What are drag racing classes? Drag racing classes are categories or eliminators. Each governed by a drag racing sanctioning body or an organization that establishes a schedule of drag racing events. For North America the two largest drag racing event organizers are the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA).
The United Kingdom has the British Drag Racing Association (BDRA). Australia is governed by the Australian Drag Racing Association (ANDRA) and the New Zealand sanctioning body is New Zealand Drag Racing Association (NZDRA). There’s also an organization for European countries as such as the UK, Sweden, Finland and Germany. This organization falls under the FIA umbrella known as the FIA European Drag Racing Championships.
There are many, many smaller organisations that are run by car clubs and enthusiasts in each country. Too many to list here. This is a brief summary of the main sanctioning bodies. Next we’ll take a brief look at the many different drag racing classes from each of the biggest events organisers.
What Are Drag Racing Classes In The USA?
There are literally hundreds of drag racing classes within the NHRA and IHRA organised events. We’ll start with a list of the most popular classes held today.
- Top Fuel
- Funny Car
- Pro Stock
- Pro Stock Bike
- Top Alcohol Dragster
- Top Alcohol Funny Car
- Super Comp
- Super Gas
- Super Street
- Pro Mod
- Heads Up Competition Classes are Comp
- Super Stock
- Top Dragster
- Top Sportsman
There are also Nostalgia drag racing events and classes too. These classes are based around some of the drag racing classes from back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. A few of the more popular nostalgia drag racing classes are:
- Nostalgia Pro Stock
- Nostalgia Super Stock
- Vintage Gassers
- Nostalgia Top Fuel
- Nostalgia Funny cars
Top Fuel. Top Fuel drag cars today are the fastest accelerating drag cars in the world. With a 90/10 Nitromethane and Methanol blend of fuel, the engines make 7000 plus horsepower. The cars consist of a long and sleek body of up to 25 feet long. The body is just 51 inches wide. With a supercharged engine of a Hemispherical head design in the back, The driver sits in front of the engine for added safety.
The rear tires known as slicks are 36 inches tall, and 17 1/2 inches wide. Under full acceleration the tires narrow and ‘grow’ up to 38 inches in diameter under full acceleration. The sound of the engine is astronomical. The sound can literally vibrate the clothing on your body. The cars can run the full drag strip in under 4 seconds and reach speeds of up to 335 MPH. (530 KM/H). As with most, but not all drag racing classes, the first car to cross the finish line wins.
Funny Car. The Funny Car Class is very similar to the Top Fuel Class. They are the same in a sense as they run the same supercharged 500 cubic inch engines and the same fuel. They can also cover the full drag strip in very similar times and speeds. The difference is quite noticeable though. They have a full fibre glass body. The bodies are meant to represent a factory production car.
Some of the Funny car bodies are made of carbon fibre. The nose of the body is raised or lifted to enter the race car and to service the engine. The engine is located in front of the driver. Unlike the Top Fuel race cars. The Funny Cars also have a much shorter wheelbase too.
Pro Stock. Pro Stock cars are easily recognisable as a factory production car. Ever since the class started in 1970, they were quickly known as ‘Factory Hot Rods’ and ‘All Motor’. This is because they use an aspirated engine. Meaning that no power adders as such as a supercharger is allowed. The engines run on a rule set type of gasoline and use electronic fuel injection.
Within a few a short years, full tube chassis were introduced along with four link rear suspensions. The cars have a weight minimum of 2,350 pounds and have precise measurements to adhere to. They are capable of running the drag strip in just 6.5 seconds at over 200mph.
Pro Stock Bike. With varying engine sizes from 92 to 160 cubic inches, Pro Stock Bike engine makes include, V-Twin Harley engines, Buell and Victory to name a few. As well as Suzuki and Kawasaki four cylinder engines. There are many different chassis makes too.
Like Pro Stock, the engines must run on a rule set spec gasoline. The engines are also fuel injected with no power adders allowed. They also have a tube chassis and fibre glass body panels that represent the make and model of the bike. They can reach speeds of up to 195 plus mph and 6.8 second elapsed times.
