The Importance of Motor Oil in NHRA Drag Racing
NOVEMBER 9, 2015
Motor oil is never more important than when a 10,000 horsepower engine shoots down the NHRA track at 300 miles per hour in fewer than four seconds.
If you’ve never been to an NHRA event, it’s definitely something to add to your bucket list. You are absolutely overwhelmed with stimuli from the moment you step foot on the track grounds. Mechanical monsters seem to scream from a distance at the gate. It only gets louder as you move closer.
Even with the proper equipment, your ears ring from the sudden noise of 10,000 horsepower as it launches from a stand still down the track or when one cranks up in the pits surrounded by fans. The ground shakes. Metallic bleachers vibrate underneath the spectators. The spare change leftover from the concourse corn dog vendor rattles together in your pocket with every pass. And let’s not forget about the smell of the noxious nitro methane as it permeates the air of the pit areas, sending fans scrambling to escape its haze. You truly have to witness it for yourself in order to begin to comprehend the complete sensory overload of such an experience.
Those things made us fall in love with the pioneering ways of Don “Big Daddy” Garlits and the dozens of Swamp Rat builds. It gave us the battles between Prudhomme and McEwen on the strip and their respective Snake and Mongoose Hot Wheels toys. Because of it, we witnessed the amazing career of Eddie Hill. And now, it’s brought us back to the sport we love with Don Schumacher Racing. In March of 2015, we announced a new partnership with with Don Schumacher Racing, one of the NHRA’s most storied and decorated outfits.
Since making the switch to Pennzoil®, the performance of the DSR Funny Cars and Top Fuel dragsters has completely taken off to the tune of a World Championship, a slew of records, and 26 total wins in the 2015 season. According to Rahn Tobler, Crew Chief of the NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car piloted by Ron Capps, using motor oil with a base oil made from natural gas rather than one made from crude oil gives the team an edge on the competition.
“Anytime you have a supercharger combined with nitro methane you have a very big explosion in each cylinder. [The oil] lets us start very clean,” explained Tobler. “It’s probably a tremendous advantage for us.”
On the Top Fuel side, Antron Brown celebrated his second Top Fuel World Championship with a season that included a sweep of the first three events of the Countdown to the Championship and an NHRA Top Fuel National Elapsed Time Record with a 3.68 second run in August. Teammate and eight-time NHRA Champion Tony Schumacher was his closest contender in the final leg towards the championship, solidifying a top two finish for DSR in the division.
In total, DSR Top Fuel teams walked away with 11 combined Wallys between Brown (7), Schumacher (3), and Spencer Massey (1) in 2015.
In Funny Car, four of the top five drivers are with Don Schumacher Racing. “Fast” Jack Beckman has really lived up to his nickname in 2015. With seven final round wins, he’s a mere 36 points away from a title heading into the final weekend in Pomona. Not only did he break the NHRA Funny Car National Elapsed Time Record in July with a 3.921 second pass at 323.43 mph, he went on to break his own record twice over in October, finally landing in the books at 3.897 seconds. But Beckman isn’t satisfied.
“Now, you’ve got to challenge yourself to take it to the next level,” exclaimed Beckman. “At the end of the day, I want to be the guy holding the trophy on Sunday. Being able to set those records and have the consistent performance really gives you a better shot at doing that each race weekend.”
The success hasn’t gone unnoticed by Mike Knudsen either, Assistant Crew Chief on Matt Hagan’s Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.
“We were seeing some issues on our wear protection and some of our friction protection with previous oils,” said Knudsen. “We weren’t quite getting the film and the oil in there between the rods and the bearings that we would like. We were seeing more and more wear. They were getting thinner and thinner as we measured them so we decided to make the switch because of the PurePlus® Technology. Now our bearings look the best that they have in years, so we are going to continue down that path and hopefully win more races.”
Defending Funny Car World Champion Matt Hagan got in the record-breaking party too with a National Speed Record at 330.470 mph in September as well as adding four final round victories. We gave him a flashy new ride for Dallas that’s reminiscent of the Nuclear Banana. Add the veteran fan favorites Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. with two wins per, and you have a team of Funny Cars that hoisted a total of 15 Wallys for DSR.
We’ve been under the hood of champions before. We know how powerful these cars can be. It’s been a great year to remember in our return to the straight-line speed of drag racing. We can’t wait to see what many, many more may hold in the future.