Could a Front Engine Dragster Be Competitive Today?
By Jim Burke
I have been following the recent Internet discussions about the Rear Engine Dragsters versus Front Engine Dragsters. Where would they be today and would the FEDs be competitive? I have some unique experience of late that might help with the discussion.
Until March of last year, I owned half of a fabrication shop. Along with that shop was a 225" FED powered by a 498" KB with single plug Veney Billet heads. We used a Hi-Helix Full Retro 6-71 fueled with a single Hilborn -5 (28-GPM) fuel pump. Additionally, this car was direct drive with a reverser along with a 4-disc clutch. We used full-on top fuel slicks for traction through a 3.60 gear. By the way, this car can be seen in photographs and video on my old web site:
Was this a high powered combination? No I don't think so because I was still sorting it out and there was still plenty of horsepower in it. But I had enough track time to get some answers or at least some observations.
First, the question is: can it be competitive? The answer is yes in my opinion as long as you look at this in the same light as the funny car. There is absolutely no comparison between a modern FED and a modern RED. If you apply the principals of the funny car design including the chassis balance and forget the need to "have" a 300-inch chassis then you can be successful. One other thought is the capsule for the driver as pointed out by Fred Vosk and others. Such a capsule will be an absolute given the way these cars are run now.
I believe that the driver is more capable of actually reacting to his / her vehicle by being in the rear than by being half way up the car. Some people have talked about the ease of maintenance being a problem and yet the funny cars do it all the time so that is not the problem. To be able to run a modern FED will require the ability to think "outside the box" and read the car, not automatically figure it needs a certain way of doing things.
Just a point to mention was that in the very short time I had to work with this car, I was achieving almost 3 Gs on the starting line with plenty more to give.
Anyway, these are some thoughts and there are many more if there is interest.