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NHRA site drops Chrysler engine credit

by David Zatz on

While Toyota, GM, and Ford all compete in NHRA’s Funny Car and Top Fuel arenas with sponsored teams, until recently, NHRA acknowledged — until recently — that they based their engines on the Chrysler Hemi:

… 7,000-horsepower Top Fuel dragsters are often referred to as the “kings of the sport,” and with good reason. … Powered by a supercharged and fuel-injected 500-cubic-inch adaptation of the famed Chrysler Hemi engine… Funny Cars are powered by the same supercharged and fuel-injected 500-inch engines as Top Fuel dragsters.

That text, which was intact at the beginning of last week, has now been replaced with a shorter, vaguer version, which eliminates any references to Chrysler or the Hemi. One observer wrote that Ford and Toyota requested the changes, to increase the marketing power of wins by Toyota and Ford, and John Force in particular. (The issue was made more salient by yesterday’s Courtney Force Funny Car win at the NHRA Northwest Nationals.)

Former racer Ellis Brasher pointed out that in the past Force referred to his cars as being powered by Ford engines. Force did not, according to Brasher, make such claims when he was racing GM-bodied cars. Yet, in a 2005 interview, Force said, “Because we want an all-Ford motor and yet we have to fit underneath the NHRA….this won’t be a Chrysler design, everything evolved from the Chrysler.” Still, Brasher compared the heads of the new Ford engine with those of the Chrysler Hemi, and found them to be very similar — and both quite different from Ford heads.

Until last week, NHRA acknowledged the debt modern drag racers owe to Chrysler engineers. While Chrysler did not invent hemispherical-head engines, they did make numerous contributions to the state of the art, bringing the Hemi into the mainstream and then to the top of NASCAR and drag racing.

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