Hooniverse Asks: Have you ever been to an NHRA event?


11,000 horsepower. Zero to 100 mph takes less than a second. A Top Fuel dragster is one of the few vehicles on this planet where the word awesome actually applies. You will be in awe. Hell, I’m in awe of the fact that the supercharge alone requires 1,000 horsepower to operate at max boost. You’ve never driven a vehicle that makes enough power to even work the supercharger on a Top Fuel dragster. And this circus makes its way to Pomona, California this weekend… and I’m going today.
I’ve never been to an NHRA event. The nitromethane is calling to me. Yes, I know I need to bring earplugs. Yes, I know it will blow me away. Yes, I can’t wait.
So… have any of you been to an NHRA race? Tell us all about it below.

15 Comments

  1. I’ve never been to an NHRA event, but I have been to races at an (at the time) NHRA member track. There were no points or championships or anything on the line, but there was something for everyone. “Grudge match” started the day with an eclectic assortment of vehicles. That was followed by the funny cars and the dragsters. As the sun set, the wheelstanders made their exhibition runs, and the jet dragsters were the finale.

  2. 1987, Brainerd, I believe it was then called the Northstar Nationals (but damn, that was 31 years ago!). I was 11 years old, and to this day, still one of the greatest weekends I’ve ever experienced.
    Truly like nothing else. The smells, the sounds, the deep feeling in your whole body when those big nitro burning Keith Black hemis where at full song. Pit passes were incredible – I can remember watching Joe Amato’s crew in hyper-speed overdrive trying to get his car put back together and Joe trying to sign autographs with one hand as the other was stuck in a bag of ice (I’m assuming he burnt it). We watched most of the action at the finish line – and it was quite an eye-opener. Two guys had running bets on EVERY race – even sportsman races. Saw my first black-out drunk and my first boobs!
    I couldn’t believe that I was seeing my heroes that I watched on tv right there in front of me – Big Daddy, Shirley Muldowney, Darryl Gwynn pre-accident, Butch Leal, The Professor, Eddie Hill, Kenny Bernstein, they were all there.
    I haven’t been back since (guess I haven’t devoted the time or money) but man, it was a great, great time.

  3. I used to hit 1 or 2 national events each year, and maybe a regional. I haven’t been since about 2010, though.
    Qualifying is more interesting to me than the actual race. Doubly so if it’s after dark, and there are more entrants than ladder rungs.
    The pro pits tend to get pretty crowded with fans. Also with big budget teams that have huge crews, with each crew member trying to navigate a minivan or golf cart back to the trailer(s). The Alcohol pits are a lot less congested and more likely to put you to work if you volunteer.

    1. “…people watch.” Indeed. My son ( he’s a grown man ) when we went to the Gator Nationals a few years ago noticed all of the African- American families that were there. It was great. And then we noticed the women. Oh, my. There were so many 11s on a scale of 0-10 we gave up…

  4. Heartland Park Summer Nationals 2005. I was there courtesy of Nitto Tire and had an all access pass so basically I could walk down to the staging lanes and was allowed to stand extremely close to the Top Fuel cars. There are three things you take away from the event. 1. Television does nothing to show the true speed at which these cars cover the track distance. 2. The sound is not only deafening, the sound pressure can be felt through the air in your lungs and all over your body. 3. The driver’s, the teams, and the people at the events are AWESOME. I watched John Force sign autographs with both hands. I watch the rear tires on a top fuel car fold and distort to the point that I couldn’t believe they held together. I watched teams take a car that had just made a 300 mph pass and tear it completely down in minutes and start to rebuild. I stood a few feet from alcohol cars that were running in the 200’s as they took off just a few feet away. I watched flames shoot out of the top fuel cars as the sun went down a bit and couldn’t believe my eyes. I could go on and on about that day from almost 15 years ago. Trust me, if you’re an automotive enthusiast, no matter what you’re into about cars, these events will blow your mind.

  5. No but my dad took my brother and me to an IHRA event in the early 80’s.
    Thunder Valley, of course.
    Good lord that was loud! We loved it!

  6. The first time I went “Wow that was fast!” “That was just the burnout, wait till they race” That was the late 70s when they only ran about 6 or 7 seconds. I go about every 5 years. Watching them rebuild a engine between rounds is pretty amazing as well.

  7. Diesel Truck Nationals at Raceway Park in NJ in 1989. Sort of a parallel universe although the specially built race trucks were stunningly fast and some the bigger rigs almost lifted a wheel from chassis twist at the line.

  8. Closest I’ve got is when the owner of the strip we were running a club day at did a pass in his jet dragster. Seeing the afterburner pop in and out from about 15 feet away was quite an experience.

  9. The top fuel cars are just astounding. By far the loudest thing I have ever been around. You feel the sound waves through your torso.

  10. Lions and Irwindale as a kid, OCIR as a teen, Pomona most recently. Still love the sights and sounds but 1000 ft is not a drag race. With faster cars and shorter tracks I’ve lost my frame of reference.

  11. Yep. Gator Nationals. My son ( he’s a grown man) and I went. Grandstands. Funny cars hit it. And I thought I was going to die. Seriously. I’ve had my share of the bumpy roads and gusty winds of life, but nothing prepared me for that. The stands shook, and earplugs? Ha! The sound reverberates in your chest. It. Was. Glorious.

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