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How Team Mopar Uses Real-Time Data To Get Ready To Race
The art of tuning an 11,000-plus-horsepower HEMI® engine Top Fuel Dragster or Funny Car is a combination of both science and intuition. The Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) team has a lot of talented drivers and crew chiefs, but when it comes to making decisions on each Top Fuel Dragster or Funny Car, due to the short time between runs (and the amount of parts that are replaced between runs), the driver and crew chief don’t have the time to waste when deciding on the best path of adjustments for the next run.
It really is just a 10-minute window where, after the engine is torn down and the data is pulled from the ECU to the computer, the driver and crew chief have to make their decisions.
So, what does that mean for them? According to Team Mopar® Funny Car driver Matt Hagan, “We have over 100 things that can be changed on the racecar and in the engine. But, with the time available, crew chief Dickie Venables and I really have about 10-12 things that we really focus on adjusting.”
These can (according to Hagan) include things like the engine timing, the clutch engagement settings, the nitro methane fuel rate to the HEMI engine, the weight balance of the car that can be moved around, the amount of rear wing, and a few other smaller changes in the systems mentioned.
Hagan continued, “I think that the part that is unique in our sport and is interesting for fans to understand is what happens after we fire up the car in the pits after we make the changes using the information we learned when the engine is rebuilt. We then take the car to the staging lanes to prepare for the next run in those lanes.
“A number of DSR team members and my crew chief Dickie are monitoring the weather, the track and the individual lanes, while I sit in the car waiting. They will continue to make changes to my Funny Car before we make the next pass.”
With all of the talent within the DSR organization and the data that is provided by the electronics, every run remains an experiment. “When watching the broadcast on FOX, Dickie can be seen under the body right up until my burnout making changes. It’s pretty wild for me to be there listening to my team tell me what we are doing right up until that burnout,” said Hagan.
With DSR and Mopar/Dodge/SRT® support, the wins and championships collected demonstrate that technology and human talent is a winning combination.