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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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By SUSAN WADE
Published March 15, 2007
Top Fuel is drag racing's top-of-the-line category. Nothing accelerates faster than these 7,000-horsepower, nitromethane-burning dragsters. They are powered by supercharged, custom-built, 500-cubic-inch engines mounted behind the driver and can cover a quarter-mile from a standing start in less than five seconds at 325-plus mph.
Entering the 2007 season, national performance records for the category are 4.428 seconds and 336.15 mph. Tony Schumacher, the two-time defending Powerade Series Top Fuel champion, owns the elapsed time and speed marks.
Two parachutes, activated by a hand control inside the cockpit, are the dragster's primary braking system. The minimum weight of a Top Fuel dragster, including the driver, is 2,225 pounds.
Funny Cars are short-wheelbased cars with a fiberglass replica of a production car body. The engines are identical to those that power Top Fuel dragsters, with one difference - they are located in front of the driver. The minimum weight of a Funny Car, including the driver, is 2,400 pounds. Current styles are Ford Mustangs, Chevy Monte Carlos, Dodge Stratus R/Ts, Dodge Chargers, and Toyota Solaras.
These machines are capable of elapsed times faster than five seconds and speeds faster than 320 mph. Jack Beckman entered the 2007 season with both ends of the national performance record at 4.662 seconds and 333.66 mph, but Tony Pedregon set the time record Feb. 25 at Chandler, Ariz., with a 4.659-second pass.
Pro Stock cars, while retaining a close resemblance to their showroom counterparts, feature extensive engine modifications, sophisticated chassis, and suspension development, along with a maximum 500 cubic-inch engine displacement and a minimum vehicle weight of 2,350 pounds, including driver. Pro Stock cars must be 2000 or newer two-door coupes or sedans. All cars use carburetors and burn gasoline.
Reigning champion Jason Line has the national-record performances with a 6.558-second elapsed time, 209.75-mph effort last October.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
The Pro Stock Motorcycle class is reserved for 1997 or newer stock-appearing, carbureted, gasoline-burning machines. The minimum weight for a bike and rider is 600 to 615 pounds for Harley-Davidson and Buell riders, 575 for Honda and Kawasaki riders, 590 for Suzuki riders, and 600 for all others.
Angelle Sampey set the record for elapsed time at 6.939 in 2006, and Andrew Hines recorded the speed mark two years ago at Gainesville Raceway, 197.45 mph.