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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 12-26-04, 03:45 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Brisbane
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Drag Racing FAQ's

I thought I should post a sticky to encourage everyone that is interested in modifying their car to have a go at a Drag Racing... Save your license points, determine your vehicles real capabilities and perhaps save a life (maybe even yours) all at the safety of a sanctioned drag strip... Drag racing can provide something for everyone, whether it be novice drivers interested in learning more about cars and friendly competition, drag racers and 'motor-heads' who want technical tips on how to get more speed out of their drag or road cars, or general race and classic car enthusiasts that just like being involved with racing, cars, and like minded people.

It can seem a little daunting at first, most newcomers fall into the category where our knowledge of drag racing involves a race two at a time over a quarter mile distance. That pretty much sums up the basics but you will hear many terms and phrases that can throw you... Hopefully the below list can inform and help you get acquainted with some of the terms and rules you might encounter...

Bracket racing / Dial your Own: - In bracketdrag racing, the driver’s racing skills are the key factor in winning. It is how the car is tuned and driven - and how well the driver knows his/her car - rather than sheer power that is most important. Not only does this make bracket racing more skill orientated, it is consistency and accuracy, rather than speed and quickness that counts. This gives the slower vehicle (slower dial in time) of a race a physical head start, which is programmed electronically into the starting timers. To stop someone nominating a time they can run a lot faster than, thus giving an unfair advantage, a breakout rule is applied.

In bracket racing, it is really you against a clock, because while you are actually competing against the other car, you have to beat him without exceeding your dial in time. This is why the slower car is allowed to leave sooner. This "handicap" is calculated to give both cars an equal chance of winning.A good rule of thumb is to use your best PB as a guide, bearing that at night meets, the cooler night air will usually improve your times over runs done in the heat of day.

Dial-In / Index: At each race, you decide how you car will perform (given the weather, the cars tuning and the track’s con�*dition). You then determine an estimated elapsed time (ET – the time it will take to complete the course) to within one hundredth of a second.

You enter a class or level based on the ability of your car. Each class has a set time limit so you enter the class to which your car is best suited. You then get an official to mark your estimated ET (they use a washable marker like liquid white shoe polish) on the windshield and or side windows of your car. This is known as dialing in.

You are racing between two limits: the lower limit (obviously, the lower the ET the quick�*er the car) set by the class, and the upper limit set by the ET you posted on your wind�*shield

Breakout: - Breakout rules are applied to competitors who run below their posted dial in time during eliminations. Go faster than your dial in time (Index) and you are considered to have lost that race.
The only exceptions to this rule are:
When an opponent red lights or crosses the centre line or boundary lines.
When both drivers are under their index, the driver that is least under is the winner.
If two racers both run under by their index same margin (with elapsed times extended to thousandths of a second), the driver that crosses the finish line first is the winner

Heads up Racing: In heads-up drag racing - speed and power are the be-all and end-all. This is what gets the most TV coverage of in Australia, - the fastest 8 or 16 cars that ran that day during qualifying then race each other, with the winner progressing through the 'rounds' until the final where the fastest car wins.

Eliminations:- After you have tested and tuned your car, qualified you move to the head to head drag races against other competitors, this round by round racing is known as eliminations. You lose you are eliminated from the event and can no longer be in the running for overall honours.

Burnout Pad: This is where you warm up your tyres and perform any burnouts prior to staging. It is a concrete section of the track that the marshals keep wet. Do not do static burnouts on the track. Static (standing still) burnouts on the asphalt damages the bitumen surface, which will bring down the wrath of officials!

Xmas Tree: - The starting device used to begin the race. In simple terms the tree is a set of vertically arranged lights that gives you, the driver a visual countdown to the start of the race.

On the top are the pre stage and stage lights. After the staging lights are 3 amber lights, a green GO light and a red FOUL light. Each light has a .4 second delay. So an ideal reaction time would be .4 seconds. This is known as cutting a perfect light. When the stage light is on, your front tyre is interrupting the stage beam across the track. If that beam is re-opened before the green light comes on, the red FOUL light comes on, and that is known as Red Lighting

Pre Stage: - As you approach the start, there are three sets of photocells in each lane. (The third is N/A to street cars and is designed to register low cars like dragsters etc so we can forget that for now)... The first is the PRE STAGE beam, which controls the top lights on the Xmas tree. At the top of the tree you will see two sets of two lights that look like light bulbs used in your house. When you roll close to the starting line the pre stage lights come on, this does nothing more than let you know you have eight inches to go to the STAGE LIGHT

Stage Light: - The second pair of lights atop the Christmas tree. The race cannot be started until this light is on in both lanes. When both the pre stage and stage lights are on in both lanes it is time to move all your attention to the Christmas tree and get ready to launch your car on the green.

Perfect Light: - A reaction time of .40 of a second is known as a perfect light. Your reaction to the green is spot on, due to the .4 second delay between the lights you cannot possible go any faster than .4 of a second or you ‘red light'

Red Light: - Once you have your vehicle in position, and the stage lights are on, if that beam is re-opened (the staging light goes out) before the green light comes on, the red FOUL light comes on. While this doesn't matter too much at test n tune meetings in racing it means "you lose!"

Elapsed Time (ET): -The finish line also has a series of three photocells. The first is 66 feet before the finish line, the second is on the finish line and the third is 66 ft after the finishing line. The middle light stops the E.T. clocks and provides the elapsed time for the run. The elapsed time is the time between breaking the start beam and the finish beam

Terminal Speed (see also E.T.):- The first (66ft before the line) and third (66ft after the line) beams start and stop the speed traps to measure your speed across the finish.

Time slip:-
  • Both lanes are on one ticket (look for your car number), although they print 2 slips per race you grab the one with your entrant number on it
  • Your Index or Dial in Time (not at Test n Tune meetings)
  • Your Reaction Time
  • Time to get to the 60ft beam (use this to judge your launch or starting technique)
  • ET and speed at half track- 1/8th of a mile or 660ft
  • Your ET and Terminal speed for the ¼ mile
  • Time under or over your dial in time
  • Winning or losing margin to the competitor in the other lane
  • Ambient temperature, Humidity, Barometric pressure and Track temperature

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