A Drag Racing Breakdown, Class by Class

Updated on January 17, 2019
RavynSteel profile image

RavynSteel is a web designer who spends her spare time at Santa Pod Raceway, home of Drag Racing in the UK.

2005 European Top Fuel Champion Lex Joon.
2005 European Top Fuel Champion Lex Joon. | Source

Car Classes at Drag Racing Events

Here's a breakdown of the major classes shown at drag racing events and how each class is defined.

FIA Top Fuel: The most identifiable of all the dragsters, the top fuelers are the quickest and have the fastest acceleration of all the racers in the world. They are powered by a nitro-burning, supercharged V8 engine and are capable of running the quarter mile in 4 seconds at speeds of over 300 mph, thanks to their 7000–8000 bhp. They can also set off car alarms in a 5-mile radius, and their fire-up fumes act as tear gas!

FIA Top Methanol: Very similar in appearance to the top fuelers but methanol is burned instead of nitromethane. Average speeds reach over 260 mph, and they can run the quarter mile in 5.4 seconds.

FIA Top Methanol Funny Car: These also burn methanol as fuel, but have a replica car body on a short wheelbase. Capable of running 5.6 at 250 mph and over. So-called because the Americans said they looked 'funny' when they were first introduced.

FIA Pro Stock: Powered by a 500ci motor and resembling showroom cars, but with 'exotically modified' motors, heads, manifolds and chassis. Capable of running at 6 seconds at speeds of around 200 mph, burning racing gasoline.

FIA Pro Modified: Also known as 'Doorslammers', these are full-bodied cars, usually American muscle cars, and use a nitro-injected motor. Produce long, smoky burnouts and speeds of 220 mph and over. Average time index 6.1 seconds.

Funny Car: Similar to the top fuel funnies, these carry a replica body on a shorter chassis. Carry a 500ci nitro-burning motor and produce speeds of 300 mph and above. Index time from 5.1 seconds.

Competition Eliminator: A series of handicapped races designed to whittle down the vast amount of vehicles entering the class. No breakout, first over the finish line wins.

Super Comp: A mixture of high-performers from fuel-altered, dragsters and full-bodied vehicles, running to an 8.90 index.

Super Gas: Made up mostly of full-bodied stock looking cars running to a 9.900 index. Any faster means disqualification.

Super Street: Restricted to full-bodied cars only, running to a 10.90 index.

Super Pro ET: Comprised mostly of dragsters with a few quicker, full-bodied cars. Indexes range from 6.30 to 8.99 seconds.

Pro ET: A mixture of full-bodied vehicles and dragsters running to indexes between 9 and 11 seconds.

Sportsman ET: Similar to the other ET classes but on an index of 12 seconds.

Junior Dragster: The junior classes run for entrants aged between 8 and 16. Juniors run over the eighth mile, and average high 7-second passes with speeds of around 80 mph. Doesn't sound fast, until you realise it could be an 8-year old driving it.

Lorenz Stauble from Switzerland on his Top Fuel bike at Santa Pod.
Lorenz Stauble from Switzerland on his Top Fuel bike at Santa Pod. | Source

Bike Classes

UEM Top Fuel Bike: Mix of Top Fuel, Funny and Pro Mod bikes running times in the low 6s at speeds of well over 200 mph.

UEM Super Twin: Nitro-burning, twin cylinder engines mainly based on the Harley Davidson. Average runs are 6 seconds at over 200 mph.

UEM Pro Stock: Single engine, resembling road bikes but with high-tech racing parts and chassis. Running times in the low to mid 7s at speeds in excess of 170 mph.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers


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        5 months ago

        Thanks for a concise and on point article. I was under the impression that the Funny Carclass had replaced Top Fuel as the fastest these days, so thanks for putting me straight on that.

        The times they are turning in these days. Sure beats my old Supercar B, I think it was. That was back in the late sixties. I had put a 327, Crane 555 roller and kit, 12.5 pistons, Hanley valves, blueprinted, clearanced and balanced and so on and ran the low 11's if I remember right, with 513's and slicks.

        Lotta money, lotta fun and I have to honest, I bought the car from my brother although I did help him build it! He/we, never lost a race in that buggy, 58 vette where we butchered the louvered hood to accomodate a velocity stack, ouch, my poor hood!

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        Thank you for such a helpful & informative article! I'm new to the drag racing "scene" and the guy I've been dating has been building & tuning Pro Mod & Radial dragsters, from the ground up, for over half his life. When he starts telling me about the things he's working on in his shop & about the races, it sounds like a foreign language to me. I've got a better understanding of the different classes of drag racing & the cars in each class, thanks to this article.

      • profile image

        hugh roseberry 

        10 years ago

        this page has been very helpful glad it was here.


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