A European Top Alcohol dragster staging a burnout.
Top Alcohol dragsters are akin to 'junior' versions of the premier Top Fuel dragster class. They are required to burn a lower-performance mixture of alcohol fuel (generally methanol) instead of more volatile nitromethane. Engine sizes cannot exceed 8.7 L (531 in3). Nitromethane-burning entries may also race in this category, but are not allowed to use superchargers. Ethanol is also occasionally used as a substitute for methanol as it is less corrosive and toxic. Top Alcohol was devised in the 1970s as a replacement for the Top Gas class which was similer but burnt Gasoline instead of alcohol fuel. Initially dragsters would compete against Funny cars in a category known as Pro Comp before a separate class of Top Alcohol Funny Cars was created in the 1980s. It was within the IHRA's version of this class that the use of ethanol fuel was pioneered with great success by Mark Thomas, an Ohio farmer who became a five-time champion within that organization ( index.html) . Despite this fact ethanol has failed to capture the imagination of racers, the majority of whom opt for methanol instead. Today both the Top Alcohol Dragster class and the Top Alcohol Funny Car class compete in NHRA drag racing, however they are not seen as professional but are classed as sportsman. The Top Alcohol classes also compete outside of North American, most notablely in Australia and Europe.