NHRA studies electrification on the drag strip

Credit: Original article published by Classic Cars Journal.

“From the vision that Wally Parks had when he founded NHRA in 1951 to our current ‘Speed for All’ campaign, NHRA has always strived to provide a welcoming environment not just for competitors from all walks of life, but also to accommodate a very wide variety of vehicles, and that includes electric cars and motorcycles,” Ned Walliser, NHRA vice president-competition, noted in a recent report on NHRA.com.

“It’s certainly no secret that electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular with consumers, and the technology associated with them continues to move forward at a rapid pace,” Walliser continued. “At NHRA, we are eager to keep pace with the latest developments in EV technology.”

With that in mind, the drag racing sanctioning body will host the “first of numerous proposed meetings” on the subject of electric-vehicle drag racing during the Gatornationals, scheduled for March 12-14 in Gainesville, Florida.

“When it comes to drag racing electric vehicles, we want NHRA to be the leader, not a follower,” Walliser said. 

Among the topics to be discussed at those meetings are safety and fire suppression and prevention.

“An accident involving an electric vehicle typically demands a different response than you might have with traditional gas, methanol or even nitromethane-powered vehicles,” noted Tim White, NHRA director of engineering. “There are also some concerns regarding the treatment and disposal of a damaged or potentially damaged battery. We’ve already seen progress in these areas, but as always, improving safety is an ongoing and never-ending process.”

“There are many potential benefits associated with expanding NHRA’s footprint in regard to EV technology,” Walliser added. “That being said, we certainly have no intentions of abandoning our current platform, which has proven to be extremely popular with racers and fans alike. 

“Fans come to NHRA events to see everything from 300-mph Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars to classic American muscle cars, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. We do need to always keep our eyes focused on the future, and electric vehicles will very much be a part of that.”

The current NHRA record for an electric-powered dragster is 7.52 seconds at 201.07 mph set in 2020 at Tucson Dragway by Steve Huff. That run bettered the former mark of 189 mph set by Don “Big Daddy” Garlits in his electric Swamp Rat 38.

Chevrolet’s electric-powered COPO Camaro had done a 9-second run and Ford’s CJ1400 Cobra Jet has been in the 8s and reached into the 160 mph category in exhibition runs at NHRA events.

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