Top Alcohol Dragster Class. Top Alcohol Dragsters look very similar to Top Fuel Dragsters. Top Alcohol Dragsters run a supercharged methanol engine, or a fuel injected nitro methanol blend. The injected cars use a similar clutch type transmission as Top Fuel. The supercharged cars have a three speed transmission.
Weights vary between 1,975 to 2,125 pounds. They also have a restricted wheelbase of 300 inches and can reach speeds of up to 285 mph at around 5.1 seconds on the drag strip.
Top Alcohol Funny Car. Top Alcohol Funny cars look very similar to the nitro fueled funny cars. They are restricted to using only methanol fuel and have a three speed transmission. They have the same chassis as the nitro funny cars along with the same fibre glass bodies. They can reach speeds up to 270 mph and run the drag strip in around 5.3 seconds.
Comp Class. The Comp Drag Racing Class has a very wide range of drag cars. For example you’ll often see dragsters against Altereds. Street roadsters and coupes against sedans, front engine nostalgia dragsters or slingshots. Sport compact cars versus trucks as well as any mix of the above mentioned.
There are 75 different classes. Engine combo’s are just as diverse. From turbo charged four and six cylinder engines to Pro Stock style v8 engines. There’s also a wide variety of nitrous engine combo’s too. Most cars are set into categories using a formula that divides the cars total weight by cubic inches. Each class has an index to run by. Races are Hani capped according to the set index. For more information about how this actually works visit the link here https://www.dragzine.com/features/car-features/understanding-class-racing-nhra-competition-eliminator/
Super Comp. This is the quickest of the heads up Super classes which run on an 8.90 second index. Most of the cars in this class are dragsters. Engine, chassis and body mods are practically unlimited. There may be a minimum weight for four and six cylinder cars of 1,000 pounds. All other cars that run in this class cannot weigh less than 1.350 pounds.
Most of the cars in this class are quite capable of running faster or under the 8.90 index. A lot of these cars have electronic devices including a timer and an adjustable throttle. Thus allows the cars to run close to the set class time without ‘breaking out’, or running faster than the time specified.
Super Gas. Super Gas cars run on a 9.90 second index. This is where you’ll see full bodied cars. Many of these cars are or can be street legal and driven regularly. You’ll see street roadsters in this class too. Dragsters and Altereds are not allowed to run in this class. Engine and chassis rules for this particular class are fairly open. So you can often find virtually any engine and chassis combination. As such as turbos and blowers. Tunnel rams or nitrous. Although the use of exotic fuels is not allowed.
The minimum weight is 2,100 pounds. Four cylinder cars have a minimum weight of 1,200 pounds. You’ll find electronic devices are often used as in Super Comp, in aid of running within the specified index. Races are staged using a four tenths pro start too. Same as Super Comp.
Super Street Class. Super Street race cars run on a 10.90 second index. All cars have to be full bodied and weigh no less than 2,800 pounds. Six cylinder cars can have a 2000 pound weight minimum and rotary powered cars just 1,200 pounds. Engine and chassis are practically unlimited. A five tenths Pro Tree is used to start the race with.
Pro Mod Class. The Pro Mod class is a class of it’s own. You can find beautifully modified 41 Willy’s coupes to 63 Corvettes. Late model Camaro’s to Mustangs and Dodge Vipers. As well as anything in between. The class is very diverse, Engine choices are often supercharged, nitrous injected or turbo charged. The cars can run the drag strip in high five second elapsed times with speeds beyond 250 mph.
Super Stock Class. Super Stock cars look just like an ordinary passenger vehicle. They are indeed highly modified race cars. Here, you’ll find late model sedans. The cars are categorised by factory shipping weight and NHRA factored horsepower. While engine mods are permitted the cars must have the correct engine block, cylinder heads and carburetor. The cars run on a specified index system and are handicapped accordingly, with an enforced breakout rule.
Stock Class. Similar to Super Stock cars with strict engine and body mods rules. Almost any car is able to enter. Entries are classified in the same way as Super Stock by way of weights and horsepower. Bodies must be factory stock with full interior and a maximum 9 inch wide rear slick or tire.
