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Nitromethane is the fuel used to create the extreme energy needed to go more than 330 miles per hour. An 85% nitromethane and 15% methanol (racing alcohol) mixture is the maximum allowed percentage of nitromethane allowed by the NHRA. Nitromethane requires much less oxygen to burn than gasoline which results in more power.

Because of its chemical properties, nitromethane does not combust as quickly as gasoline and therefore the unburned fuel leaves the engine through the exhaust pipes. The heat of the exhaust pipes ignites the nitromethane which is why Top Fuel Dragsters have very visible giant flames coming out of the exhaust pipes at night. The thrust of the exhaust creates a downward force helping with the Top Fuel Dragster’s traction.

nitomethane molecule
A nitromethane molecule