Sprint Car 101: Motors and Fuel

Tony Stewart

(WOMR file photo)

As many of my readers know, I am not just interested in NASCAR racing, but many forms of auto racing.  Therein lies my reasoning for writing the next few articles about sprint car racing, Sprint Car 101!

For those who have never witnessed a sprint car race, it  is a form of racing that must be seen to be appreciated!  The previous statement is a gross understatement!  Imagine, if you will, 24 screaming 800 plus horsepower V8’s, open-wheel race cars, sliding sideways on a clay surface, only inches apart at well over 100 MPH!  Dude, that is racing!

As you can see from the picture above, there are two wings that produce a massive amount of downforce, which allows the sprinters to take corners at incredible speeds.  Those rumbling methanol-powered engines shake the earth as they thrill the crowds all across the country.

Don’t get me wrong, NASCAR racing is exciting, but how often do you see NASCAR race cars pulling wheelies as they accelerate off of the corners, at well over 100 MPH?  The answer is zero!  These bad boys, however, will do just that on a tacky racing surface, day in and day out!

Just as a side note, several of today’s NASCAR stars, such as Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, and Kasey Kahne, just to name a few, acquired their racing skills from racing sprint cars early in their career.

WARNING: This form of racing is extremely contagious and addictive!

Sprint Car Motors

If you want to get a true feeling of what power feels like, stand in the middle of the starting grid of 24 sprint cars.  You can literally feel the horsepower in the air.  Rumbling inside the sprint chassis rails, the motor shakes the ground and fills the air with the sweet aroma of their “go juice”, methanol.  The power plant is positioned only a very few inches from their knees.  Those motors power the cars to speeds that can exceed 150 MPH on the straight-aways! These motors are purposely built for exactly this type of racing. Engine sizes and configurations vary, depending on the rules of the sanctioning body that governs the various race tracks.  The two sizes of motors that are usually found in sprint cars are, 360 cubic inch and 410 cubic inch motors.

Fuel

Methanol, also know as alcohol, is the fuel of choice in sprint car racing.  Methanol is used in sprint cars for a number of reasons, one being safety.  Methanol is less volatile than gasoline, greatly reducing the risk of explosion or flash fire.  Additionally, if methanol were to catch fire, you con put it out with water! Methanol also burns at a cooler temperature than gas, which makes the engine run at a cooler temperature.

The next installment will deal with the sprint car chassis!

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

 

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