When it comes to horsepower—blown, nitro-swilling Top Fuel engines aside—I've generally been a fan of naturally aspirated, non-power-assisted engines. To me there is just something cool about horsepower that falls into the old adage, "there's no replacement for displacement." I can't help but appreciate the engine gurus who use their engineering skills and experience to bore and stroke and port their way to copious amounts of power. I once believed that power-adders were merely a too easy way to lower e.t.'s—almost like cheating. Well, that was before I got my first hit of nitrous.
Release the Hounds!
Now, I don't consider myself to have an addictive personality (the number of cars owned doesn't count, does it?), but the first time "the juice" kicked in at wide open throttle and threw my ass back in the seat, I was sucked in. Talk about being blown away! I had no idea the rush one could get from just 100 extra horsepower. I was hooked. I needed more.
I know there are a lot of you guys who have been "juicing" for a long time and deal with your nitrous addiction by either banning yourself from the stuff completely or becoming a hopeless junkie and have built a tolerance for a larger hit; say in the 200hp range? Or maybe you've gone as far as a 400 shot delivered in a multi-stage application. And for those of you yet to take that first hit—don't judge. You have no say until you've given it a shot (no pun intended).
Like all over-the-counter "mood enhancers," it's very important you remain in control and mindful of a possible overdose. You must abide by the laws of physics and take some necessary precautions before you experiment with larger doses. For example, that "trusty" 10-bolt you have back there now. That won't last. Your stock clutch, say good-bye to that slipping disc. And while you're at it, look into a stronger driveshaft. Trust me on that. I've twisted up one of those like a string of angel-hair pasta—and that was without nitrous. Drag radials and a nicely prepped track took car of that.
Those street-wise racers who have taken the obvious precautions and developed a high tolerance to nitrous most certainly are on their way to shots of 200, 400, and even larger. But to the less experienced, those amounts can be lethal. Be careful! I'm not going to pretend to be an expert and offer Dr. Drew, Dr. Phil, or even Dr. Seuss-sort of advice, but I will say, detonation is your absolute, number-one enemy. The end result of your reckless behavior could be catastrophic to say the least. You don't want to be the guy who causes an hour of downtime at the dragstrip. Heck, no one wants to clean up that mess, and I'm sure you don't want to get into the cost of a new engine.
So I'll go ahead and say it right here; I, Nick Licata, am addicted to nitrous oxide, but I'm totally under control and can stop any time. So, go ahead and talk behind my back, that's your prerogative. I mean, it's not like I'm to the point of retarding the timing and bumping up to a 250 shot ... well not yet, anyway.
p.s. Nitrous on a road course ... Yep. I've done that, too.