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Eric Meyer, Eric Meyer for Chevy Racing

John Force's new Funny Car has panels designed to blow up

Because it's not so Funny when your car's body ends up in the crowd or dragging behind the vehicle.

If you consider this Funny Car as "resembling" the street-legal Camaro, please, implore your employer to offer vision benefits.


Despite sounding like a search term your grandparents might put into Google Images, a Funny Car is a legitimate type of drag racer. They're typically characterized by tilt-up bodies meant to (sort of) resemble production cars. Draped over a unique chassis and packing several thousand horsepower, they're a handful. But there are ways to keep 'em in line.

Chevrolet's rolling out a new Funny Car body, based on the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, with National Hot Rod Association driver John Force behind the wheel. Promising about 10,000 horsepower and enough power to accelerate to 330 mph in under 4 seconds, it's a hell of a car.

When things go wrong, as they are wont to do with high-horsepower racers, it's important to keep the air pressure from blasting the body straight off the chassis. To keep the two pieces together, Chevrolet's implementing something it calls "burst panels."

These burst panels function a bit like a rupture disc. They're intentionally weak pieces meant to act as "first responders" to the pressure wave that comes with an explosion. By directing the pressure in certain ways, these parts can prevent bad situations from getting worse, whether it's in military tanks, buildings or Funny Cars. By nature of their construction, rupture discs and the like are one-time-use pieces.

None of this is necessarily earth shattering. In fact, these panels are mandatory on a variety of NHRA racers. But it's a neat little piece of engineering. Building the most robust body possible would only contain the pressure wave. And that would eventually force its way out of...somewhere, probably in an undesirable fashion.