For some of us, drag racing is about big-blocks and carburetors-and not much else. But while that's the quintessential speed recipe, these days there are countless proven ways to motivate your car in a hurry. That's why we get such a thrill out of the NMCA Hot Rod Power Festival series, where the racers do more with internal combustion than Otto ever imagined. We left smoggy L.A. on May 19 to spend a weekend at Memphis Motorsports Park (only a half-hour from Graceland), where we inhaled the sweet smell of race gas and watched the tire-smoking, wheel-standing madness.
We saw turbocharged, supercharged, nitrous'd, and normally aspirated cars duke it out on the two-lane blacktop in classes ranging from 14-second EFI cars to 6-second Outlaw Pro Street monsters. Motivated by the fumes perhaps, we decided to investigate the nitty gritty details of the fuel systems that power these outrageous machines-especially after learning that Tony Christian's Outlaw Pro Street Firebird gulps down 1 quart of gas before blazing through the traps at over 200 mph. To examine the range of drag race fuel systems employed in the NMCA, we picked out five cars running various types of induction: a turbocharged '98 Camaro; a supercharged '91 Mustang; a nitrous'd Pro-Mod Firebird; a normally aspirated but EFI'd '69 Chevelle; and a normally aspirated, dual-carbureted '64 Plymouth. We checked out every component from the tank to the intake manifold to see how these race-prepped fuel delivery systems get the job done.
To sum things up, drag racing has really become a 21st-century sport. Aside from the old-school '64 Hemi Savoy, we found a laptop powered up on the passenger seat of every racecar we examined. Less fuel system tuning is done with wrenches as more and more racers tweak fuel maps on PCs after data-logging each pass. As far as hardware, we found that most racers have systems that are simple, bulletproof, and big. Huge lines, lake-draining pumps, and atmosphere-sucking induction systems rule the NMCA. Read on as these racers share their engine-feeding secrets.
The Turbo Car: LS What?
Sure, Rodney Lambert's Super Street '98 Camaro SS looks pretty mean with its steamroller slicks and cowl hood. So it'll never pass for showroom-stock, but would you believe Rodney's propelled the red rocket to a time-warping best of 7.95 at 183 mph? The secret's in the well-tuned hair dryer that feeds the 375-inch Chevy (the LS1's long gone) up to 25 psi of compressed atmosphere. With help from Precision Turbo, the mill made 1,647 hp last season, and Rodney's looking to better his e.t. this season after putting the car on a 300-pound diet and tweaking the chassis setup.
Driver/Owner: Rodney Lambert
Hometown: Falls Church, VA
Car: '98 Chevy Camaro SS
NMCA race class: Super Street
Best e.t.: 7.95 @ 183 mphMotor: 375-inch Chevrolet
Power adder: Precision Turbo turbocharger providing 25-psi max boost
Induction system: Speed-Pro digital fuel injection, 90mm throttle-body, GMPP Bow-Tie single-plane intake
Injectors: Bosch 160 lb/hr
Fuel pump: Weldon 2035, 180 gph @ 80 psi
Regulator: Weldon, set to 45 psi static pressure plus 1 psi per pound of boost
Lines: AN-10 to two-way splitter, -8 to fuel rails, -6 return to tank
Tank: 3-gallon fuel cell (second cell is an ice cooler)
Fuel: Sunoco Red