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Old 10-26-2011, 11:22 AM
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Dragster Design Questions

I have been googling around and I haven't found much on Dragster Desgin just C02 Dragster design.
I have been watching old NHRA races on Youtube, mainly the 1986 season (I chose that one because Garlits broke the 270 MPH barrier) and I noticed back then many of the Top Fuel Dragsters looked more unique and original.
Don Garlits ran the streamlined design, a few more guys ran different sizes, different lengths, Gary Ormbsby even ran these design that looked like an Indy Car!
Now is the reason the design started changing in the 90s because they found that the current design works the best, so everyone uses it or is it NHRA rules that require all dragsters to look the same?
I really love Don Garlits Swamp Rat 30 and 31. As well as 32 and 34 have a bit of streamline influence.

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Old 10-26-2011, 12:16 PM
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Didn't Amato have a digger with a fighter plane canopy grafted on?

Look at the competitive Nostalgia Nitro Funnycar guys; a lot of them run a longer chassis than the original cars, and extend the body work to cover this...giving the car a bit of a pinocchio nose in order to gain an edge. Its frustrating.

I think a lot of this all has to do with cubic dollars; by making incremental changes to the existing design, its more cost effective to go back a step, than if you designed a new car on a clean sheet and you didnt qualify for 3 weeks.
Sponsors don't like it when you're on the trailer, and the smaller sponsors who might be interested can't afford the 'Prince Abu Dhabi' budget
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Old 10-26-2011, 02:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MXrider13
I have been googling around and I haven't found much on Dragster Desgin just C02 Dragster design.
I have been watching old NHRA races on Youtube, mainly the 1986 season (I chose that one because Garlits broke the 270 MPH barrier) and I noticed back then many of the Top Fuel Dragsters looked more unique and original.
Don Garlits ran the streamlined design, a few more guys ran different sizes, different lengths, Gary Ormbsby even ran these design that looked like an Indy Car!
Now is the reason the design started changing in the 90s because they found that the current design works the best, so everyone uses it or is it NHRA rules that require all dragsters to look the same?
I really love Don Garlits Swamp Rat 30 and 31. As well as 32 and 34 have a bit of streamline influence.
The following are my opinions.

Form follows function in top fuel dragster racing. After Garlits debuted his version of a rear engine dragster and was successful w/it (and his wasn't the first, despite what you may have heard to the contrary. And DAMN was it butt fugly), the writing was on the wall. It took less than a season for the front engined diggers to be obsolete. And once the rear wing was added, the design was essentially set for the next ~40 years.

There have been small front tires (that had the bad habit of becoming detached from the wheels), fully enclosed bodies/cockpits, streamlining of differing designs- these are things that are still legal to do and I'd expect there to be another resurgence of the oft-tried, but never-really-successful "streamliner" that has made occasional appearances since the beginning of the rail dragster.

Without googling it, some of the rules governing Top Fuel are the engine displacement, nitro/alky ratio, rear tire, gear ratio, blower type and over drive, minimum weight, maximum length, along w/a host of safety-related matters. In any event, when it's distilled down to its essence, what you see today is the culmination of the available technology tempered by the rule book.

I have no doubt that w/o rules these 'cars' would be doing 400 MPH in the quarter. I remember a "scientist" who obviously wasn't a racer, saying when the top speed was around 180 MPH, that there was no physical way a dragster could achieve 200 MPH in the quarter mile. A bunch of blather about coefficients of friction and time to distance and such. Kinda funny thinking back on it today...

Last edited by cobalt327; 10-26-2011 at 02:39 PM.
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Old 10-26-2011, 02:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AutoGear
Didn't Amato have a digger with a fighter plane canopy grafted on?

Look at the competitive Nostalgia Nitro Funnycar guys; a lot of them run a longer chassis than the original cars, and extend the body work to cover this...giving the car a bit of a pinocchio nose in order to gain an edge. Its frustrating.

I think a lot of this all has to do with cubic dollars; by making incremental changes to the existing design, its more cost effective to go back a step, than if you designed a new car on a clean sheet and you didnt qualify for 3 weeks.
Sponsors don't like it when you're on the trailer, and the smaller sponsors who might be interested can't afford the 'Prince Abu Dhabi' budget
I think Amato may have had that dragster, sadly he doesn't have a lot of pictures of his Dragsters on his website or Facebook just one from the 90s.

So like most things it all comes down to money. Hopefully maybe one guy in the NHRA may stand out and come up with a really unique design.
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Old 10-26-2011, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cobalt327
The following are my opinions.

Form follows function in top fuel dragster racing. After Garlits debuted his version of a rear engine dragster and was successful w/it (and his wasn't the first, despite what you may have heard to the contrary. And DAMN was it butt fugly), the writing was on the wall. It took less than a season for the front engined diggers to be obsolete. And once the rear wing was added, the design was essentially set for the next ~40 years.

There have been small front tires (that had the bad habit of becoming detached from the wheels), fully enclosed bodies/cockpits, streamlining of differing designs- these are things that are still legal to do and I'd expect there to be another resurgence of the oft-tried, but never-really-successful "streamliner" that has made occasional appearances since the beginning of the rail dragster.

Without googling it, some of the rules governing Top Fuel are the engine displacement, nitro/alky ratio, rear tire, gear ratio, blower type and over drive, minimum weight, maximum length, along w/a host of safety-related matters. In any event, when it's distilled down to its essence, what you see today is the culmination of the available technology tempered by the rule book.

