NHRA Top Fuel racers are a special breed. They essentially strap some of the most powerful engines in the world to the end of a metal rod and clear a quarter-mile track in less than 4 seconds. They do all of this out in the open air, as NHRA regulations prohibited the use of canopies since they pose the risk of giving a competitive edge.
For about four years, Don Schumacher Racing has been working on a canopy designed to help prevent the issue of flying debris striking a driver at 300 mph. Last year, Tony Schumacher ran in preseason testing with said canopy and the NHRA took notice.
After a series of test runs, the findings were that the advantages gained from the more aerodynamic cockpit were nearly non-existent. This all leads to today when the NHRA has finally green lighted its drivers to start using these new cockpits. However, there is a stipulation, as any driver using an enclosed cockpit must put a 3/4-inch wicker bill on the downstream end of the cockpit to offset the aero advantage.
The canopy will makes its in-season debut this weekend in the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, covering the head of none other than the spearhead of this program, Tony Schumacher’s No. 5 U.S. Army dragster
This is definitely a good jump toward making drag racing, top fuel in particular, a much safer sport for its drivers and we can see nearly every team changing over to this format in the near future.