ABU DHABI // Within hours of the unveiling of the Abu Dhabi/Yas Marina Circuit Drag Racing Team, the new kids on the block zoomed into position to win in their debut with the world's premier drag organisation. Rod Fuller flashed across 402 metres in 3.873secs, at 499.106kph, to put the Abu Dhabi/Yas Marina Circuit team into the No 3 qualifying slot in the Top Fuel division yesterday at the Infineon Circuit in California.
The event is sponsored by the National Hod Rod Association (NHRA), the leading drag racing sanctioning body, and is the first of four NHRA events that the Abu Dhabi/Yas Marina Circuit team has committed to race in this year. The team was launched earlier Saturday by the Yas Marina Circuit, home to a Formula One race in November, and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. "It is fantastic that Abu Dhabi now has its very own drag racing team," said Richard Cregan, chief executive of Yas Marina Circuit.
"With so much interest in drag racing in the UAE and the Gulf region and our own state-of-the-art facility at Yas Marina Circuit, it is our hope that we will soon be producing our own world-class drivers here in Abu Dhabi." Cregan said that the team is grooming an aspiring Emirati driver with an eye towards putting him behind the wheel of one of the high-powered dragsters. Faisal al Shamsi, an Air Force pilot, is with the team in California and will be mentored by Fuller in all facets of the sport, Cregan said.
Al Shamsi, 32, won a competition at the Yas Marina drag strip in March to earn the designation as first "student" of the Yas Drag Racing Academy, which Fuller oversees. Fuller, 39, has the credentials to be an excellent role model. The American driver has won seven times in the glamorous Top Fuel category and has been racing in NHRA competitions since 1997. The 2010 NHRA series is made up of 24 events in 22 US cities. The Abu Dhabi/Yas Marina Circuit team made its debut over the weekend at the Infineon Circuit, and will also compete in Denver next weekend as well as at Indianapolis and Charlotte, North Carolina, in September.
Fuller, the 2007 Top Fuel Championship runner-up, manager of Yas Marina Circuit's drag race driver training and the team captain, said: "It feels great to be back behind the wheel at the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. "Drag racing is a contest of acceleration and power, making it exciting to watch and even more exciting to participate in." Among the world's fastest-accelerating machines, 8,000-horsepower Top Fuel dragsters can cover a quarter-mile (402 metres) in less than four seconds at up to 500kph, powered by a supercharged and fuel-injected adaptation of the famed Chrysler Hemi engine, running on nitromethane fuel.
Constructed of chromoly steel tubing and carbon-fibre composite, Top Fuel cars are 7.5 metres long and weigh 1,100kg in race-ready trim. The Yas Drag Racing Centre is the first track outside the US recognised as an NHRA worldwide racing venue. Adjacent to the circuit's Formula 1TM track, the centre has two grandstands with a seating capacity of 5,000 and houses its own race control, hospitality and paddock area.