Rocket to the twilight zone

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The Independent Online
Q. I was surprised to read recently that dragsters can reach 300mph in only five seconds. This sounds too fast to be true. Is it correct?

A. If you think Top Fuel dragsters are quick because the best can blast to just over 300mph in just under five seconds [Q&A, 30 April], then think again. Top Fuel cars (Top Fuel is drag racing's Formula One) put their power down through the road wheels, like any normal car. That's their glory and their limitation. There's another class of cars, rocket-powered, which don't have to harness those particular mechanical stresses.

Fastest kid on this block is Sammy Miller, from New Jersey, who hits almost 400mph in less than four seconds. His so-called Funny Car is based on a 1981 Ford Mustang chassis, weighs 1200lb and develops 28,000hp, gulping hydrogen peroxide at 20 gallons per quarter-mile. The result? Sammy's car accelerates faster than a Saturn 5 rocket and has done 0-396mph in 3.58sec, passing 100mph in 0.36sec. He also holds the UK record of 386mph in 3.58sec.

If you want to know what this feels like, here's the opening of a piece by Jeremy Hart from the now-defunct Carweek a year ago: "Every time Slam 'n Sammy twists the boost valve inside the vibrant pink cockpit of his 400mph Funny Car, "Vanishing Point", his heart, liver and kidneys are crushed by the 13g thrust, his ears and nose bleed, and he goes blind. He hovers in a near-death twilight zone..." - John Lilley, Richmond

Q. Who chooses the fixtures on the pools coupons? Why is the GM Vauxhall Conference generally ignored when the "other pools matches" consist of unknown teams such as Rushden & Diamonds, and how does this effect the chances of predicting the results when attempting to study the form of minor teams?

A. I agree that fixtures chosen by the pools companies sometimes seem illogical. But please don't knock the clubs in the minor leagues, who gain valuable coverage. I write, incidentally, as the former Publicity Officer for Atherstone United, currently in the Beazer Homes Premier Division along with the "unknown" Rushden & Diamonds. Why are matches below GM Vauxhall Conference level labelled simply "other pools matches"? - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby

Q. If Blackburn Rovers win the Premiership, will their average home crowd be the lowest ever for champions of England or Scotland?

A. The last time the champions' average gate was less than the current Blackburn average (24,850) was in 1962, when Ipswich won the League with an average of 22,863. Before that, Huddersfield Town won the League between 1924 and 1926 with averages of 17,395, 17,670 and 19,569. Before the First World War, only Newcastle United ever actually beat the Blackburn mark, with 33,253 in 1907 and 29,300 in 1909, and when Rovers last won the title in 1914 their average was only 22,295. In 1889 Preston North End averaged 6,280 while taking the first League title. - Steve Tombs, London SE19

Q. There are 13 professional clubs in London, but the dismal average attendances of Wimbledon and Barnet show that the capital cannot support so many teams. Do any other cities in the world have more than a couple of professional clubs, with the obvious exception of Glasgow?

A. Most teams in the Argentine League are from the capital, Buenos Aires, with one or two notable exceptions. Based there are world famous clubs like River Plate, Boca Juniors (Maradona's old club) and Independiente, but also Velez Sarsfield, Ferrocarilles (as its name suggests, the "railway workers' club"), Gymnasia y Esgrima, Huracan, Argentino Juniors, Chacarita and La Plata (although La Plata is in theory a separate municipality, it is part of the Greater Buenos Aires area).

The exceptions are Rosario Central, the home club of Daniel Pasarella, the former Argentine captain and coach; Newell's Old Boys, another former club of Diego Maradona; and Chaco For Ever. - M McDonald, London SE23


Q. Eric Cantona seems unusual among the sports fraternity in his artistic leanings. Has any professional sportsmen or women enjoyed a career as a painter or sculptor during or after their sporting days? - A Redgrave, London N1

Q. Given that TV companies now count goal attempts during live football matches, does anyone know the record number during a match? - S Frodsham, Swinton

Q. Which football league, anywhere in the world, has the highest number of teams in its First or Premier Division? - Adrian Brodkin, London N2

Q. Why is the 2,000 Guineas so called? - J Coleman, Cheltenham

Q. With Wembley now being used for numerous football finals, which current league teams have never played there? And for those who have been there often, which has the best and worst record? - Nigel Barlow, Romsey, Hampshire

If you know the answers to any of these questions, or have a sporting question of your own you would like answered, write to:

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