Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fire-Spewing Rockets Overload the Senses

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fire-Spewing Rockets Overload the Senses

Article excerpt

Shelly Anderson says she feels as if a 16-pound bowling ball has been plopped onto her chest.

Gary Scelzi says he is plastered so deeply into his seat that he perches atop a towel to keep his tailbone from bruising.

Whit Bazemore says his shoulders are chronically sore, the result of skin-tight harnesses that hold him in place as he is thrust back and up. The irrepressible John Force says it's like "blasting off in the space shuttle . . . Of course, I've never been in the space shuttle." The sensation of releasing the clutch, jumping on the throttle and sending a 5,500-horsepower Top Fuel dragster or Funny Car hurtling down a quarter-mile strip of asphalt is not comparable to any other in sports. At the instant of acceleration, it's Armageddon on four wheels. Inside the cockpit and outside. To stand within a few feet of these machines when they ignite the nitromethane in their fuel tanks and launch their quicksilver 1,320-foot journey is a sensory experience that boggles the mind - not to mention loosens fillings and clears sinuses. * The Sound: The engine crackles and pops angrily while it idles. When its thirst for action is slaked with a healthy gulp of nitro, the decibel level soars dramatically and the grating noise slices through the air like a scythe. A novice grimaces as it overwhelms. * The Sight: When the driver torques the engine, the huge rear tires expand vertically as the spinning rubber searches for traction. Smoke caused by the intense friction pours 10 to 15 feet high, filling the air to the rear of the machine. As the nitro kicks in and full power is reached, bolts of fire shoot from the header pipes on each side of the car. A land rocket has begun its violent voyage. * The Feel: As the car quickly gathers speed and thunders past - it will reach 100 mph in 0.9 seconds, about 250 at "half-track" (one-eighth of a mile) and perhaps 300 or more before it's shut down - a growing growling, rumble flows outward from the track, quaking the ground as well as all observers in the immediate area. Those raucous, irritating radio commercials of yesteryear were accurate: It is, indeed, fire-breathing, earth-shaking action. …

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