Engines must be factory correct and retain the stock cylinder heads ,intake manifold and carburetor. Engine mods are limited to a basic rebuild and balancing with minimum performance enhancements as such as cylinder head and intake manifold porting.
Top Dragster & Top Sportsman Class. The Top Dragster and Top Sportsman class is essentially a two classes for fast E.T eliminators. Top Dragster features open when drag cars and Top Sportsman features full bodied cars. The qualifying fields will have either 32, 48 or 64 cars at an event. Eliminations for both classes run a bracket racing set index, with a full 3 amber Christmas tree start. The breakout rule is enforced. The cars regularly run the drag strip in six seconds at over 200 mph. For more details about the class see this link here https://www.dragzine.com/features/top-sportsman-top-dragster-racing-on-top-of-the-sportsman-world/
Nostalgia Drag Racing Classes
So this sums up the most common drag racing classes in North America today. Next we’ll take a brief look at nostalgia drag racing classes and events that are happening all across the country as well. Nostalgia Drag Racing is a handful of drag racing classes dedicated to the way drag racing used to be. Known as the golden era of drag racing. When there were far less rules and fuss.
The average drag racer could make a full time living during drag racing’s hey day back in the 60’s and 70’s. Today, nostalgia drag racing is more popular than ever. With technology bringing more powerful engines and advanced chassis design, so the old style drag cars still have to meet todays safety standards as well.
- Nostalgia Pro Stock. The Nostalgia Pro Stock class is a tribute class to the heyday of Pro Stock. As mentioned in the Pro Stock class section already, the class started in 1970. The cars are full bodied cars and look just like you’d buy them off the showroom floor. Except you could tell they were actually highly modified race cars just by looking at them. With enormous hood scoops, big fat tires out back, and skinny tires in the front, they looked all business.
There are a few different classes within the category that run on different indexes. From the Mountain Motor class which has a 6.00 to 7.99 index to the class IV category which run on a 9.50 index. There’s a lot of variations within the class as the Pro Stock class changed and progressed over the years. For a complete list of each car type and specification see this link here https://jeffjohnsonmotorsports.com/nostalgia-pro-stock-rules.
I’ve also written an article featuring Nostalgia Pro Stock t shirts as well. You’ll also find a link to join the National Nostalgia Pro Stock Association group on Facebook, Anyone fan or drag racer can join the group. See the link here for further info https://quartermileaddiction.com/2020/06/28/national-nostalgia-pro-stock-association-drag-racing-t-shirts/
- Nostalgia Super Stock. Also known as NSS. This is the most popular and fastest growing type of drag racing today. Super Stock was formed at or around the mid 1950’s. The cars were restricted to factory produced engine sizes with minimal cylinder head, intake manifold, camshaft and valve train modifications allowed. Tire sizes were also restricted.
This is the class that started it all. At around 1960, drag racing had become more widely acceptable by the general public. Drag racing was beginning to amass a huge following. Drag racers themselves were already ‘addicted’ to the sport by then. With the thrill of staging the car next to your opponent, waiting for the light to change to green, then dropping the hammer to blast down the 1320.
At this time It seemed that the fans had become ‘addicted’ too. They just couldn’t get enough of the action. Crowd attendance was growing literally every weekend, Car manufacturers were taking notice as well. In short, you could simply walk into your local dealer and buy a ‘factory hotrod’ off the showroom floor and go racing with it yourself, that same weekend.
Pretty soon the big three manufacturers were building and selling ‘factory drag cars’. Designed specifically for drag racing only. Usually, the only way you could get your hands on one of these factory race cars was, you had to be a factory sponsored drag racer. This was the start of the factory race wars.
In essence, this is what nostalgia super stock recreates today. The engines are more powerful, with engine sizes in the 620 cubic inch range. The cars can blast down the quarter mile in around 8 seconds at over 150 mph. For more info about arguably the most popular drag racing class today, go here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nostalgia_Super_Stock
As a side note I’d like to add, this drag racing class inspired me to start this website and name it, Quarter Mile Addiction. As the logo suggests, established in 1960. I believe that around that time (1960) drag racing around the world had become addictive for both drag racers and fans alike.
