Ladies & Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

Drag Racing

Most of you are probably familiar with drag racing. Two drivers meet on some deserted street, they line up side by side, they rev their engines, a hot babe drops her colorful scarf, they take off and the first car to the finish line wins. Thatís basically what we do, except we have electronic lights that start the race and we do it legally at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway drag strip. We also give the slower car of the pair a head start. You get to decide how much of a head start you need, if any, but if you give yourself too much of a head start, you get eliminated. We race for a quarter mile and itís called Bracket Racing or Handicap Racing.

Thatís the general idea. Now Iíll give you the correct terms, tell you what you need and how itís all put together.

Terms
Dial-In Time
= the time you think it will take for your car to go a quarter mile from a complete stop. This number is used by the Tower to figure out who gets the head start and by how much.

Tower
= the guys in the control tower. They control the computer that controls the start lights and timers. They also decide how many time trials we get. We give them pizza so they will be kind to us.
Time Trials
= practice runs or trial runs.
Break Out
= what happens if you go faster than your dial-in time. If the other car doesn't break out by more, it means you don't win.
Reaction Time (RT)
= the time between your light turning green and your front wheel (or spoiler if it's really low) crossing the start line. Zero is a perfect RT.
Red Light
= A negative reaction time means you Red Lighted. LB3A means "left before 3rd amber" - or you really jumped the gun! The red light on your Christmas tree lights up and you don't win.
Christmas Tree (or Tree)
= the start light. For bracket racing, you get three yellow lights, then a green. There is a half second (.5) between each light. (The pros get one yellow, then a green.)
Staging
= positioning your car at the start line with the front wheels (or spoiler if it's really low) exactly where you want them. This is important in reducing your RT without red lighting.
Elapsed Time (ET) = The time it takes for your front wheels (or spoiler...) to go from the start line to the finish line.

What you need
1. Helmet - Technically, you don't have to wear a helmet unless you go 13.99 or faster or have a convertible, but those in our club who go slower usually wear helmets anyway.
2. Long pants - No shorts or skirts.
3. Sleeved shirt - Short sleeves are ok, but no tank, sleeveless or bikini tops. I recommend a loose fitting shirt in the summer as it can be quite hot when we first arrive. One option is to wear a tank top and have a short or long sleeved shirt to slip on right before you race.
4. Closed toed shoes - No sandals or flip flops.
5. A Corvette in good working condition with good tires. If it is a convertible, you need to have the top up/on. Rag tops are OK. Coupes going 11.99 or faster and convertibles going 13.99 or faster need a roll bar.
6. Drinking water. Never go anywhere in the desert without drinking water.
7. A hat (or umbrella) to protect you from the sun, sun block, a towel or bandana to moisten to keep cool if you are racing in the summer.
8. A jacket if you are racing in the spring or fall.
9. Food. You will be out there all afternoon and evening and will surely want something to eat. There is a concession stand at the track under the stands. They serve hamburgers, hotdogs, nachos, etc. and drinks. Or you can bring your own food. Beer is allowed, but only after you're done racing.
10. A good night's sleep - These are one of the few races you don't (usually) have to get up early for. They usually start in the afternoon or evening. (Once in a while, in the spring or fall, we have a morning start.) But because they start later, you will be up later. How late depends on how many other cars are racing. There are other drag series and pros out there with their cars. If someone leaks fluids on the track, it takes a while for them to clean it up. If you make it to the final round or stick around to watch the rest of our club's runs, it could be as late at 1 a.m. or even later before you leave the Speedway.
11. White chalk stuff to write numbers on your car windows. Other members will have that for you to borrow. No need to rush out and buy that for your first event. You can sometimes buy some from the tech guys or elsewhere at the Speedway or you can get it at Checker Auto and other auto stores. You can use white shoe polish, but the chalk is easier to clean off. I usually bring some microfiber towels and quick detailer, but paper towels and glass cleaner will also work, to erase the numbers. You can change your dial-in number between elimination runs, and you may want to clean up your car before you drive home. (Although, you can get young dudes in pick-up trucks grinning and giving you a thumbs up if you're seen driving around town with your car number and dial-in time on your windows. They know what you've been up to!)
12. Gas. You don't know how many practice runs you'll get or how long you'll be idling while awaiting your turn, so you do want to have some gas. Usually, a half tank is plenty. But a lighter car is a faster car so if you want to go faster, less gas is better. I usually shoot for between an 1/8th tank and a 1/4 tank. There is a gas station at the truck stop nearby so you won't have far to go to gas up before you go home if necessary. (Although it's possible that a full tank helps with traction...)
13. An ink pen to fill out your tech form.
14. Unless you have really good eyesight, a flashlight and a magnifying glass or reading glasses. The timing slips are hard to read under the street lamps after it gets dark. Sometimes I use my headlights as a flashlight.


