A drag race car is a specially modified vehicle used in acceleration competitions known as drag races. In such races, two cars are pitted against one another and have a very short length of track to cover to see which has the superior acceleration ability. Drag race cars are built for extreme speed in sprints; they do not need to be able to loop around a track multiple times in competition. There are a number of different classes divided by size, weight, body type, and engine specifications.
Racing authorities divide the drag race car designs they accept into a number of classes that all contain similar vehicles in the interest of parity. The standards for each class can vary between different organizations. Drivers who want to compete under the auspices of different groups may need to recertify or make additional modifications to ensure that their cars will meet competition standards.
The top fuel class is one of the best known types of drag race cars. These lean, aerodynamic cars are built for rapid acceleration, and they have a very distinctive physical appearance. Funny cars have body covers and other modifications that set them apart from regular stock vehicles, but often look very similar to cars seen in show rooms. Some drag race cars are street legal, meeting standards for driveability, while others can only be used on the track.
The design of a drag race car must balance the need for an extremely powerful engine with a lightweight frame. Many cars run on distinctive fuels and fuel mixtures, and the fuel used can determine which class a drag race car belongs in. The use of high energy fuels can help designers build cars as light and efficient as possible, as the car needs to carry less fuel. The engine can make up the bulk of the weight of the vehicle.
Safety is also a concern with a drag race car. Accidents can be extremely dangerous at the high rates of speed these vehicles can reach, and thus designers need to think about issues like containing fires and creating crumple zones for safety in the event of an accident. Many racing organizations require drivers to submit to a safety inspection before they can go on the track. Inspectors will confirm that safety systems are in place and the car meets the standards. They can also check for signs that the car is in the wrong class and can order a vehicle reclassified or ask the driver to remove or adjust some modifications to make it suitable for the class she wants to compete in.