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Drag Races in Englishtown

Photographer: CJ Gunther


Top Fuel, Funny Car, Super Gas, Pro Mod, Super Stock and Pro Stock – the world’s fastest drag racers compete in these categories at the Toyota Summernationals at the dragway Old Bridge Township Raceway in Englishtown, New Jersey, USA every year. It is one of the original seven National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) events.


A drag race is a competition of acceleration from a standing start between two cars or motorbikes with the loser of each race being eliminated until only one competitor remains. Super Gas is one of the most difficult classes in which the driver travel a distance of ¼ mile (400 meters) in no less than 9.90 seconds.


Competitors are as diverse as the vehicles: young, old, professional, non-professional, men, women and all ethnic backgrounds. The non-pro sponsored drivers are called 'Sportsman' rather than ‘amateurs’ due to the level of professionalism and cost of the sport, since drag racing is an expensive hobby.


Before each race in the Funny Car division, the engines are assembled in less than 75 minutes. After this assembly the most loyal and zealous of fans stand in the pits, ready to inhale the fumes of the nitromethane. Most cannot stay for long as the fumes burn their eyes and lungs, but others stand strong, with the deafening sound and noxious smoke.


The professionals drive Funny Cars that run on a fuel mixture called nitromethane, the result of a chemical reaction between nitric acid and propane. Funny Cars are as loud as jet engines with flames shooting out from the exhaust tubes while the sound compresses the chest of those near the starting line.


The races last less than six seconds with the drivers accelerating the 8000 horsepower engines from 0 to 300 mph (490 kmph) in under four seconds. The cars are then brought back to the pit to have the engine stripped and reassembled before being moved back to the starting line for the next race.


Drag racing is unique among motorsports because fans have direct access to the drivers and the teams, watching closely highly skilled mechanics "twirl the iron," and get to talk to the drivers who sign autographs in the pits.


The NHRA was founded in 1951 and boasts that it is the world’s largest auto racing organization. There are several circuits throughout the country where hobbyists race old 1970's and 1980s Funny Cars from the 'Golden Age.’ The 1968-70's Camaros remain the most popular cars seen in drag racing.