1. Cathy, Holly and Kathy are dressed for comfort and safety.
Of course, Cathy and Kathy will need to slip on a short or long sleeved shirt before racing.

What you do when you get to the Drag Strip
Find out when the trial runs will start. Contact the year's drag leader and get on the e-mail list for updates, check the flyer, check the VegasVettes website or call the event host. Get yourself to the Strip at the Speedway (not to be confused with The Strip with all the big casinos!) before that time. Our club usually start our trial runs before the rest of the cars. For example, the gates and tech open at 3 p.m., our time trials start at 4:30 pm, eliminations start at 8 pm. In this case, you want to get there no later than 4 pm. so you'll be ready to go by 4:30. You want to make sure you're ready when the time trials start so you can get in as many practice runs as possible. In the summer, we usually start later in the evening.

Go to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway web site - http://www.lvms.com - and click on "Directions" at the bottom. This will bring up a page with directions to the Speedway. Scroll down the page and click on the LVMS Facility Map. See where it says "Handicapped Parking?"; That's our pit and staging area. The Strip is that long double thing to the right of that area. You'll take the Speedway exit from I-15, then drive straight down Speedway Boulevard to where you can turn in to the left before the Strip. They've recently added some killer speed bumps, so watch your speed after you leave the Interstate.


2. Look for this building and park across the street from it.

Park across from the little building at the entrance to the parking lot. This is where you register. You will have to pay their fee of $40 (subject to change) and sign a waiver. They will assign you a car number (usually a C then a number) and give you a wristband, a tech form with your car number on it, and ticket to get in. You can also pick up a schedule of events. Drive on into the parking lot, hand your ticket to the ticket taker, then look for the Tech Inspection station. It will be at the entrance to the staging area. If you're not sure where it is, find another Corvette who is arriving and follow them.

You will be driving through the pits where the pros have their trailers set up. Be very careful when driving through the pits. People are walking around, riding bicycles and scooters, and not paying attention to cars driving around. You will be looking around for the Tech station and at all the activity in the pits, but watch where you are going at all times! And there will be other cars driving around, too, not paying attention to other traffic. Drive slow. Save the speed for the drag strip.


3. Pro Pits with mountains in background.

The Tech Inspection
There is usually a little trailer with a sign that says, "Tech,";but just look for cars lined up. The cars at the head of the line will have their hoods up. Go ahead and get in line. While you are waiting, before it's your turn, you need to fill in your name, address and car info on the tech form and sign it at the bottom. Write your car number with your white liquid chalk on your car. You will need to put it on the back window driver's side and the windshield passenger side. You can also put it at the top of the driver's window, but that doesn't last long when you open your window! When you get to the head of the line, you can leave your engine running if you want, hop out, open your hood and give the tech person your tech form. The tech inspectors will then do a safety check. They make sure nothing is leaking, your battery isn't loose, your tires have tread, your seatbelts work, stuff like that. But sometimes to don't check too closely on a stock street car. They also check your helmet, so have that handy. When they're done, they'll put a sticker on the top windshield driver's side so everyone will know your car has been teched.

