Funny Car is a type of drag racing vehicle and a specific racing class in organized drag racing. In the United States, the other professional drag racing classes are Top Fuel, Pro Modified, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Bike. Funny cars are characterized by having tilt-up fiberglass or carbon fiber automotive bodies over a custom fabricated chassis, giving them an appearance vaguely approximating manufacturers' showroom models. They also have forward-mounted engines (engine placed in front of the driver), as opposed to dragsters which (currently) place the engine behind the driver.
Funny car bodies typically reflect the models of newly available cars in the time period that the funny car was built. For example, in the 1970s, then current models such as the Chevrolet Vega or Plymouth Barracuda were often represented as funny cars, and the bodies represented the Big Three of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. Currently, three manufacturers are represented in Funny Car -- Ford's Mustang, Fiat S.p.A.'s Dodge Charger, and Toyota's Camry -- are represented in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). Worldwide, however, many different body styles are used. These "fake" body shells are not just cosmetic; they serve an important aerodynamic purpose.
Drag racing is a competition in which specially prepared automobiles or motorcycles compete, usually two at a time, to be first to cross a set finish line. The race follows a straight course from a standing start over a measured distance, most commonly ¼ mile (1,320 ft (402 m)), with a shorter 1,000 ft (305 m) for some Top Fuel dragsters and funny cars, while 660 ft (201 m) (1/8 mi) is also popular in some circles. Electronic timing and speed sensing systems have been used to record race results since the 1960s. The faster vehicles need a parachute to slow down, an innovation credited (indirectly) to cartoonist Tom Medley.
The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) is a drag racing governing body, which sets rules in drag racing and hosts events all over the United States and Canada. With over 80,000 drivers in its rosters, the NHRA is one of the largest motorsports sanctioning bodies in the world.
The association was founded by Wally Parks in 1951 in the State of California to provide a governing body to organize and promote the sport of drag racing. The first nationwide NHRA sponsored event was held in 1955, in Great Bend, Kansas. (Typical for the era, this race was held on a World War II-constructed training air field.) The national event series (the "Nationals"), which now comprise 22 events each year, are the premier events in drag racing that bring together the best cars and drivers from across North America. The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals are now held at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Clermont, Indiana and are officially called the U.S. Nationals. Winners of national events are awarded a trophy statue in honor of founder Wally Parks. The trophy is commonly referred to by its nickname, a “Wally”.
Pro Stock Drag Racing is a class of drag racing featuring 'Factory Hot-Rods'. The class can be known as "all motor," as the cars cannot use artificial induction such as turbocharging, supercharging, or nitrous oxide, and there are very strict rules governing the modifications allowed to the engines, and the types of bodies used.
Maple Grove Raceway is a quarter-mile dragstrip located near Mohnton, Pennsylvania, just outside Reading. It opened in 1962 as a 1/5-mile dragstrip. It was eventually lengthened to its current quarter-mile length in 1964. The track has been sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association for most of its existence. It has hosted an NHRA national event since 1985. Uni-Select Auto Plus came aboard as the Nationals sponsor in 2011. Other key events include the American Drag Racing League, the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, the Geezers Reunion at The Grove, the Super Chevy Show, Mopar Action, Fun Ford Weekend and the NHRA Pennsylvania Dutch Classic.
Local drag racers can compete in the Sunoco Race Fuels Money Trail, a points program that crowns champions in Super, Pro, Street and Top Bike eliminators. Younger racers, ages 8-17, can compete in the Junior Drag Racing League. Both programs have been successful on a national basis; drivers from the Money Trail program have won 13 Summit Racing Series Northeast Division ET Finals, while the Juniors have won four NHRA Eastern Conference championships.
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