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Going down the strip

Depending on the particular venue of your racetrack on race day, you will either be called over the PA system for your class of racing to the staging lanes or if you are racing during a Test n Tune night... you may just be able to hop into the staging lanes whenever you feel the need to make a pass. (Some tracks actually broadcast on a local radio frequency as well)

Once you do get in the staging lanes, as a courtesy to all of the racers behind you, always stay in or near your race vehicle, and move up in the staging lanes as appropriate.

When it finally becomes your turn to race, typically you will end up racing whoever randomly was next to you... I recommend you ignore them altogether and concentrate on what you are trying to do.

Always look at the track officials or starters for instruction, if the previous race had no problems they will simply wave you up. If you are running either Drag Radials or Slicks I recommend you do the following for tire heat-up:

Back into the water (This is not always allowed due to time restraints, some tracks actually make you pull through the water thus getting your front tires wet as well.) Pulling around the water and backing into the water takes more time, but you are not tracking water up to the starting line.

Regardless of what the track is allowing on that day, what works best for me is to get the rear tires wet, then pullout of the water. Now you are on dry pavement with your rear tires wet. If you have an automatic put your car into second gear, and power brake your tires through 1st gear and up to the top of second gear, wait for about 3 seconds, and slowly release the brakes, you should start to hear your tires chirping on the pavement after about 10-15 feet, at this point, let off the gas and slowly brake to a stop short of the lights. The chirping sounds simply means that your tires are hot and sticky right now, thus anymore tire burn out is detrimental at best. I do not do dry hops, I believe it simply wears the top layer of tire which is now hot and ready to take off.

Note: In my opinion, if you are running Nitto drag radials you should keep the tires heated for a full 5 seconds for proper heat-up.

If you are running street radials, I recommend you pull completely around the water and simply power brake your tires in first gear for a second or two to dust them off, at most tracks your tires will pick-up quite a bit of dust and small particles. Though it is never severe with the harder street radials, it can help slightly improve your 60 foot et. (Note:... Never do your tire heat-up burnout past the staging lights, this is frowned upon by most tracks for any car not running in the 9's or quicker.

You now need to inch up to the staging lights. You will notice that the staging light has 2 sets of small twin bulbs on top. then below that they have 3 larger yellow lights vertical, followed by a single big green light. You also see a red light on the side of the tree or below the green.

Your staging goal is to simply light the 2 pairs of smaller twin yellow bulbs. You do this by inching up and hitting the top yellow bulb pair and immediately stop. You are now half staged, but you still have to inch up to set the next pair of small yellow bulbs. Typically the beam distance is exactly 6 inches from the other, so very slowly inch up and just barely set these lights off, and then stop completely. You are now staged and ready to race.... The Starter will wait until both cars are staged, then typically within a few seconds he will start the tree. The top single big yellow bulb will light, followed by the second from top, followed by the bottom yellow light, and then the green light will come on. I recommend you floor it as soon as the bottom large yellow light comes on, thus your reaction time should be fairly reasonable. However, at the time you floor it will vary from car to car, but I will discuss this in more detail later in this section.

At this point you are racing down the track, I recommend you shift your car at the rpm where your HP peak is made, thus your transmission will actually shift a moment or two later, therefore your end result shiftpoint is approximately 300-400 rpm over your peak HP rpm. This will typically give you your best potential et... however, once again this can vary depending on your motor.

The race is for 1320 feet, make sure you keep your throttle buried all the way through the end lights. Typically the track has two sets of lines across the track at the finish line. You want to make sure you accelerate completely through the backline, which represents the end of the 1/4 mile. (The front lines are typically 30-60 feet in front of the finish line, and represent the 1/4 mile MPH timer locations. (2 timers are used, thus the your 1/4 mile mph is calculated based upon how much time it took you to travel through the 2 timers.)

Therefore, once you have accelerated through the 1/4 mile, you can now back out of your throttle and gently come to a stop. I would not brake hard, there is no reason too, the deceleration distance has typically been designed to give enough distance for cars with twice the weight and half the brakes of a corvette, therefore typically you should be stopped long before the turn off road.

