The insanity of drag racing a Funny Car
Ron Capps was born to race. He was still in his mother's belly when attending his first drag race. The now 53 year old man had his first go in a Top Fuel drag racer in 1995. But his real destiny was to race Funny Cars.
Yes, Funny Cars is the official name of the nitromethane powered vehicles that accelerate to over 320 mph in about four seconds.
“Somebody decided they would make a regular car, put a dragster engine in it, and somehow make that car go faster," as Capps puts it.
An altered shape, a lowered, engine bearing front and a second rear wheel well made the car look… funny. Capps said, some announcer just termed it a funny car. So that is where the name comes from.
A standard Top Fuel dragster is quite stable and flexible due to its long and narrow nose. But what is it like to drive a Funny Car? Ron Capps explains it like this: “There’s not one run I’ve made, and I’ve been doing this 25 years, that it ever went straight or I barely moved the wheel. […] You’re hanging on for dear life and it’s so out of control you don’t know what’s gonna happen." After all hell breaks loose for four seconds, the parachute slows the car down so immediately that the driver needs to strap his head to the seat to protect the neck from negative acceleration tugging at him with 8 to 9 G.
This year it is the 14th season for Capps driving for the Don Schumacher Racing team. Since 2008, his work tool has been the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger. Experiencing higher G-forces than astronauts when launching into space, he catapulted his vehicles to 60 wins of the NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series so far.
When he shoots off the start line, the highly flammable fumes make a spectacular escape from the exhaust. What sounds a bit like showing off is not at all exaggerated, when Capps says, "The first thing that comes up when you Google my name is huge fireball explosions. My son and his friends think it’s really cool when his dad’s on fire.”
Well... this is Ron Capps' job - driving an exploding car.
Watch the explosion of Capps' Funny Car at the NHRA Winternationals in 2014: