That's what I said: 11,000 horsepower

Dec. 22, 2015
You'll have to estimate how many HP the Pedregon Racing nitro funny car has—the team had pegged it at about 10,000, but latest calculations suggest it's more like 11,000. These are the extreme drag racers you see with fire blasting out of their exhaust pipes, and we got up close and personal with one.

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*

(Note: If video plays at low quality, try replaying)

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.

About the Author

Aaron Marsh

Before computerization had fully taken hold and automotive work took someone who speaks engine, Aaron grew up in Upstate New York taking cars apart and fixing and rewiring them, keeping more than a few great jalopies (classics) on the road that probably didn't deserve to be. He spent a decade inside the Beltway covering Congress and the intricacies of the health care system before a stint in local New England news, picking up awards for both pen and camera.

He wrote about you-name-it, from transportation and law and the courts to events of all kinds and telecommunications, and landed in trucking when he joined FleetOwner in July 2015. Long an editorial leader, he was a keeper of knowledge at FleetOwner ready to dive in on the technical and the topical inside and all-around trucking—and still turned a wrench or two. Or three. 

Aaron previously wrote for FleetOwner. 

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