The turnoff road will be located anywhere from an 1/8th mile to 1/4 mile beyond the traps, most tracks that I have been at have a single turn-off road exiting to the left, but a few have it to the right. Upon braking for safety concerns, pay attention to the other driver. If you are on the opposite side of the track as the turn off road, make sure you do not turn in front of them to exit... remember Corvettes have excellent brakes, most cars do not, especially the old muscle years. If your opponent finished the race way ahead of you, you may want to pull behind him to show him your intent. Regardless, common sense always prevails... just be aware and logical.

Upon hopping on the turn off road you will typically be doing a U-Turn to head back to the pits, typically half way back somewhere is a ticket booth, simply pull up and grab your ticket from the attendant in a drive-up type method. Don't spend an hour reading over your ticket at the booth, move on and back to the pits where you can study your ticket a little closer. ( Everybody spends a second or two looking at the final et I guess.)

Your ET slip will typically have the following type of information.

 Left lane Right
car# M773M505
60foot time1.7032.150
330 foot time5.0275.855
1/8th et7.8218.875
1/8th mph87.7782.95
1000 foot et10.23311.433
1/4 et12.26013.595
1/4 mph110.72103.95
Left 1st 1.486

In this example you are in the left lane, and you will see the reaction time of .502... this is near perfect (thank you), meaning the driver (me) was only 2 thousands of a second from a perfect light. The lights in southern california are all based on a .500 tree, thus a .500 reaction time is perfect a .499 or less light is a redlight, meaning you went a touch to soon. .502's unfortunately are pretty rare, but when you do get one, savor it.

The reaction time is not part of your et... many new racers think that the reaction time is adding time to their total et... actually your et is started when you broke the beams after your reaction time was accrued. Reaction time importance becomes more important if you are grudge racing a buddy or even more importantly in bracket racing competition. I will discuss the reaction time in more detail later in this section.

The times and mph are pretty self explanatory. They are the actual times and mph you were at as you crossed the beams at each distance. Special emphasis should always be put on your 60 foot time, simply because barring any major modifications that add mph and HP, this is where you will improve your et's. As kind of a rough estimate, typically for ever tenth you knock off your 60 foot time, you will knock off another 1/2 tenth going down the track due to inertia, thus your total reduced et would be .15 improvement on a .10 60 foot improvement. This is rough and varies from car to car, but you get the general idea. As an example, our opponent in the example ran a 2.150 60 foot time, based upon his 13.59 et and mph of almost 104, I would venture to say his car easily had the potential for a 1.95 et even with the stock torque converter, thus as a guestimate, I believe he could have ran approximately a 13.30 or about a 3 tenths gain over his 13.59 (2 tenths plus roughly 1 tenth inertia push)

The 1.486 at the bottom of the timeslip indicates you won the race by a total of 1.486 seconds.... this time does however include the reaction time. Simply put... because the race was on when the lights turned green and our lane had a .158 reaction time advantage plus the actual et advantage equaling 1.486 seconds total, or in other words roughly 14 car lengths based upon the principle that .1 second equals 1 car length. (This is probably off a bit, but not real far off... I believe mathematically you are traveling 16.1 feet per tenth of a second at 110 mph.)

Well you just had a successful race, some people become addicted after this 1st pass, others become a little frigid to racing after the 1st pass.... guess which category I fell into.

The only thing I can think of to add to this most basic drag race...always think safety, watch the track officials at all times for instructions. Do not have Radar Love turned up on your stereo full blast at the line, you should have your stereo turned off in case of further instruction. Also you should have your windows up before doing your tire warmup, your seat belt on and helmet on and strapped up.

If upon acceleration your car makes a strange noise of any sort, or you suspect mechanical problems even in the slightest degree, gently brake to a speed you can easily turn to the side of the track against the wall and stop. This is for safety purposes obviously, but also another very simple reason... If you for example blew a radiator hose you do not want to spread coolant all the way down the track and out through the turn-off road, this will simply mean the track will be shut down for quite a while as the track officials clean your 2000 foot mess. You might get a few dirty looks from the officials, racers and spectators as well. Its a lot easier to clean 100 foot coolant mess than the 2000 foot mess, and it makes for happier track officials too. (They're lazy just like us.... or at least me)

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modified: December 31, 1969 - 7:00 pm

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