Two weeks ago, I got an up close and personal taste of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in Indy. The 65th annual Chevrolet Performance US Nationals got me hooked. The speed of these cars are one thing of beauty to witness, but so is the power and fury that these beasts of machines produce on each pass.
The adrenaline is strong. Your heart is already pounding of pure anticipation of what you’re eyes are about to witness. But, the punch to your chest and the deafness ringing through your ears when the cars take off, mixed with the smell of nitro is enough to bring a grown man to his knees.
Seeing race cars eclipse 300+ mph is one of the most thrilling things to witness. The teams can take apart a motor and the entire body of the car but have it put back together and on the start line in a matter of minutes. The drivers mash the throttle with their right foot and make it from the start to finish in less than 4 seconds at speeds well over 300 mph.
Oh yeah, they do this in competition too. Monday’s final eliminations that weekend was like the intensity of a big tournament. In fact, it kind of is. They seed the top 16 drivers in order of the ET, lowest to highest and just like the NCAA Tournament, away they go.
1 vs. 16, 8 vs. 9, 5 vs. 12, 4 vs. 13, etc. You get upsets. You get Cinderella’s. You get the raw emotion that we get to see each March. We saw tears of joy flowing for the winners that weekend.
Two weeks later, we get to see it again, this time for playoffs!
The Countdown to the championship started this weekend in Maple Grove and Sunday’s final eliminations mix speed, power and the uniqueness of a tournament like format. That’s a storyline in itself, but so is this – record speeds.
The quickest Indy Car qualifying lap is 241.428 mph. The quickest NASCAR qualifying lap ever is 212.809 mph.
On Saturday, Brittany Force set the quickest ET time in NHRA history at 3.623 (331.61 mph). On Friday, Ron Capps set the quickest speed in Maple Grove history (339.28 mph) and second fastest speed ever in NHRA history.
339.28 mph! That’s nearly 100 (!!) mph quicker than the fastest Indy Car lap ever recorded. It’s almost 127 mph quicker than the quickest NASCAR lap ever.
Think about that.
These NHRA cars are traveling from start to finish in less than four seconds and from that start line to the final pass and they’re going over 330 mph in that short amount of time.
That speed should be appreciated. So should this – we have girl power in NHRA. For Indy Car and NASCAR, they keep searching for the next great female driver. For NHRA, they have it right now.
There’s four top series in NHRA (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle), three of them saw women earn top qualifiers this weekend.
Eric Enders (5.480 ET) and Angelle Sampey (6.76) are the top qualifiers in the Pro Stock divisions. For Enders, she has yet to win this season but the two-time Pro Stock champion does have two straight races of runner-ups heading into the first race of the playoffs. Sampey, won the top qualifier award for Indy and took another green hat now in Pennsylvania, her 51st of her career.
Force, is P1 in Top Fuel (3.623 ET) for her second straight No. 1 qualifier too. P2? Leah Pritchett (3.673 ET).
It’s girl power this weekend as that and speed records are something we have to take notice of.
Oh yeah, did I mention that the playoffs start too?