Nitro is the enigmatic fuel of top drag racers, where copious amounts of horsepower can be found – so long as you can keep it under control.
While typically associated with big budgets and demanding engine maintenance requirements, Western Australian racer Brett Baile is pioneering a new type of nitro racing this weekend at Perth Motorplex at the WA Drag Racing Grand Finals event (April 10).
His race car uses an injected nitro engine, which dispenses with the superchargers normally used in association with nitro.
Baile first saw the concept in the USA, and has now brought the idea to Australia, where just a handful of cars run similar combinations.
“The injected nitro cars were so consistent, and maintenance wise it all looked pretty easy,” he said. “Having seen what the injected nitro cars were doing in the NHRA Heritage Series, I thought I could do that with my small block.”
Baile used his existing Altered chassis and updated the gear around his engine to meet the demands of nitro, which can produce twice as much power as using methanol fuel. He made his first passes in the car in February at Perth Motorplex’s Super Sportsman Showdown.
“I had no idea what to expect,” he said. “Would the motor live? Would it rev up under load? Would it drive straight? I think I was shocked when it drove out, and revved up well. It got pretty aggressive when the clutch started to lock up and turned the tyres. It was a great first shake down.
The WA Drag Racing Grand Final this Saturday will be Baile’s last opportunity for the season to test the car. With the estimated 1200 horsepower on board, it should be able to run into the 6sec. zone and even touch the 200mph barrier (321kmh).
“I want to keep it alive, and try not to hurt it too much,” he said. “It still needs to be affordable as I don’t have an unlimited budget. I have been around the sport and know anything can happen to nitro cars.
“We will use the rest of this year and however long it takes, to be in testing and R&D mode. We want to make sure we have something that consistently goes A to B before we attempt to run in the BME WA Nitro Championship. With what I have I don’t think I can compete time-wise with the funny cars and dragsters. But it would be cool just to put something a bit different into the mix.”
Injected nitro remains surprisingly rare in Australia. It seems to be an affordable way to have a lot of fun while burning drag racing’s most famous fuel. With racers like Baile pushing the boundaries, the style may become more popular.
“I just want to encourage people, don’t be afraid to give it a go as there is a lot a help around. I will point anyone in the right direction, and you are forever learning. I have a fair few spares, so I intend on running it for quite some time. The tracks are growing more and more to the idea.”
The WA Drag Racing Grand Finals take place this Saturday, April 10. Qualifying begins from 11am with the feature show from 5.30pm.
Words: Luke Nieuwhof
Pic: High Octane Photos