Home » Bob Tasca III Just Did 341.68 MPH In A Funny Car To Set A World Record

Bob Tasca III Just Did 341.68 MPH In A Funny Car To Set A World Record

341 Mph Bob Tasca Ts2
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Drag racing is one of the purest motorsports out there. Point the car in a straight line, and go as fast as you possibly can. It’s a simple concept, and yet coming out a winner is often anything but. Bob Tasca III knows that better than most, having made his career in the sport. His decades of experience served him well this past weekend when he beat the standing outright speed record for the fastest piston-driven drag racing run in history.

It bears noting that drag racing, like a lot of other motorsports, has had to make changes in the name of safety over the years. Perhaps most striking was the decision made by the NHRA in 20o8, cutting back from quarter-mile races down to 1000 feet for the top classes. This was done, along with a raft of other regulations over the years, in an effort to limit top speeds for safety reasons.

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And yet, speeds have marched on regardless. In 2022, the NHRA published a list of the 20 fastest speeds recorded in nitro racing history. Robert Hight had the number 1 spot, hitting 339.87 mph in a pass at Sonoma in 2017. In fact, of the top 20 speeds, only one was from before 2008, recorded in the quarter mile instead of the shorter 1000-foot distance. Tony Schumacher had recorded a speed of 337.57 mph in the quarter mile at Brainerd in 2005.

Those are old numbers, though. On the night of February 9, it was all about the new ones, with Bradenton Motorsports Park hosting the Pro Superstar Shootout. Bob Tasca III lined up in the PPG Mustang Dark Horse Nitro Funny Car, finished in its gorgeous pale blue livery. Lining up in a qualifying run against fellow legend John Force, Tasca committed as his rival shut down early in the run. Blazing past the line, the scoreboard flashed a glorious number, not seen before. 341.68 MPH.

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“Today’s record is the result of years of passion, teamwork, and the relentless chase for speed,” said Bob Tasca III in a statement. “This achievement belongs to every member of Tasca Racing, our partners at PPG, and Ford Performance. Their support and Ford’s aerodynamic and engineering expertise were crucial in breaking the 340 mph barrier, a dream I’ve always had.”

There is a caveat to Tasca’s run. The Pro Superstar Shootout was not an official NHRA event, and thus the run will not be an official NHRA record. It appears he still achieved something no other driver has, but it won’t be marked down in the official history books as such.

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PPG has been a major sponsor of a number of drag racing cars over the years. It seems the drag racing audience is a big target market for professional paint solutions.
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Oh. Yeah. The paint withstands direct flames from the combustion of 10,000-plus horsepower? I get it now.

Indeed, even before the record run, Tasca was already having a great weekend. During an earlier qualifying round, he’d already matched Hight’s 2017 record down to two decimal places, piloting his funny car to a speed of 339.87 mph. Things only got better from there.

It’s also funny to note that while Tasca hit a record speed of 341.68 mph, his elapsed time wasn’t particularly notable. He made a run of 3.840 seconds, which was only good enough for second in qualifying. Ultimately, Austin Prock would take home the crown in the Funny Car class at the Pro Superstar Shootout, pocketing $250,000 in prize money for his trouble.

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Tasca’s car, pictured in 2022. Gorgeous livery, no?

In any case, though, it’s a great drag racing story. Everything has to come together for a record-breaking run like this. The track has to be perfectly prepared, sticky as all hell. The car needs to be set up just so by an expert crew that’s firing on all cylinders. Oh, and ideally, Mother Nature will contribute plenty of cool, dense air to the equation. Cue all that up, and you’ve got yourself a shot at making some history. All you need then is the right driver in the hot seat, and last weekend, that was Bob Tasca III. A job well done.

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Image credits: FloRacing via YouTube screenshot

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Parsko
Parsko
5 months ago

3 what?

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
5 months ago

Man, that’s insane that even after the reduction to 1000′ distances, they’ve still figured out a way to make them go THAT fast.

