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From the Dragstrip to the Driveway: NHRA Top Fuel Dragsters, Funny Cars and Your Car

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This feature has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. #LasVegasNHRA #PennzoilPerformance #CollectiveBias

When I was a kid, I was aware of NHRA Top Fuel dragsters and funny cars. At the time, I had some assorted Hot Wheels versions of them and they were played with quite often. While I had the general idea of what they did (go fast in a straight line!), I had no idea what kind of mechanics were involved, and even as an adult that got into racing, that world sort of escaped me until recently. I’ve written about the transition from the track to the street before, but I’d not thought much about the drag racing side of things until I met up with the crew from Pennzoil Performance to attend the recent NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. There are things that can apply to you, and I’m sharing that knowledge here, along with some facts about NHRA Top Fuel racing!

Unlike most motorsports events where pit access is a separate fee, at an NHRA Top Fuel event, every pass is a pit pass. Families can walk right in and get an up-close look at the workings of their favorite teams and drivers. For this event, we were guests of Don Schumacher Racing (a leader in the field), paying particular attention to the bright yellow Pennzoil branded dragster (aka “The Nuclear Banana”) being piloted by driver Leah Pritchett. Leah brings some rock and roll attitude to the track, even adopting the Metallica lyric “give me fuel give me fire” as an unofficial mantra. Adjacent to her stall in the pits was Funny Car driver Matt Hagan and his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T powered by Pennzoil. 

Leah Pritchett and her Pennzoil NHRA Top Fuel Dragster

In many motorsports, the drivers usually don’t get hands-on with the set-up of their car, but with Top Fuel they often do. You’ll find that drivers like Pritchett are right there with their crew, gassing up the cars, and getting detailed updates on the status of their rides. It’s not unlike the thousands of drivers who go hands-on in their own driveways, constantly tweaking their vehicles for peak performance, always looking for new ways to improve. When it comes to motor oil, the DSR team runs a modified version of Pennzoil Platinum® with PurePlus® Technology – a full synthetic derived from natural gas. This is the same oil that I’ve been running in our cars here at Rock Father HQ, opting for the High Mileage formula in our rides.

Pennzoil Dragster

My girls have always called Funny Cars “silly cars,” and while that’s cute, there’s nothing silly about wanting great performance. For an NHRA team, that means a complete rebuild of their engine after each 4-second run. Their 11,000 horsepower engines are nearly destroyed after each run (and sometimes they are) at a cost of around $14,000 a pop. The clutch plates get so hot that they weld together, and the fumes from the fuel are so strong that gas masks are involved for certain members of the crew. A team can completely tear-down and rebuild an engine in about 30 minutes. I’ve spent longer than that changing headlight bulbs, but they’re ready for another 330mph run!

In a world where every little bit of better performance counts toward scoring a win, using Pennzoil Platinum® with PurePlus® Technology Full Synthetic motor oil in these dragsters and funny cars brings the same benefits that we all look for at home  – cleaner pistons, better fuel economy, horsepower protection, unsurpassed wear protection and excellent performance in extreme temperatures. Out in the high desert during the NHRA Toyota Nationals, the track temperature was topping out at nearly 115°!

Pennzoil full synthetics

To find the right oil for you, check out the selector at Pennzoil.com. You’ll find exactly the right version of Pennzoil Platinum for your ride! My soon-to-be-classic 2005 Scion xB gets it on every oil change…

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