I have no doubt that w/o rules these 'cars' would be doing 400 MPH in the quarter. I remember a "scientist" who obviously wasn't a racer, saying when the top speed was around 180 MPH, that there was no physical way a dragster could achieve 200 MPH in the quarter mile. A bunch of blather about coefficients of friction and time to distance and such. Kinda funny thinking back on it today...
So its really the rules that killed off the unique and experimental design.

One question though, if there wasn't some of the strict rules what things would NHRA teams be doing to reach 400MPH? Would it be Screw Blowers, different gearing, and maybe 572 engines?
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Old 10-26-2011, 04:29 PM
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Why are dragsters the shape they are, when a teardrop is supposed to be the most aerodynamic shape? Look at the cross section of an airplane wing. Fat in front and thin towards the rear. I don't know, just some food for thought.
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Old 10-26-2011, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MXrider13
So its really the rules that killed off the unique and experimental design.

One question though, if there wasn't some of the strict rules what things would NHRA teams be doing to reach 400MPH? Would it be Screw Blowers, different gearing, and maybe 572 engines?
Kinda a "chicken or the egg" question, but I believe many of the rules in existence today are to keep the cars from being too fast due to the efficiency of the rear engine design, and that the rear engine design was more or less inevitable when you consider where you need the weight to be in order to get traction. Then w/the advent of wrinkle wall slicks that gained diameter- and in effect acting as a "high gear" along w/the downforce created by the front and rear wings- AND the design of the chassis that allowed it to become an integral part of the equation, then you get what we have now.

To go 400 mph would take traction and HP. I'm pretty sure I could have added the wing's dimensions to the rules above, but if the wings could be any size/type, the chassis could be lengthened and the tire size were unlimited and they could make the power they can make now (which is rarely if ever maxed out due to traction limitations) under the extra load the tires and wings would impart, they'd have the 400. Gears could enter into it as well, as you mentioned.

If not, either the engine would need to be made larger and/or a more efficient blower, a bigger blower OD ratio, and 99% pop should get 'er done.
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Old 10-26-2011, 04:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RPM
Why are dragsters the shape they are, when a teardrop is supposed to be the most aerodynamic shape? Look at the cross section of an airplane wing. Fat in front and thin towards the rear. I don't know, just some food for thought.
IMO..They need to build the car aerodynamic but at the same time create down force in the right places. Back in the 90's they were having problems with blow overs.
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Old 10-26-2011, 05:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RPM
Why are dragsters the shape they are, when a teardrop is supposed to be the most aerodynamic shape? Look at the cross section of an airplane wing. Fat in front and thin towards the rear. I don't know, just some food for thought.
Ivo said that, he had a streamliner pointy at the front fat in back,
in the lights it tried to turn around..............like a teardrop.

Didīnt Gary Ormsby have the full streamliner, lasted just a few races ?
Tony Namcy had a beautiful streamliner, let Dante Duce drive it on tour in the UK...................it went home in a box.
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Old 10-26-2011, 05:29 PM
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"Tear drop shapes"....

In drag racing it is about E.T. Streamlining is nice... but not at the price of adding weight. I doesn't matter how low the drag is because they would trade off the lesser ability of the tires to accelerate a heavier weight... and are only at peak speeds for the last few tens of a second.

Also there is the fact that the bulky items like engine, slicks, and driver need to be near the rear wheels. Not exactly the best setup for a shape that is larger in front.

It's not streamlining that matters... it's light weight, downforce, and at the most, maybe the consideration of minimal frontal area.
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Old 10-26-2011, 05:43 PM
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The tires (rears in the case of T/F) are far and away the biggest aero drag. They do use some rather rudimentary fairings to get the air over/around the slicks, though. Tires can add a lot of drag to more "normally" shaped vehicles.

I wonder how much forward "thrust" T/F zoomies make at full chat?
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Old 10-26-2011, 05:50 PM
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Now one thing I want to know
Don Garlits says on his website on his Swamp Rat 34 page that "Swamp Rat 34 is the most modern, aerodynamic Top Fuel dragster ever built, even to this day"
He also later states that if he had a bigger budget he could of got it into the 340MPH range.
Anyone know anything about this? I know Don Garlits is the king of drag racing so I am sure he knows what designs work and which don't.

You can read it here
http://garlits.com/swamprat34.htm
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Old 10-26-2011, 05:53 PM
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I wonder what would result from a movable element wing set-up in combination w/ground effects built into the underside that would take over for much of the downforce that the wings provide, allowing the wings to go to a 'flatter' position once under way enough for the ground effects to take over for the wings so as to not cause so much drag along w/the downforce the wings provide? The vehicle would need to be wider, though.

Or a "blown diffuser" deal like F1 to evacuate the air from the ground effects tunnel?
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Old 10-27-2011, 12:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cobalt327
I wonder how much forward "thrust" T/F zoomies make at full chat?
Didīnt they give credit to zoomies for the first 200mph run, they add downforce/traction ?

And those big tires out back throw a lot of air forward that the car has to go through.
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Old 10-27-2011, 12:55 AM
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We need Techinspector to throw his 2 cents in, he is NHRA savvy and has been around these cars for years.

The wings probably throw a lot of aerodynamics out the window, downfoce on the front to keep the back wing from making the car blow over, both have to cancel one another to some extreme. The front wing provides the downforce to keep the front from lifting, the back wing is pushing down on the back for traction, this can cause the front to lift. Wings aren't aerodynamic at all, they provide the downforce for traction. Lose the wing, lose the traction. 300 inches of frame coming to a narrow point in front is probably as good as it's going to get for aerodynamics.
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