When you consider that modern drag racing vehicles develop over 20 times more power than a family saloon car, and often uses 15 Gallons to cover the mile this represents a return of around 60 Gallons/Mile ( 0.017MPG) no-one can deny that this is a truly spectacular and underestimated sport.
I have compiled some snippets of past Drag-racing events and documentaries that will illustrate Drag racing's highlights......
These notes have been compiled using Original material and excerpts from the following web resources:

Video resources:
Nitetime Fuel & Fire 10:30
Bakersfield 9:00
Top Fuel - The Kings 4:40
Night of Fire 3:40
Bulldog Bash 6:20

Modern Drag Racing facts:
A drag race is an acceleration contest from a standing start between two vehicles over a measured distance. The accepted standard for that distance is either a quarter-mile (1,320 feet) or an eighth-mile (660 feet). A drag racing event is a series of such two-vehicle, tournament-style eliminations. The losing driver in each race is eliminated, and the winning drivers progress until one driver remains.
These contests are started by means of an electronic device commonly called a Christmas Tree because of its multicolored starting lights. On each side of the Tree are seven lights: two small amber lights at the top of the fixture, followed in descending order by three larger LED lights, a green bulb, and a red bulb.
Two light beams cross the starting-line area and connect to trackside photocells, which are wired to the Christmas Tree and electronic timers in the control tower. When the front tires of a vehicle break the first light beam, called the prestage beam, the pre-stage light on the Christmas Tree indicates that the racer is approximately seven inches from the starting line.
When the racer rolls forward into the stage beam, the front tires are positioned exactly on the starting line and the stage bulb is lit on the Tree, which indicates that the vehicle is ready to race. When both vehicles are fully staged, the starter will activate the Tree, and each driver will focus on the three large amber lights on his or her side of the Tree.
Depending on the type of racing, all three large amber lights will flash simultaneously, followed four-tenths of a second later by the green light (called a Pro Tree), or the three bulbs will flash consecutively five-tenths of a second apart, followed five-tenths later by the green light (called a Sportsman, or full, Tree).
Two Separate performances are monitored for each run: elapsed time and speed. Upon leaving the staging beams, each vehicle activates an elapsed-time clock, which is stopped when that vehicle reaches the finish line. The start-to-finish clocking is the vehicle's elapsed time (e.t.), which serves to measure performance. Speed is measured in a 66-foot "speed trap" that ends at the finish line. Each lane is timed independently.
The first vehicle across the finish line wins, unless, in applicable categories, it runs quicker than its dial-in or index. A racer also may be disqualified for leaving the starting line too soon, leaving the lane boundary (either by crossing the centerline, touching the guardwall or guardrail, or striking a track fixture such as the photocells), failing to stage, or failing a post-run inspection (in NHRA class racing, vehicles usually are weighed and their fuel checked after each run, and a complete engine teardown is done after an event victory).