That's what I said: 11,000 horsepower

So, Tony Pedregon's job is to sit on top of an earthquake.

"There's no dynamometer you can measure its horsepower on," Pedregon says of Pedregon Racing's Toyota Camry nitro funny car. And that means you'll have to estimate/calculate how many HP the machine has, which the team had pegged at about 10,000, but the latest calculations suggest is more like 11,000.

*VIDEO: Up close and personal*

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These are the extreme drag racers you see with fire blasting out of their exhaust pipes and parachutes to stop them. Pedregon says that some years ago, they found out you could measure the nearby impact of the tires pushing off at the start with a seismograph, the device they use to measure earthquakes.

Pedregon Racing did a custom paint job on the Camry for display at the Rush Truck Centers Tech Skills Rodeo last week in San Antonio, TX. The team brought their full-service American Racing transport/trailer to show off at the event, and there was talk of starting up the drag racer on the first day of the tech skills competition.

They pushed and towed the funny car outside the conference hotel to fire it up. When they started it, I thought it was running — yeah, okay, it's a grunting engine, that's great — but that's before you open up that throttle and pour some nitromethane down its gullet.

When that happened, there was definitely a violent in-rush of air for what seemed like quite a radius. The funny car's chassis actually lifted up and "flew" a bit. It caught me completely off guard.

"It sort of makes your eyes burn and water, but it's a good kind of hurt," Pedregon said afterward. "Really! People love it.

"We start these cars up at the races and we have an awning; we have to pit the car under that awning. Sometimes we'll have a breezy day like this — it'll blow it in and out.

"But our fans just gather up behind the car, and some of them scatter. And then there's some of them there with their eyes watering. They love that stuff.

"Makes you wonder," he joked.

 

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