- Vintage Gassers. The Gasser class is mostly a hot rod class. The class originated from the 1950’s through to the 1970’s. Before Pro Stock, these cars were the fastest cars around. With front ends stuck high in the air, and engines raised high in the engine bay, this helped with power and weight transfer. Before high tech tube chassis, this was the best way to get power to the ground on the starting line.
Although the cars ran on gasoline fuel, it’s very common to see supercharged or fuel injected engines in these cars, even today. This is another class that has grown over the years and some rules have changed. Depending on where the event is held, some events allow alcohol fuels. Racers use a dial your own index.
This means that the winner is determined by how close to their dialed in time they are at the finish line. IE: Running a 10 second time on a 10 second dial in, or a 10.01 etc. A 9.99 elapsed time would mean a break, out leading to a loss of the race, Even if the other car ran much slower than their own dial in time.
- Nostalgia Top Fuel & Funny Cars. The Nostalgia Top Fuel & Funny Car dragsters today, have very little in common with the original top fuel cars from the 1960’s and 1970’s. Basically only the engine location and tire size is the same. Also, there are no driver aids, just the way the cars used to be. They look the part. But they out perform the cars of the golden era by a long shot. With 6 second E.T’s and 240+ mph speeds I’m sure you can understand why.
Canadian Drag Strip Eliminators
There are currently 21 drag racing associations and 10 hot rod associations in Canada today, spanning 26 drag strips across the country. The two main associations are the NHRA and IHRA. So what are drag racing classes in Canada? Most drag racing classes are the same as those listed in the USA. One very different and very cool drag racing class to watch out for is snowmobile drag racing as well as grass drags. Amazingly these vehicles race on both the tarmac as well as snow.
Drag Racing In The United Kingdom
There are two major drag racing groups within the British Drag Racing Association. They are the Professional and Sportsman drag racing groups. In the professional drag racing category the winner is usually the first across the finish line. The Sportsman category, racers use a set index just like bracket racing. The most popular drag racing classes are, starting with the Professional category as follows:
- Top Fuel Dragsters. The cars use Nitro Methane fuel and reach speeds of up to 300 mph in around 4 seconds.
- Fuel Funny Cars. Fuel Funny cars have the same engine as Top Fuel, run on Nitro, the have a carbon fibre body and a shorter chassis than the Dragsters. The engine is in front of the driver. They are very similar to the Funny Cars in the USA.
- Top Methanol. Both dragsters and funny cars race together in this class. They use less expensive fuel and are almost as fast as Top Fuel Dragster class and Funny Cars.
- Pro Modified Cars. Similar to Pro Mod in the United States.
- Pro Stock Class. See this class listed under the U.S drag racing classes.
The Sportsman classes in the U.K include:
- Street Eliminator. These cars are street legal and must be able to prove that they can be driven on the street. They must have a current MOT and use treaded street/strip tires. The top cars can pull 7 second quarter mile times.
- Nostalgia Funny Cars. This is the same as the North American class.
- Comp Eliminator. Very similar to Comp Eliminator in the U.S as far as a wide variety of cars and engine & chassis options go. This is a heads up class so there is no breakout rules enforced. They do run to different indexes though.
- Out Law Anglia. Based on the original integrity of the 1940’s Ford Anglia. It’s a Heads Up class with modern technology.
- Wild Bunch. The cars in this class are Altereds, Dragsters and Slingshots or front end dragsters.
- Super Comp. These cars are full bodied cars and run on a 8.90 second index.
- Super Gas. Mostly full bodied cars that run on a 9.90 index.
- Super Street. Similar to Super Gas but run to a 10.90 index.
- Super Pro ET. Dragsters and cars that run between 6.0 to 8.99 second indexes.
- Pro ET. similar to Super Pro with a 9 to 11.99 index.
- Sportsman ET. This is an entry level of a mixture of cars that run 12 seconds or slower.
- Junior Dragsters. The racers are aged between 8 to 17 years old. A great way to introduce kids and spectators of all ages to the world of drag racing.
