The NHRA approved the use of the cockpit canopy to enclose the driver's area in top fuel dragsters, and teams can start using the design this weekend at Brainerd.
The concept, originally developed by Don Schumacher Racing, pops open like a hatch when the driver needs to get out, and when in use, is designed to protect drivers from fire and any flying debris. Currently, Top Fuel dragster cockpits have an opening between the windshield and roll bar that leaves the driver's head partially exposed. Tony Schumacher will be the only driver using it at Brainerd.
"We were able to see the finished product yesterday and give our final approval to the Aerodine representatives," said Glen Gray, NHRA vice president of technical operations said in a release. "The product includes a fresh air system, fire bottle, and kick-out panels. The cockpit canopy will be available to any team that wants to use it starting this weekend in Brainerd."
"It's the safest thing anyone can do right now," Schumacher told the Indianapolis Star. "The only disadvantage is there's not much time to run it before (the Countdown to One)."
Conceptual approval for the canopy was given in late July. A competitive concern regarding the canopy was the aerodynamic factor -- instead of hitting the gaps in the current cockpit, it would glance up and over the enclosure. A wicker bill was designed for the top of the canopy -- similar to the wickers that were on Sprint Cup cars 15 or so years ago.