Steve P
Steve P
5 months ago

We’re a long way from the days of “240 Gordie” Bonin.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
5 months ago

The physics of top tier drag racing really bends the mind. To hit 241 mph at 1000 feet would require 4 g constant acceleration – but that would be a 4 second run, and this car did it faster than that, so it was accelerating faster than 4g during the run. Pretty wild when you consider conventional logic that tires with 100% of the vehicle weight bearing on them should only be able to deliver 1 g of acceleration – and these things are 2 wheel drive.
It turns out the physics of what is going on at the contact of a sticky rubber drag tire and a prepped sticky track just aren’t that well understood. But whatever is going on there these dragsters are exploiting *all of it*, which I just think is really cool.
Another ‘fun with simple math’ data point – if the car really was accelerating at 4 g through the finish lights at 341 mph, and the car weighed the legal minimum of 2200 lbs, then the power required just for that acceleration at that speed is over 7800 hp – which is ignoring driveline losses, tire losses, and most importantly drag – which at 341 mph in a car with massive downforce is not something to neglect at all.
One of the other factoids about top dragsters that has always tickled my fancy is that we really don’t know how much power they actually make – we don’t have equipment that can dyno them. We know they’re ‘over 10,000 hp’ but I think they’re quite a bit over that number to turn in performances like the one in the video. There was an attempt to measure one during a race with in-line torque meters in the axle shafts, and IIRC the results surprised even the race team. But that value is after the slip clutches in the transmission, so flywheel horsepower is still unknown.

ElmerTheAmish
ElmerTheAmish
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

Thank you sir, I love seeing this kind of stuff!

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
5 months ago
Reply to  ElmerTheAmish

So, Mr. TheAmish, what kind of quarter mile times do you get in your buggy?

ElmerTheAmish
ElmerTheAmish
5 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

Listen, it’s all about power to weight, right? So what I’ve done is get rid of everything I can from the buggy, to the point I only have a single axle and a seat. Then, there needs to be an increase in horsepower, so I sold the rest of the buggy to add another horse! Reduced weight, double the horsepower, and EUREKA! The original Amish Hotrodder!

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
5 months ago
Reply to  ElmerTheAmish

Next, you gotta increase traction. Get rid of the steel horseshoes and put one some rubber racing slicks.

Huibert Mees
Huibert Mees
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

Mike, now re-run your math knowing that he was going 290 mph at the mid-point of the track! He only gained ~50 mph during the second half. It is truly unreal.

Last edited 5 months ago by Huibert Mees
Mike Smith
Mike Smith
5 months ago
Reply to  Huibert Mees

Absolutely. With that in mind, imagine the trap speeds if they were allowed to run active aero that could ‘trim out’ past half track.
Which is exactly the reason why they don’t allow it. They already shortened the 1/4 mile to 1000 feet to combat rising top speeds going beyond what the end-of-track runoff safety measures can handle, and cars are going faster now at 1000′ than they used to at 1320′.
I’m very much of two minds when it comes to top fuel dragsters and funny cars. On one hand they’re technical marvels, and real spectacles to watch, especially in person. On the other hand they’re silly wasteful things; if you have to rebuild your machined-out-of-billet-unobtanium nitro swilling blown big block V8 after every run, how is that functionally different than strapping a solid rocket to your car every run? Both are consumable, but one would be significantly cheaper and easier to deal with – and it isn’t the internal combustion engine option.

HOT_HATCH
HOT_HATCH
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

I have a top fuel piston that I was given a few years ago. It’s incredibly heavy considering how fast it’s traveling.

HOT_HATCH
HOT_HATCH
5 months ago
Reply to  Huibert Mees

He was going 290 MPH at 660 feet. Half track for the 1/4, but 3/5 for them.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

The bit about not having a dyno that can handle them is a bit of a misnomer. The real reason no one’s ever acurrately dyno’ed a nitro engine is because a nitro engine at full power will consume itself in less than 10 seconds. By mid track the spark plug electrodes are completely gone and the thing is dieseling on the compression and the heat in the engine. The only way to shut one off is to cut the fuel.

