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Weather Blog: Dragsters In Baytown Means Spring Is Here

by Mario Gomez

Posted on April 11, 2010 at 6:29 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 29 at 9:08 PM

If you want to see the fastest men on four wheels hurry on over to Baytown for the NHRA - O'Reilly Spring Nationals. The finals are on Sunday afternoon. For the last couple of days the qualifying matches have yielded the following results on the quarter mile race track:

Top Fuel

1. Antron Brown         3.803 sec      317.64mph

2. Larry Dixon             3.808 sec      320.74mph

3. Steve Torrence     3.839 sec       313.80mph

Antron Brown leads the pack by only .005 sec. With only a few fractions of second separating the top three racers, could weather help decide the finish ?  I recently interviewed Antron and asked him how weather effects the performance of his top fuel dragster. "Here in Houston it's very critical cause your at sea level. . . So you have allot of oxygen in the air . . .the molecules are more condensed. . .these cars will make a ton of horsepower. Antron will custom blend  his own nitro-methane fuel based on atmospheric conditions.  Rob Wendland the teams crew chief will make last minute adjustments based on wind and the moisture content of the air. Sunny or overcast skies can also make a difference in the track conditions. A hot track could make for a wild, slippery ride. The sun heats up the residual rubber and oil and makes it very dangerous at times. The crews are forced to adjust suspensions and tires to compensate.

The typical top fuel dragster mechanic now has an altimeter, barometer, wind gage and hygrometer in his tool box next to his favorite wrench. A few valuable fractions of a second can be obtained by adjusting the dragsters wings and super charger. On race day the teams crew chief Rob Wendland says the weather is a deciding factor on how much compression and nitro fuel the engine gets.  Chances are the drivers of these top fuel dragsters will know just as much about their cars as they do about the weather.