Drag Race Dilemma

Nov 03, 2001

RAY: This may come as a shock to many of you, but a few months ago, Tommy and I each went out and bought identical sports cars because we like to drag race. At the same time, we also went out and bought cell phones.

TOM: If you can't beat them, join them. I got it.

RAY: Right. We're going to drive like nuts and we're going to talk on the cell phone.

Well, one day -- the hottest day of last summer in fact -- I'm driving along in my new sports car and I come to a traffic light. I've got the windows up, the air conditioning on and the stereo turned up full blast...and who should pull up next to me? Tommy. He's a hot weather freak, so he doesn't have the AC on. In fact, he's got all the windows open, the sun roof open, and the stereo playing full blast.

I call him on the cell phone and say, "You want to drag race to the next light?" He says, "Of course!" The light turns green, we both floor it.

Now, assuming that the cars and our driving skills are identical, the question is: Who wins the race and why?

Answer: 

RAY: You might think that Tommy wins the race.

TOM: Why would I think that?

RAY: Because I've got the A/C on, and that's robbing power from the engine.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: And even though he has the windows open and the sun roof open, we're both playing the stereos full blast. That loss of power getting to the wheels because the air conditioner is on is going to mean the difference in the race.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: But, I have my windows closed...why? Because I'm not a knucklehead --

TOM: You've got the A/C on.

RAY: ...And I've got the A/C on. You wouldn't have the windows closed if the A/C weren't on. And more than that, here's the little piece that's missing: Most cars have built into their circuitry a throttle position switch which lets the computer shut the air conditioner off when you floor the gas pedal. So, when I floor the gas pedal, not only do I have the advantage of having the sleek aerodynamics of the closed windows, but I also have the air conditioner off, just like Tommy, who thinks he's going to win. But he loses because he's a knucklehead. So --

TOM: Well, since you've changed it.

RAY: Changed what?

TOM: You made the next traffic light be a mile away. That's not a drag race. The next traffic light is a block away, in which case I would have said it would make no difference whatsoever. There wasn't enough time for anything to make any difference. But, I'm going to give it to you anyway.

RAY: All right...anyway, do we have a winner.

TOM: Yeah, we've got a winner. It's a bogus one.

RAY: Boy, sour grapes.

TOM: I knew when you said this puzzler last week that we were going to fight. Because I knew exactly where you were going --

RAY: All right, that's it. From now on, you do the puzzler.

TOM: Our winner is Judy Wilson from Bradenton, Florida.

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