Top Methanol Drag Racing is one class down from Top Fuel. The basic difference is that we use Methanol (CH3OH)instead of Nitromethanol, as a fuel. This means that an Methanol powered car only has about 3000 Horsepower to 'play with'.
For the second year in Europe the two types of car will be racing in their respective classes instead of against each other for the FIA Championships.
In the British and Swedish Championships, the cars still compete against each other. A simple formula is used to even out the performance of the dragsters (TMDs) and funny cars (TMFCs), a weight break system, the TMFCs are allowed more cubic inches per pound weight than the TMDs, mainly because they are not as aerodynamic. All cars have to have a minimum weight of 1700 pounds. Then the following formula is used:
We are currently running cars down as low as 5.724 seconds for the quarter mile, but that figure is always subject to (downwards) change. The slower times in Europe compared to those in the USA have four main causes: One we don't get anything like the track time over here, there are about 8 races a year and very few teams can get to them all. Two, we don't (as yet) have many high quality tracks that can provide the traction many of our cars need, although the promoters are working hard to rectify this. Three, we don't (yet) have the kind of sponsorship deals available in the USA (any interested parties who would like further details, please e-mail me) to finance all-new state of the art engine and chassis setups. Lastly four, when almost all our parts have to be ordered from the USA, cost a lot more (when you include transatlantic shipping charges and assorted high taxes, including sales tax at 17.5%) and often take a very long time to arrive, we are perhaps a bit more conservative with our engine tuning in order to try and avoid breaking parts that are VERY hard to replace, and often don't arrive in time for the next race.
Because we don't get such major sponsorship deals, Top Methanol is the point at which most people reach their financial ceiling. While many might harbour dreams of switching to Nitro, the budget makes this impossible.
Another problem is that of geography. It's not always easy to get to a race meeting. For example, a team from Finland that wants to race in England must set out from home on the Tuesday, drive over a thousand miles, get on a ferry for 24 hours across the North Sea and then drive another 5 hours to the track. The ferry costs over £1000 GBP (approx $1625 USD), plus the diesel for the truck. Anyone who wants to go to Scandinavia to race has the same problem, but in reverse.
For a team wanting to travel to central Europe to race, at Hockenheim in Germany for example, the same problems apply. Both the English and Scandinavians have to pay to get across stretches of water, and this is expensive. A close examination of the results from past championships and the use of an atlas will show that teams tend to attend the events that they can most easily get to. Those who have made repeated long journeys have either got a good sponsor, deep pockets, or the race promoter has contributed to travel expenses.
The racers with the toughest deal are the Swiss. Drag Racing, along with almost every other form of motorsport, is banned in Switzerland. They have to leave the country to race their cars !