The Grid
After you tech, if you're early and you see other Corvettes parked in the pit area, go join them. Check the schedule to see when our Time Trials start. It may be different than the flyer. If you have a cooler or other stuff you don't want in the car when you race, you can leave them in the pit area. Look for one of our club members with a clipboard, sign our own club waiver and pay the club event fee, if there is one.

The announcements that you hear over the loudspeaker are also broadcast over a radio station. It's 103.9 FM.

It doesn't matter what order the cars are in for now. These are just practice runs to figure out how fast your car runs, practice shifting and practice your reaction time, or "cutting the light." The more practice runs you can get, the better.


4. Lined up and waiting to go.

5. Lined up looking toward the Strip. The light on the far right above the palm tree is the almost full moon.

Race Procedure
There will be a race official at the head of the lanes telling folks when they can move up. You don't have to have your helmet on yet (if it's hot, you won't want it on!), but you should have it handy. If you have a C5, you should put it in Competitive Mode by holding down the Active Handling button for more than 5 seconds. Competitive Mode lets you control any tire spinning yourself when you take off, but will kick in the Active Handling if you start to go sideways.

You can still have your A/C on at this point, too, but keep an eye on your coolant temperature. You want your engine to be as cool as possible.;It doesn't matter who you run against or which lane you go in. Some racers prefer one lane to the other. I recommend doing at least one practice run in each lane to get the feel for each one. When you get closer, but before you pull up to the start line, get your helmet on and turn your A/C off. OK, you've got your helmet on, your A/C off, now you have to roll your windows up! Don't worry, you only have to be hot for about 10-15 seconds!


6. Ken and Blue ready for their final elimination run.
We'll be referring to this picture again later, but for now, note the water in the foreground.

The Water Box
The water that the track workers squirt on the track just before the start line is for the cars with racing tires. If you have street tires you will want to go around the water box. The cars with race tires, also known as slicks, will be doing burnouts, using the water to help break traction, to warm up their tires. The cars with street tires don't need to do that. (Although, some folks with street tires like to warm them up, too. It helps you not spin when you take off. Of course, it also wears out the tires faster. Your call.)

Staging
Watch the track personnel working at the start line and do anything they tell you to do. After the car ahead of you goes, it's your turn. The track workers will signal you to move up. Ease up to the starting line while you watch your tree.


There are two columns of lights on the tree; one for each lane.


7a. There are beams coming out of these holes which are broken when your tire crosses their path.
Hole 1 contains the Pre-Stage beam, Hole 2 contains the Stage beam. Hole 3 is the Guard Beam.

7b. This is a detail from the photo above.; Check this out...you can see the beam in the far left hole!

Move forward slowly until your front tire breaks the Pre-Stage beam and your Pre-Stage light comes on. Take your time. Don't worry; they won't start the race until both cars are staged. Continue easing forward gently until your front tire breaks the Stage beam and the Stage light comes on and then stop immediately. (Check out the tree in photo #6, above, and photo #8 below. They both have the Stage lights lit.) Doing this consistently every time will help your reaction time. If you roll too far forward, your tire will clear the first beam and the Pre-Stage light will turn off. You can do this on purpose, but if that happens and you didn't want it to, make eye contact with the starting personnel to see if they want you to back up and re-stage, but keep an eye on the tree at the same time. They may go ahead and start you. You don't want to be caught with your car in reverse when the green light comes on! Once both cars are staged, the Tower will start the tree. Sometimes you have a second after you stage before they hit the Go button, but sometimes they start it immediately, so be ready. Since this is a practice run, both trees will go at the same time. After your tire clears the Stage beam, your Reaction Time timer stops and your Elapsed Time timer starts. The Guard beam is to prevent cars from having anything hanging low enough that the Stage beam doesn't clear until the back tire or back end of the car clears it. If this were to happen without the Guard beam, the driver would have start moving early to avoid a lousy RT, but would have a very fast ET. With the Guard beam, they get disqualified.


