The Lucas Oil Canadian National Open hits the track at Mission Raceway this weekend.
Jet Equipment Canada and TDN Constructors group present one of the most popular and fastest growing classes in all of motorsports: Nitro Funny Car. These fiberglass replicas have close to 4000 horsepower underneath the body and burn fuel at a rate of 10 bath showers turned on simultaneously. Burning five gallons in less than six seconds, these cars reach a speed of 250 mph in 5.8 seconds down the quarter-mile.
Nitromethane (nitro for short) is the fuel they burn, and if you compare it to everyday gasoline in an engine you automatically have 400 per cent more horsepower with just filling up the tank with this special fuel. It costs $20 per gallon as well. The front four rows of cars of a NASCAR race have the combined horsepower of one nitro powered motor.
There are five Canadians and five American teams entered for the class this weekend. Tim Boychuk from Edmonton had won the event the last three years and he comes to Mission looking for a four-peat. He has a new crew chief this year so it won’t be as easy as just showing up.
Two or three other Canadian teams have the same goal and have the power to do it. Chilliwack’s Tim “The IceMan” Nemeth is on the verge of his first big win and Nathan Sitko from Edmonton wants the same. His family is three generations strong in the sport, with grandfather George racing back in the early 1960s. Jay Mageau ran his career best two weeks ago in Edmonton, and the track at Mission produces more HP that Edmonton’s because of the elevation.
American drivers who have won here before include Kris Krabill in Hall of Fame racer Bucky Austin’s “NW Hitter” Hemi powered Arrow. Krabill is a hired gun and he won in Sacramento four weeks ago.
Another famous NW driver from the past is Twig Zeigler. He has local driver Jim Obalek in the driver’s seat and with the 40 year veteran calling the set-up, that car has to be a favourite as well. The qualifying is on Saturday evening and finishes off under the lights, so it is an experience in itself to see flames come out of the headers and to hear the raw horsepower they make.
Then, in case that is not enough sensory overload, there are 20 more funny cars running methanol instead of nitro. These cars run one second slower at just over 200 mph. All have wild paint jobs and body styles from the 50’s through the 80’s (cars that look like cars should in my opinion). You also get to see six-second 220 mph full bodied cars that are not a lot different looking then everyday drivers. The driver gets in a door on the left side and then hangs on for dear life.
The above groups make up approximately 40-50 of the cars at the track. Well, there are another 200 competing in 10 different classes (close to $40,000,000 worth of racing machinery will be on display). As a fan you can walk right up in the pit area and talk to the drivers, owners, and crew while they are getting ready for the next run.
Racing and test starts on Friday and the fans can get in to watch that day for only $15. Saturday the racing starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 10:30 p.m. The all-day ticket is only $25, and the price is the same for Sunday’s final eliminations. All kids under 12 get in free with a paid adult ticket. The kids will love a relatively new class in the sport, called junior dragster racing. Youngsters age 8-17 race down the track at speeds approaching 80 mph in an exact 1/3 scale replica of their big brother, a Top Fuel Dragster.
For more information, visit www.missionraceway.com.
– Word and photo courtesy Dean Murdoch, speedzonemagazine.com