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

Worth noting that the coefficient of friction’s an arbitrary value that isn’t limited to 1.00, so physics-wise there’s no reason it should be limited to 1G of acceleration. It just gets harder and harder to make materials that stick well enough to go over 1.0 but still release enough to let the tire rotate (while also not just disintegrating from the force). Plus of course the aerodynamic “cheating” in the upper speed ranges that let the normal force exceed the car’s weight.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
5 months ago

I really, really like that paint job. Gorgeous.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
5 months ago

The comedy of calling this a “Mustang”.

Even further removed than Mitsubishi making an Eclipse (cross) SUV.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
5 months ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

Funny cars have done this for decades.

Speedway Sammy
Speedway Sammy
5 months ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

Ford is providing the $$$ so they can call it what they want.

Serial Thriller
Serial Thriller
5 months ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

That’s why they’re called “funny cars”
(not really)

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
5 months ago

I know this site isn’t as dense with motorsports fans as some others are, so I’m just popping on here to say that I sincerely believe that anyone who is any kind of automotive enthusiast at all, needs to attend an NHRA nitro event at least once. Because afterward your perception of acceleration, speed and sound will never again be the same.

John Klier
John Klier
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

…and you’ll never forget the smell. That’s what always stuck with me after seeing one for the first time as a kid.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

And neither will your hearing. On the upside though, it makes married life much easier.

Speedway Sammy
Speedway Sammy
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

When you sit in the stands and feel the various internal organs in your torso vibrating. It’s definitely unlike any other experience although I could imagine a huge rocket launch like a Saturn or Starship might be similar if you were close enough.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

Also, the access – you can stand literally feet away from the mechanics and watch as they tear down an engine, and it’s almost impossible to NOT meet the drivers, if you want to. It’s one of the best small-d democratic motorsports around for that kind of stuff.

Masterbuilder
Masterbuilder
5 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Unfortunately, they don’t do the “throttle whacks” to manually seat the clutch packs anymore. When they did, the pits were much more amazing (and much louder) than they are now.

Your first time at an NHRA Top Fuel event will stick with you forever.

Gubbin
Gubbin
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

Never been, but a triple-engine job showed up at a local tractor pull once and proceeded to give everyone a concussive full-body massage purely through sound pressure. Wife still talks about it sometimes.

Jho'nuquas
Jho'nuquas
5 months ago
Reply to  Gubbin

Now I understand why my wife likes tractor pulls!
“full body massage” 😉

Huibert Mees
Huibert Mees
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

Came here to say this! Top fuel drag racing is unlike any other motorsport. It is an absolute outright assault on ALL of your senses and leave the track a different person. The first time I went was a total mind fuck.

Hotdoughnutsnow
Hotdoughnutsnow
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

Years ago, I was talked into going to a NASCAR race in Richmond, VA. There, you can walk the entire track loop, just yards from the cars screaming by, and get pelted with tiny bits of rubber. I thought that was loud until I went to and NHRA event Virginia Motorsports Park outside of Petersburg… as we arrived and were parking, there was a loud explosion sound and we thought something had gone wrong… nope: TOP FUEL DRAGSTERS!!

HOT_HATCH
HOT_HATCH
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

I stood about 30 feet from the track, at the 60 foot mark in Phoenix last year and was genuinely concerned for my organs. I wore double ear pro and it still rattled my brain.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
5 months ago

What makes the story even cooler is his family heritage – among other things, his grandfather started one of the handful of all-time famous dealerships and basically created Ford’s Cobra Jet package. They’ve been racing for decades.

The vintage “Welcome Mario Andretti” pic, with the all the cars (and suits) lined up is one of my Ford history favorites.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
5 months ago

Damn that’s where I race. I didn’t even know this was going on. They do have a great surface though, and it was just completely redone last year I think. Unfortunately, like most tracks, its future is uncertain as developers want to build a huge community like RIGHT NEXT TO the track.https://www.yourobserver.com/news/2022/dec/16/housing-development-plans-advance-despite-dissent-from-racing-community/

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
5 months ago

Developers. The bane of 80’s teen comedies.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
5 months ago

The county will allow it, and then, when the occupants complain about the noise, suddenly the track is the nuisance.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
5 months ago

If someone wanted to build a drag strip next to a suburb, they’d be shot down immediately. That the reverse can and does happen is inexcusable madness.

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