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Home Car Culture NHRA studies electrification on the drag strip

NHRA studies electrification on the drag strip

First of ‘numerous meetings’ on the subject planned for Gatornationals

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“From the vision that Wally Parks had when he founded NHRA in 1951 to our current ‘Speed for All’ campaign, NHRA has always strived to provide a welcoming environment not just for competitors from all walks of life, but also to accommodate a very wide variety of vehicles, and that includes electric cars and motorcycles,” Ned Walliser, NHRA vice president-competition, noted in a recent report on NHRA.com.

“It’s certainly no secret that electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular with consumers, and the technology associated with them continues to move forward at a rapid pace,” Walliser continued. “At NHRA, we are eager to keep pace with the latest developments in EV technology.”

With that in mind, the drag racing sanctioning body will host the “first of numerous proposed meetings” on the subject of electric-vehicle drag racing during the Gatornationals, scheduled for March 12-14 in Gainesville, Florida.

“When it comes to drag racing electric vehicles, we want NHRA to be the leader, not a follower,” Walliser said. 

Among the topics to be discussed at those meetings are safety and fire suppression and prevention.

“An accident involving an electric vehicle typically demands a different response than you might have with traditional gas, methanol or even nitromethane-powered vehicles,” noted Tim White, NHRA director of engineering. “There are also some concerns regarding the treatment and disposal of a damaged or potentially damaged battery. We’ve already seen progress in these areas, but as always, improving safety is an ongoing and never-ending process.”

“There are many potential benefits associated with expanding NHRA’s footprint in regard to EV technology,” Walliser added. “That being said, we certainly have no intentions of abandoning our current platform, which has proven to be extremely popular with racers and fans alike. 

“Fans come to NHRA events to see everything from 300-mph Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars to classic American muscle cars, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. We do need to always keep our eyes focused on the future, and electric vehicles will very much be a part of that.”

The current NHRA record for an electric-powered dragster is 7.52 seconds at 201.07 mph set in 2020 at Tucson Dragway by Steve Huff. That run bettered the former mark of 189 mph set by Don “Big Daddy” Garlits in his electric Swamp Rat 38.

Chevrolet’s electric-powered COPO Camaro had done a 9-second run and Ford’s CJ1400 Cobra Jet has been in the 8s and reached into the 160 mph category in exhibition runs at NHRA events.

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

15 COMMENTS

  1. I will never attend a drag race involving electric cars. No interest in cars or dragsters that are silent. Half the fun and excitement are that big engine roaring. It’s ashame how the liberal culture is changing everything and in my opinion not to the good. Now they are going to destroy racing culture.

  2. Have not seen electric drag cars in person yet. I would think that anybody who had covid and lost their taste and smell could imagine what electric drag cars are like. It might look like the same thing, but it sure doesn’t sound like it!
    All kidding aside, I understand that this technology is coming, like it or not. The electric “tuners” will need a place to play.
    How about going autonomous and then it would be like a giant slot car set!

  3. The sport of drag racing evolved from the street with Hot-Roding/ Muscle cars and then came the strips for safety reasons, Thanks to Wally Parks. The thrill for the spectator is simply, The Sound, The Smell and The Competition between competitors and The Victory. Electric race cars will NEVER replicate what we have witnessed for more than a century. Electrics Are Boring!!!

    There is NO NEED FOR NHRA to go there as THAT WOULD KILL OUR FAVORITE SPORT/PASTIME.

  4. I like the way NHRA is going about it. Welcome the new technology but don’t abandon the old. Our gov’t should be watching. If the new technology is better, the next generation will embrace it.

    Electric cars and hybrids were built over 100 years ago and did not succeed. Maybe they will now or maybe they won’t. Only time will make that decision.

    As for me, I’ll still just go sit in my car and listen to my 454 idle for a few minutes until the weather gets a little nicer!

  5. No interest whatsoever in EV’s, racing or otherwise. What would be the point in Drag Racing, who has the biggest batteries ?? The whole concept is just ridiculous. It flies in the face of everything Drag Racing stands for.

  6. I knew the haters would have a field day with this one. In my opinion this does not ruin drag racing in any way. It’s simply an evolution of the sport of motor racing. Electric vehicles are being raced in many other forms of racing around the world with great success.
    The essence of motor racing is the competition of building faster car than the next guy. Another goal of motor racing should be to advance the automobile industry. As much as many of us may not want to admit it, EV’s do seem to be the way forward. Let the EV builders show us what is possible.

  7. I want to expand on previous comment. Having had the pleasure of being a Top Ten sponsor of Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ for 17 years I have seen almost everything and met almost everyone in drag racing. I had unlimited access on track thanks to the Napp family (love you guys!) and I wouldn’t trade the experience I had for anything, especially electric cars. Sorry. I welcome technology and the important development that results from research, but the ground shaking from Nitro cars will NEVER be supplanted by electricity!
    (Not even if John Force drives one!)

  8. When NHRA starts running electric vehicles, I will switch to watching something else. That will be a sad day for drag racing fans. So much for the tuners having an impact on car performance, just whoever has the biggest battery. Who cares about battery parts lying on the track-I like to see car parts when they push the limits.

  9. “They” want to. “They” live in the big, ugly, cramped and crowded cities and they think everyone else should too. Thus no need for cars. Got ity ? Personally, I HATE city living.Been there, done that. The elites can stay in their glass houses but they can’t tell all of us what to do. Never !

  10. What the hell are you guys thinking ? What’s next solar panels for wings ?
    Let the tree huggers work on this project and get back to nitro and , you owe it to us fans that literally pay your wages !

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