The concept is definitely a strange one and the answer is not, contrary to popular belief, a clown car convention.
Funny car racing is a drag racing class that is popular in the U.S.
These cars are propped up on forward mounted engines and carbon fibre bodies that are balanced over the chassis.
Although it can look incredibly strange seeing these funny looking vehicles racing against each other, high speeds are reached and it is considered a very serious sport by those involved in the industry and by those who take part.
Some funny racing cars
The following is a list of the cars used in funny car racing:
- Dodge Charger
- Chevrolet Impala sedan
- Toyota Solara coupe
- Ford Mustang
There are, of course, many other vehicles used and the each one looks just as strange as those that came before it.
And The Ugly:
(on the subject of ugly cars – Click Here to check out some of the ugliest)
When was it started?
The first vehicles were put together around 1965 and were referred to as ‘funny’ cars because the back wheels were moved forward on the chassis to improve the weight transfer when the vehicle accelerates, which in turn causes traction on the back tyres.
The back tyres were much bigger than normal, making the cars look even sillier.
Funny vehicles produced years ago are still raced today under the NHRA Heritage Hot Rod Racing Series and certain events including the National Hot Rod Racing Series and the California Hot Rod Reunion.
Funny car racing rules and guidelines
To maintain uniformity as well as safety, there are many guidelines and rules for funny car racing.
The following are a few brief, summarised versions of some of these guidelines.
- Engines of funny cars must be V-8s and must not displace more than 500 cubic inches
- Only two valves per cylinder area allowed and the heads must be made from a solid block of billet aluminium and must be devoid of water jackets
- Superchargers can only be the basic roots type (consisting of a 480 mm rotor case width with a 286 mm breadth). The rotors are limited to a certain amount of helical twist
- Single camshafts are the only ones allowed
- Intake valves are usually made out of titanium of a 61 mm width of Inconel.
- Each car must have ballistic blankets to cover the supercharger to protect against explosion
- The fuel used on funny cars is usually a mixture of up to 90% nitromethane and 10% methanol
- Funny cars must have a fixed gear ratio and must have a reverse gear
- The wheelbase must be between 100 and 125 inches and the car must always maintain at least a 3 inch ground clearance rate
VIDEO: Steering wheel breaks off Funny Car:
…and here’s another cool video showing some drag racing crashes, car wheelies and a few explosions…
VIDEO: Car crashes, wheelies and explosions:
How powerful are funny cars?
The answer to this question varies widely depending on where you look.
The general average of the engine is about 8000 horse power. The torque produced by supercharged, nitromethane fuelled engines is usually around 9000 Nm.
The NHRA Top Fuel Funny Car Championships
This competition is incredibly popular and competitive in the funny car drag racing world. The NHRA Top Fuel Funny Car Championships have been going since 1974.
Some of the winners have been:
- Shirl Greer in 1974
- Don Prudhomme from 1975 to 1978
- Raymond Beadle from 1979 to1981
- Frank Hawley from 1982 to 1983
- Mark Oswald in 1984
- Kenny Bernstein from 1985 to 1988
- Bruce Larson in 1989
- John Force in 1990 and 1991
- Cruz Pedregon in 1992
- John Force again from1993 to 2002
- Tony Pedregon again in 2003
- John Force in 2004
- Gary Scelzi in 2005
- John Force in 2006
- Tony Pedregon in 2007
- Cruz Pedregon in 2008
- Robert Hight in 2009
- John Force in 2010
- Matt Hagan in 2011
What are the other professional classes?
Pro stock motorcycle