Check out this 11,000 horsepower HEMI V8 Top Fuel engine get completely rebuilt in this amazing time-lapse video.
We’ve seen plenty of 1,000 hp engines in our time here. Hennessey can’t seem to make an engine that’s less than 1,000 horses. There have also been some 1,200 hp engines, and Bugatti of course has their 1,497 hp quad-turbo W16, and Devil Motors swears by their 5,000 hp monstrosity, but 11,000 hp is a number that we haven’t really seen much of.
You don’t get insane power figures like that until you go to the very extreme end of drag racing. We’re talking Top Fuel dragsters, the fastest accelerating cars on the planet. These tiny-front-wheeled-but-massive-rear-wheeled monsters can go from zero to 100 mph in less than a second. Drivers experience g-forces equal to four times the pull of Earth’s gravity.
Imagine being pulled into your seat with the force of four times your own body weight.
In order to achieve these extreme feats of power and speed, Top Fuel dragsters run the ragged edge of what an engine can do. They use 90% nitromethane, a fuel with 7 times the energy of regular gasoline, but it’s a volatile substance going through an engine that’s tuned to within an inch of its life. One faulty seal and the whole thing can go up.
That’s why dragster engines like these are torn down and rebuilt almost constantly. This particular model, an 8.2-L supercharged HEMI V8 belonging to Tony Schumacher's U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster, has survived long enough in order to warrant a rebuild.
Although the entire rebuild takes hours, the time lapse makes it fly by in just about 5 minutes. Note the blowtorch used in order to extract the cylinders, and the use of very specialized components to make things as efficient as possible. Everything is taken apart, cleaned, recalibrated, and re-lubed by hand before being reassembled in record time.
The average lifespan of a dragster engine like this is usually between 11-12 runs. Considering the average race is over in less than 4 seconds, that’s a lifespan of around 45 seconds of throttle. A pretty insane amount of work goes into these cars considering how long they actually need to perform.