Features

How to drive a Top Fuel dragsterMonday, February 21, 2011
Posted by: T.J. Zizzo

I am looking forward to beginning our eighth season with Old World Industries (PEAK Motor Oil and Antifreeze, Herculiner Do-It-Yourself bedliners, PEAK electronics, and the rest of their great products). It will be the first time we kick a season off at the Winternationals.

I thought this list would be appropriate. I wrote it many years back. As I say routine is everything! I wrote this for myself, but it came in handy about six years ago when my dad was obtaining his license. Written procedures are always a positive. He studied them and earned his license in a limited number of runs.

I went through these procedures and edited a few things for your viewing pleasure. I can’t give away everything, and I certainly can’t tell you all the great things we get to talk about over the radios.

This is how to drive a Top Fuel dragster. Please don’t study this too well — I am easily replaced!

  • Pull car into staging lanes
  • Walk around front of car
  • Give left side of engine a look
  • Check wing
  • Check wheelie bar
  • Check throttle stop
  • Give right side of engine a look
  • I am confident everything is good
  • Walk to back of tow vehicle
  • Get everything out of bag and lay it out
  • Put on jacket do not zip all the way up
  • Put in mouth guard
  • Put in ear pieces
  • Put on helmet sock
  • Adjust sock eye openings in mirror/window
  • Have Dad tuck in head sock and zip up jacket
  • Put on helmet
  • Have Dad put on neck collar
  • Have Dad put on Hybrid X
  • Put on gloves
  • Walk to left side of car
  • Tap on wing
  • Walk back to roll cage
  • Jump in race car (approx. 10 minutes before run)
  • Dad and Joe strap me in
  • Pull tight shoulder straps
  • Check arm restraint lengths
  • Check radio
  • Make sure I’m comfortable
  • Make sure Dad asks if everything is good
  • Reply…. Mint!
  • Clear mind
  • Focus on run in real time
  • Ask about track conditions
  • Focus on run in real time
  • Pull to water box
  • Check all switches off
  • Check fuel is closed (lever is all the way forward)
  • Push clutch in
  • Grab brake handle
  • Mike Kern (crew chief) spins engine over
  • Take a deep breath and relax
  • Flip all switches on
  • Push clutch in, pull brake, and put hand on fuel lever
  • Mike spins engine over
  • Engine starts on gasoline for a few seconds
  • Check oil pressure and make sure the engine is purring like a kitten
  • Pull the fuel lever back
  • Push the fuel lever forward
  • Trim to where Mike wants me to, usually 60 psi
  • Look at TS (Tony Smith)
  • Look for his sign that it is okay to move forward
  • Check fuel pressure
  • Roll forward a little
  • Align car with him
  • Roll through water
  • TS gives the high sign
  • Let go of brake
  • Take foot of clutch pedal
  • Stab the throttle
  • Burnout
  • Burnout length dependent on Mike. If it was up to me I would burnout to the finish line
  • Push clutch in
  • Grab brake handle
  • Pump once
  • Pull to slow
  • Push reverser lever into reverse
  • Trim fuel to 60 psi
  • Glance at tach and oil pressure
  • Let go of brake
  • Let off clutch slowly
  • Feather clutch in and out
  • Back up straight in center of track
  • Look down track at finish line
  • Slow when I see TS
  • Push in clutch
  • Gently pull hand brake
  • Follow his direction
  • Push clutch in
  • Pull hand brake
  • Stop
  • Pull reverser lever back to put into forward
  • Let brake out slowly
  • Feather clutch if needed
  • Push clutch and pull brake
  • Stop
  • Look down track
  • Look at TS
  • Pull forward at TS request
  • Proceed slowly
  • Feather clutch and brake
  • Straighten car out
  • Stop at TS request
  • Push in clutch and grab brake gently (just enough to hold car back)
  • Glance at tach and oil pressure
  • Look down track, at TS, and at Tree
  • Wait for throttle stop
  • Make sure I’m straight
  • Pull down visor
  • TS signals to pull forward
  • Take hand off brake move forward slowly
  • Feather clutch if necessary
  • Push in clutch
  • Gently pull brake
  • TS gives OK sign
  • Let brake out slowly
  • Feather clutch if necessary
  • Creep into pre stage position
  • Set pre-stage bulb
  • Push in clutch
  • Grab brake gently
  • When both cars are pre-staged,
  • Pull fuel lever back to 100 psi.
  • Take foot off clutch
  • Place left foot on foot rest
  • Hold brake just enough to hold car back
  • Slowly release brake
  • Stage car the same every time
  • Focus on ambers
  • Anticipate FLASH
  • See FLASH
  • Release brake and hammer down on throttle pedal
  • Keep hand on brake handle
  • Keep car straight and in groove
  • Use three senses: Look, listen, and feel
  • At half-track move my hand to steering wheel
  • Place finger on parachute button
  • Concentrate on keeping car straight
  • Concentrate on finish line
  • Pop parachute button at 900 ft.
  • Take foot off throttle at finish line
  • Put hand on brake handle
  • Feel parachute hit
  • Let car slow
  • Engine will idle down
  • It may shut itself off
  • Hit kill switches
  • Make turn off
  • Listen for comments from crew
  • Unlatch seat belts
  • Unplug helmet from radio
  • Climb out of car
  • Get to work on car and start process all over again…….OH YEAH!!!!!!

I hope you got something out of those 143 procedures!

See you at the Winternationals.

Try to keep up with me on: ZizzoRacing.com, Twitter.com/ZizzoRacing, and Facebook.com/ZizzoRacing and Facebook.com/TJZizzo. On Twitter, you can follow me at @TJZizzo and @ZizzoRacing. Videos of Zizzo Racing can be found at YouTube.com/TJZizzo.

 
..
TwitterFacebook