Race Weekend Central

Nitro Shots: Tire Wrinkle Is Sexy

Going back one more time to the idea that NHRA drag racing is such a visual sport, it lends itself particularly well to the slow motion video. In truth, there are some absolutely astounding things going on within the three or four seconds it takes a Nitro car to launch and get 1,000 feet down the track. To put three or four seconds in perspective, it probably took you three or four seconds just to read the first sentence of this article. In that amount of time, a 10,000-horsepower beast left the starting line and completed a run.

Where slow motion video and photography comes into the equation is capturing some of the incredible things that go on during the even shorter fractions of seconds that make up the individual components of that run. This video made the rounds on social media a little earlier this week.

[fbvideo link=”https://www.facebook.com/NHRA/videos/10153433098546410/” width=”500″ height=”400″ onlyvideo=”1″]

Nitro cars launch off the starting line in just fractions of a second but this is what is going on with the tires when they do. In this case, slow motion helps to give a better idea of how much power is being put down when the driver applies the pedal. Sometimes seeing things in slo mo also gives a better idea of how much engineering goes into all the parts of the cars just so they will stay together for four seconds. Those tires take much more abuse than what is visible with the naked eye and it gives a sense of appreciation for how much they can withstand.

What’s News?

NHRA today announced the promotion of Peter Clifford, formerly the organization’s long-time executive vice president and general manager, to president. Clifford replaces Tom Compton, who announced his retirement after 15 years on the job.

“Peter Clifford will be an outstanding president of the NHRA,” said Dallas Gardner, chairman of the NHRA board of directors. “Peter’s faithful and effective service to all constituents of the NHRA family will ensure a spectacular new era for everyone who loves our sport, and he brings a passion for the NHRA that is unmistakable.”

Clifford has been with the NHRA since 1997 and during his time there has been involved in just about every aspect of the sport from strategic planning and growth initiatives to overseeing NHRA owned racetracks, relationships with national event facilities and member tracks, publications, information technology, national event business, ticketing, customer service, and human resources. His background prior to coming to the NHRA was in finance, business, and economics.

Driver Profile: Antron Brown

Category: Top Fuel
Hometown: Chesterfield, N.J.
Date of birth: March 1, 1976
2015 car: Matco Tools dragster
Crew chief: Brian Corradi/Mark Oswald
Team Owner: Don Schumacher

Career Highlights
Career wins/runner-up finishes: 50/41 (34/24 Top Fuel and 16/17 Pro Stock Motorcycle)
Best points finish: 1st in 2012
Career best ET: 3.701 seconds, Reading, 2012
Career best speed: 328.78, Reading, 2012

2014 – Posted six wins; made eight final rounds; three-time No. 1 qualifier; made seventh straight Countdown appearance and won a race during the playoff for the sixth year in a row.

2012 – Won first Mello Yello world championship, became first African-American NHRA champion and first to win a major U.S. autor racing championship; six victories in 11 final round appearances; three No. 1 qualifiers; set national record E.T. for Top Fuel at Reading.

2009 – Swept the Western Swing races and earned category leading six wins; seven No. 1 qualifiers.

2008 – First year in Top Fuel and scored two wins and three No. 1 qualifiers; first driver in NHRA history to win races in Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle.

2001 – Finished career-best second in Pro Stock motorcycle standings; six time No. 1 qualifier; three wins.

1998 – Made first career start in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Some things most people don’t know about Antron: Antron likes to go fast no matter what the competition. In 1997, he ran fast enough in the 100-meter dash to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials. Drag racing is a family tradition for Antron, just like it is for many of the competitors in the NHRA. His father and uncle also raced. The next generation has also gotten involved. Antron has three children, daughter Arianna and sons Anson and Adler, and all three are currently competing in the Jr. Drag Racing League. Antron serves as truck driver, mechanic, and crew chief for his children, and in spite of the craziness he and his wife experience getting three dragsters and three children ready and to the line on time, he loves the family atmosphere of the Jr. league races. Antron is also one of the nicest people in the garage and loves to meet fans.

That’s Just Crazy!

Brown tells us about a particularly strange case of mistaken identity he frequently encountered at the racetrack when he was mistaken for another racer in this week’s crazy things video.

NHRA 101

Most people automatically think of the quarter-mile as the standard distance for a drag race, but this is not the case for all the racers of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle do run the standard distance of 1320 feet, which is a quarter mile. Funny Cars and Top Fuel cars, however, run a race distance of 1,000 feet instead. Why is it shorter? Safety. The decision to shorten the distance was made in 2008 after the death of Funny Car driver Scott Kalitta at Englishtown. The thinking behind the move is that the cars were just getting too fast and the speeds too high. The shorter run keeps the speeds from getting as high and also allows for more shutdown room. It has, however, been a point of contention for purists who don’t like the departure from the traditional distance.

Number of the Week: 3.701

This is not only Brown’s best ever E.T., but it is also the national record for Top Fuel. Fellow Top Fuel driver Shawn Langdon posted a 3.700 at Pomona in February of this year, but because he was unable to post a second run within 1% of that run during the same race weekend to back up the run, Brown’s record still stands.

Where to Watch

What’s a holiday weekend without some fast cars to make it complete? In between the hot dogs and fireworks, don’t forget to catch the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals this Sunday live!

QualifyingFriday, November 10, 6:30 PM ETFS1 (Live)
QualifyingSaturday, November 11, 6:00 PM ETFS1 (Live)
EliminationsSunday, November 12, 4:00 PM ETFS1 (Live)

About the author

A writer for Frontstretch since 2002, and editor since 2006, Toni heads up the NHRA coverage for the site. She’s responsible for post-race coverage in the weekly Pace Laps multi-series round-up along with the weekly Nitro Shots column featuring news and features from the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. An award-winning former writer for the Presbyterian Church, Toni works in web design and freelances with writing in North Carolina.

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