I knew it was going to be loud. I’d been told time and time again how loud it would be. I watched the videos. I brought my ear plugs.
I still couldn’t believe it when it happened.
You *have* to see a top fuel dragster before you die. They’re surreal. The lights change. Hades is unleashed. And then, four seconds later, they’re a quarter of a mile away doing three hundred miles an hour and the crowd erupts in nervous laughter.
I still can’t quite believe it. I’ve watched my video back twenty times. One moment these two spindly little things are on the start line, the next they’ve pinged down the runway like a cat that’s trodden on a red-hot hedgehog. It’s *impossible*. Nothing can accelerate that fast. Certainly nothing with a man in it, that’s being propelled by the *friction of the rear tyres* against the tarmac. It just cannot be possible. Let me watch it one more time. It must be CGI. I can’t have remembered it right.
And the *noise*. Holy mother of volcano juice, the NOISE. I’ve never heard anything like it. I have ear plugs in and I’m 50 feet away, and STILL it’s physically painful. Genuinely, I’m not exaggerating, it HURTS. And it all happens so suddenly. You know exactly when it’s going to happen because the lights have just changed, but still, EVERY TIME, it still scares the shit out of you because it’s so loud and so sudden. And the sheer ferocity of the noise completely short-circuits your brain. During those tiny seconds, no other thought is capable of passing through your head. It’s as if the noise pushes them out. That’s not what’s happening, is it?
Anyway, it’s loud. You get it. But I guarantee it’ll still take you by surprise. And they do THREE HUNDRED miles an hour. In less time than it takes to say, “which one’s the parachute button again?” Gobsmacking.
Give it a go if you get the chance, Santa Pod is not far from Silverstone and it’s pretty cheap (£25 to entry to the European Finals plus £7 if you want a grandstand seat). You won’t want to go more than once a year because, after all, it’s just the same quarter-mile over and over again, but it’s definitely something you want to experience once.
Oh, and allow a *LOT* of time to leave. When I got back to the car I sat in it for half an hour and could still see the same cars in front of me – they’d moved about 30 feet. So I got out and had a wander around the paddock for an hour or so. The drag strip had emptied by then (everybody was parked in the exit queue!) so I had a little mosey onto the hallowed tarmac. It’s so sticky! Imagine if you spilled honey on your kitchen floor and didn’t clean it up. It’s like that, but more so. Your foot makes a squitch noise whenever you haul it off the floor. Car manufacturers should do their 0-60 timings down here.