8a. Here's a photo so you can see where the staging box is in relation to the tree.
Yes, those are actual dragsters that we let use our drag strip while our cars are cooling down between runs.

After you stage, if you have an automatic transmission, you will want to have your car in Drive, your left foot firmly on the brake and your right foot on the gas. Rev your engine up to about 1,000 rpm, or until you feel your car just wanting to take off. If you have a manual transmission, make sure you have come to a complete stop, then keep the clutch fully depressed and rev the gas. Your car shouldn't roll forward or back because you're on level ground, but you can use your parking brake if you want. Sometimes it's windy enough to make a car roll and it only needs to roll a tiny bit to break the beam. Revving your engine will help keep your tires from spinning when you take off. After all, if your back wheels are spinning, you aren't going forward very fast!

The Christmas tree will flash three yellow lights one at a time starting from the top, then the green - Yellow, Yellow, Yellow, Green. There is .5 seconds (a half of a second) between the last yellow and the green. It will take you that long to push the gas pedal down and for your car to react. So when the third yellow light comes on - GO! That is, push the gas pedal all the way down and let up on the brake/clutch (and release parking brake if used), all at the same time. If you wait until the green light comes on to push the gas pedal down, you will have a slow reaction time. But if you hit it on the last yellow, you should have a good RT. If you staged too deeply, or deeper than usual, you will want to hit the gas a bit later than usual. If you go too soon, the red light will come on. If you see the red light come on, don't stop. Go ahead and race. You will still get your times for this run. You'll have to experiment and figure out what works best for you. After you get some practice, you may start noticing if you are "going" when the last yellow light starts to come on or when it's full on or when it starts to fade off. Remember what you did, compare that with your RT and adjust by either changing when you "go" or staging deeper or shallower until you find the best combination.

Click on the photo below for a short video of the start. The right lane is already staged, both yellow lights are on. Watch as Ken, in the left lane, pulls up and lights the two staging lights. If you look carefully, you can see his car rear up as he hits the gas right before the green light flashes, but he does not red light. In fact, as you move down the track, you can see his reaction time posted on the sign on the left. "000" is a perfect reaction time! Watch it a few times to get a feel for the timing of the lights.


Video 1

When your car starts forward, the front tires will break the start beam (Number 3 in the picture #7 above). When this happens, your elapsed timer starts. (At some drag strips, the elapsed timer starts when the front tire clears the Stage (Number 2) beam.)

What to do between the start light and the finish line - When your light turns green, what you do depends on what kind of Corvette you're driving. If you have an older, lower powered Corvette, you can just push the gas pedal all the way down. But it's more likely that you will have to feather the gas pedal. If you put it down too fast, your tires will spin. This is one of the challenges in drag racing; figuring out exactly how fast you should push the gas pedal down to maximize acceleration and minimize spinning. Once you're under way, for automatic transmissions, keep the gas pedal all the way down and keep the car pointed straight ahead. If you have a manual transmission, you will need to shift a couple of times just before red lining for maximum acceleration. You are accelerating quickly and should be going between 80 and 140 mph at the quarter mile mark, depending on your car. Don't make any sudden moves. Don't jerk the steering wheel. Be very alert to any fishtailing and adjust gently immediately. If it starts to fishtail too much, ease up on the gas. Just go straight. And enjoy the ride. Hear your engine roar. Feel the G's push you back into your seat. Feel the thrill of driving your Corvette!

For manual transmission cars, you will start out in first gear and shift a couple of times, depending on your car. A stock C5 coupe or convertible will most likely redline right at the finish line in third gear. It's the driver's call whether to shift to 4th or not. A stock C5 Z06 will definitely need to be shifted to 4th before the finish. Just watch your tachometer and shift before it hits the red line.