- Flat Four. Although it’s common to see VW cars in this category, they don’t have to be. They must have a Flat Four engine though.
- VW Pro. This is a top level VW only class with a dial your own E,T of 12.99 or under. There is also a VW Sportsman class as well as a VW Heads Up drag racing class.
- Nostalgia Super Stock. This class is similar to NSS in the U.S. Cars have to be pre 1980, with no power adders allowed and run 15 seconds or faster.
- RWYB Run What Ya Brung class. Most of the cars in this class are normal daily street drivers. It’s another great way to learn and to get involved with the sport. There’s also professional racers and cars as well. This class is usually held as a separate event or track day. For more information about what’s involved and how to be apart of the track day or event visit the link here https://rwyb.co.uk/index.php
- Pro Bike classes include Top Fuel Bike. You’ll find Top Fuel bikes and Funny Bikes in this class. Top Fuel bikes are mostly 1000 hp 4 cylinder bikes. They can run the drag strip in 6 seconds and reach speeds of up to 220+ mph. Funny bikes are lighter and agile. The engines are usually turbo, nitrous or alcohol fueled and powered.
- Super Twin Bike. Similar to Top Fuel bike but with a maximum of two cylinders only.
- Pro Stock Bike. This class has controlled regulations and relies on rider skill and tuning expertise. They can cover the drag strip within the mid 7 second range.
- Super Street Bike. With turbo power or nitrous, a stretched frame with a slick and no wheelie bars, makes for a challenging ride down the drag strip.
- Sportsman Bike classes include Funny Bike that resemble a road bike with no engine or fuel restrictions. They’ll run high 6 second times at 200 mph. Competition Bike. An anything goes class running 7 to 8 second E.T’s. 8.50 & 9.50 Bike class. Junior Bike and E.T Bike. E.T Bike class are either road legal or racing bikes that run 8.7 second E.T’s. Super Twin Top Gas Bike is a heads up class for two cylinder bikes.
The drag racing classes in Australia are very similar to the USA and UK classes with acception to Pro Slammer and Super Charged Laws. The Pro Slammer or Top Door Slammer class consists of full bodied production car replicas with a full chassis. The big cube supercharged engines run on methanol. They are the fastest sedan based category in the world. For further info about this class go here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Doorslammer
The Supercharged Outlaw class combines two classes of dragsters, altereds and funny cars and sedans. All engines are supercharged using a roots or screw type blower. They run on a dial your own index of between 0 to 7.99 seconds.
There are a few nostalgia drag racing classes as well. These cars actually have their own series. There’s the fuel Altereds class and funny car class. Also a gasser class. They usually have their own specific events and travel Australia wide. They have even ventured as far as New Zealand
New Zealand Drag Racing.
As with drag racing classes in Australia, New Zealand drag racing classes are similar to the USA as well. There is one class I’d like to mention here as I’m personally a big fan. This drag racing class is called Wild Bunch New Zealand. The class was known as Top Door Slammer during the mid to late 1980’s. By the early 1990’s the class became a household name under the Wild Bunch moniker. The class rules are as follows:
- D.Y.O Dial Your Own index of 6.99 to 7.99
- PRO Tree
- Qualifying on reaction time
- Supercharged naturally aspirated or Nitrous
- No PSI’s, Turbo’s, Prochargers or EFI
- No more than 632 cubic inches in engine size
- No late model Hemi’s
- BAE, TFX, JP1 engines are ok, limited to BAE5 heads
- KB, Arias, Donovan allowed
- Pre 1999 body styles only
- Grandfather rules apply to previous to previous Wild Bunch cars or recreations
For information about the Wild Bunch drag racing class visit the Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/WILD-BUNCH-New-Zealand-564760120599420/ be sure to like, follow the page to stay up to date with news and up coming events.
That concludes my basic overview on what are drag racing classes? If you have any info you would like to add, or have any questions, please leave a comment below. If you’re a drag racer or a fan of the sport, you might be interested in learning about some cool nostalgia drag racing t shirts, I have created. Visit the home page here https://quartermileaddiction.com/ for drag racing apparel and to learn more about the golden era of drag racing.