There is no form of motorsport more visceral than that of Top Fuel. These Nitro-powered, fire-breathing instruments of speed produce power figures with five digits! With guestimates placing their horsepower somewhere in the ballpark of 11,000 and torque figures at a staggering 12,800 lb-ft, these cars rocket from a dead stop to 330+mph in just over three and a half seconds. The raw power is staggering, and fully wrapping the human mind around it all really means is next to impossible, but stand a few feet away from one of these cars when the lights go green, and the numbers don’t matter one bit. You can feel every bit of power as the senses experience an all-out assault. Vision goes blurry, lungs burn as waves of nitro fumes are inhaled, ears bleed from nearly 150 decibels of sheer chaos, and every bit of it is felt in the chest of anyone who bears witness. It is both painful and glorious at the same time.
We attended the NHRA season opener at the Lucas Oil Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California. There, Top Fuel veteran Clay Millican was kind enough to give us an inside look at his dragster and the entire operation supporting it. Spending the day in Clay’s pit allowed us to witness at the massive effort it takes to get this car ready for a race. On a typical winning race day, a Top Fuel crew will rebuild the 500 cubic-inch engine three times with roughly 40 minutes to tear it completely down and reassemble it between rounds. It is a herculean task that takes a dedicated team of skilled individuals and a laundry list of spare parts. Unsurprisingly, the raw power that these engines are capable of producing is hard on parts, making the sights and sounds of a fueler’s pit nearly as exciting as the runs on the drag strip.
So take a trip with us inside the pit of six time Top Fuel world Chamption Clay Millican, driver of the Parts Plus Strutmaster Top Fuel Dragster as he stomps on that loud pedal and rockets down the drag strip before the crew tears into his engine after the run.
Clay Millican’s Crew:
- Crew Chief – Mike Kloeber
- Crew Chief – Jim Oberhofer
- Car Chief – Jack Wyatt
- Engineering – Nick Hines
- Engines – Daniel Mayorquin
- Superchargers – Nathan Sullivan
- Clutch Assistant – Gus Gowder
- Clutch Specialist – Kenny Carson
- Cylinder Head Specialist – Chris Menapace