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Post Info TOPIC: The Story of the Lethal Fuel Called Hydrazine


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The Story of the Lethal Fuel Called Hydrazine


This was a common scene for engines that ran on hydrazine

It’s the liquid so potent, so deadly, so illegal that those in Drag Racing who have unleashed its wrath dare not speak its name in public. In the pits, even to this day, it’s known simply as H. Hydrazine has been around, and used as an “exciter” for nitromethane for as long as we’ve had Drag Racing. Actually, its use as a racing fuel predates even the Dry Lakes. Hydrazine is rumored to have been used by the Nazi’s as an additive in the Mercedes Formula 1 cars of the pre war era.

Here’s the basics of how it works. Nitromethane is a mono-propellant that carries its own oxygen supply. Hydrazine is an oxygen scavenging agent. When you combine the two…even with just a tiny percent of H in the mixture, you get an unstable fuel that is at war with itself. Insanely dangerous, yes…but internal combustion nirvana of the highest order is a guaranteed result.

Lakes era racers who experimented with H found that a stock 90 horsepower flathead would pump out better than 300 horsepower simply by sucking this stuff through its Stromberg. These same racers also discovered Hydrazine’s major drawback for practical use. After running it through an engine, the carbs would start to cake up with a substance that resembled soap flakes. This nasty little by product was a shock sensitive explosive called the Methazodic Salt of Hydrazinium Acid, and was the result of allowing vapors from the Nitro/Hydrazine mixture to condense in a closed environment. Right, never mind this stuff will throw your crank on the ground after just a couple of runs, but if you happen to tap the carb with a wrench, it’ll blow your face off. Let’s go racing!

Hydrazine had its big moment in the sun back in 1960, during the height of the NHRA fuel ban. Barnstorming Top Fuel racers were all clustered together in the 180 mph range, when out of the blue, at a small track in Alton Illinois, the Greek shoved a big gulp of H down the throat of his Chrysler and ripped off an unheard of 204 MPH pass, boiling the hides and wheelstanding right through the lights.

The Ramchargers were known for experimenting with all sorts of fuel, including hydrazine

Several years later, during the dawn of the Funny Car era, many injected cars were known to brew up a batch in order to keep up with blown Fuelers. Shotgun like exhaust notes, bright green header flames and crewmen frantically draining fuel tanks in the shutdown area were telltale signs that H was in the house.

Even though Hydrazine has been on perma-ban by every sanctioning body that has ever existed, its use in times of extremely tight competition, or when a barrier is on the verge of being broken has continued right up to the modern era. We can remember one nighttime qualifying session back when the 300 mph barrier was about to fall in Funny Car, when one of the cars in contention for the honor made a lap with those freakish header flames dancing up over its roof. It was so obvious that a sudden buzz amongst educated onlookers erupted. Even the announcer that night took note of the unusual site. Officially, it was played off as burning copper from a failed head gasket…but then, the very next pair of cars, there it was again. Eight bright green candles lighting up the nighttime sky, and yet another barrier crushed. Was it really hydrazine at work? Only the guys mixing the fuel that night know for sure.

Yeah, it’s dangerous stuff. Handled improperly hydrazine will kill you in ways you can’t even spell, but its a glorious part of the history and heritage of the thing we call Fuel racing.


I cannot think to leave you now . For that alone I still fight on .

SB Chevy Tech

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A nice little story by an "Old Timer" that ran "H" back in the day: (Back when Top Fuelers were built in home garages)

Drag Racing Story of the Day!
Running with the Big H

By Charlie Gilmore

The year was 1963 and we were headed down to south Jersey to run the '32 Ford highboy roadster fuel altered at the opening day race at Vineland speedway. I had been to Vineland before and I knew the track was different from most drag strips. You had to start from the first turn of the stock car oval and run toward the fourth turn where the track went up the slight banking onto the rest of the quarter mile track

My only experience in driving the fueler was from the night before when we unloaded off the trailer and I took a pass down a narrow back road about 2 miles from my house. Being young and dumb I legged the tire smoking, nitro snorting beast down the two lane blacktop, spun it around and came flying back up the road around the corner and right back up on the trailer. We lashed it down and split before the local farmers figured out where all that noise was coming from.

We arrived at Vineland and after we went through tech we warmed it up on alky, drained the fuel system and poured 85% into the tank. The car was a real beauty, lakes type roadster with and aluminum interior, center steering, and lots of chrome. The engine was a 480 inch Olds with eight 97s on a Dragstar manifold. The engine was shoved back the allowed 25% and was bolted to a LaSalle box and a quick-change rear.

We push toward the starting line while my buddy ran ahead to tell the starter we were coming. On the starter's signal I turned on the fuel shutoff and flipped on the mag. We got up to about 35 mph and I popped the clutch. The chrome plated weed burners ended right ahead of the rear axle and when the engine lit I could feel the exhaust pulses through the aluminum floor. The cackle coming from the roadster caused a flurry of activity as everyone ran toward the track to see this monster run. Nitro cars were few and far between on the East Coast in the early 60s and we were creating quite stir as we idled toward the line. I whacked the load pedal to clear out the carbs and staged the car. The starting system consisted of a traffic light that was at one time standing on a corner somewhere in Vineland and had been requisitioned for more exciting duty.

The starter lined me up on the line, the light went from red to yellow to green, and I punched the throttle and eased out the clutch. The engine noise went way up and tires started smoking. They kept right on smoking until I came to the fourth turn banking. As the car went up the banking and onto the flat part of the rest of the quarter mile the backend went to the left. I eased the throttle back a tad and the car straighten out. I planted my foot and went through the lights at 10 flat at 158 mph. Not fast by today's standards but pretty damn good for 1963. The shutdown area was part of the road course and we had to tow all the way around the road course to get back to the pits. The car owner, Doug Rohdi, was grinning from ear to ear and the rest of the guys were jumping around and backslapping me and I felt ten feet tall and bullet proof. What a thrill.

Doug was still grinning when we got back to the trailer and he ran around to the trunk of the '63 Chevy tow car and whipped it open. After rummaging through piles of dirty clothes left over from the trip up from Texas he produced a pint can that had a skull & cross bones on the front with the words "danger hydrazine." I said, "What's that stuff"? Doug just grinned wider and said, "You'll see"." The Fuel dragster guys use this down in Texas. Bobby Langley sold it to me. He says it'll make this thing fly. You just use a cap full in the tank and give it a shake." I said, "OK, let's give it whirl." Like I said, young and dumb.

We topped off the tank and pushed to the starting line once more. This time Doug opened the trunk just before we got the go ahead from the starter and dumped in the "H." We pushed off, got up oil pressure and fired the motor, Man, I thought it was loud before. This time it sounded like machine gums were going off right under my ass. I pulled to the line and when the light changed I drilled the pedal and the tires erupted into smoke and the car lurched forward. I was in the left lane this time and the transition was not as bad so the car only wiggled a little and I kept my foot in it all the way down. The chute hit a lot harder that time so I knew we were going faster. I was right, 9.52 at 172 mph.

When we got back to the tow car, we were greeted by the officials. It seems they had just remembered that NHRA had a fuel ban on and they thought perhaps we had better not make anymore runs like that last one. We agreed to calm it down but the weatherman decided the issue with a downpour that ended the race day.

Of course, we were all excited on the ride home. You couldn't pry the smile off my face with a tire iron.

Charlie Gilmore


And,  here's a link to "The Greek"  talking about his days running "H"


-- Edited by camaro_fever68 on Friday 30th of September 2011 05:28:16 AM

'68 Camaro Twin Turbo
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