Club member Imre adds, "If you happen to go over the redline limit for some reason you'll hear the engine stutter - this is normal, this is the rev limiter at work. If this happens, cut back on the gas or shift into fourth. Also, owners of manual transmissions should remember NEVER TO FORCE THE SHIFTER INTO GEAR! You are much better off losing a few tenths of a seconds due to a mis-shift than going to the shop to get your transmission fixed!"

Here's what it looks like from the stands. Mike is on the left and Cathy is on the right. Mike does a burnout because he's using drag slicks and gets a head start because he has a slower car.


Video 2

Can you tell who won? Actually, you can't tell from this video. Here's a still of the finish line.


8b.


Does it look like Cathy in the right lane is ahead? She is! But she didn't win, she broke out. She went too fast. Mike won 1st place that day and 1st place for the 2010 Drag Race Series.

After the finish line - When you pass the finish line, a couple of things happen. The computer fills in the sign that you can see in pictures #6 above and #9 below, with your time and speed. But you can't see it yourself, because it is at the finish line, and now you are past it. There are little lights on both sides on the track past the finish line. The winning side's light lights up. Of course, right now, we're just doing practice runs so there isn't really a "winner" yet, but you will see the light on the side that crosses the finish line first. (You can't see them in photo #9, because the left side won and the light is behind that concrete barrier along the track.)

After you pass the finish line, the quarter mile mark, you can start slowing down. There are two little yellow boxes between the lanes at the finish.; The second box is at the finish line, but if you don't notice it, when you start up the hill at the end of the track, you'll know for sure you're past the finish. (See photo #9 below.) Don't let up on the gas until you're sure you are past the finish line. You don't have to slam on your brakes; you have plenty of time to slow down. Just drive normally on down to the end of the track.

There is a fire truck at the end with firemen and some track workers sitting there. (It's that yellow truck in the photo below.) Drive up to where they are and then make a left turn to the return lane, which comes back past the stands. After you make the turn, you are no longer on the drag strip. You can open your windows, turn your A/C on, take your helmet off, whatever. And watch your speed. It should take you longer to get back than it took to get down there! 30 or 35 mph is plenty. Wave at our people who are watching when you go by. Pull up to the timing booth and take your timing slip from the person in the booth.;(See picture #10 below.) NOTE: The timing booth is now early in the return lane, but remember to slow way down when exiting the track area as there are usually people walking around here. Hang on to all of these. They will be important when you figure out your dial-in time for the elimination runs later. Return to the Corvette lanes in the grid or to where everyone else is parked in the pit area. Notice your coolant temperature. If it's hot, you will want to open your hood to help your engine cool off faster. A cool engine is a fast engine! If you're hot lapping, leave your helmet on, go back and get in line for another run.


9. Here I am coming up the return lane. There's another pair of cars racing down the drag strip on the right, going away from us. The sign shows the elapsed time and the speed at the finish for the car in the left lane that has just passed the finish line. There is another sign like this on the right side, but you can't see it in this photo. There is a row of lights at the top of this sign that light up on the winner's side. In this case, the left car won.

10. From the grid area.

What the timing slip means - The timing slip tells you how you did. It has the track info, date and time at the top. Then there are two columns, LEFT and RIGHT. The first thing in the list is your Car #. Next is Class, which may be "COR" or "VETTE" for Corvette, or it may be blank. Next is DIAL which is your dial-in time. It will be blank for the practice runs. R/T, for Reaction Time, is next and you want to check this out. Remember, 000 is a perfect Reaction Time. A negative number means you red lighted. (Remember what the timing felt like when hitting the gas when the lights turned yellow and green and compare that with your R/T and adjust accordingly.) The next few items are your elapsed times (ET) at certain intervals - 60', 330', 1/8 mile; your speed in MPH at 1/8 mile, and your ET at 1000'. The remaining two lines are the the 1/4 mile elapsed time and 1/4 mile speed in MPH. (The 1/4 mile ET is important. You will use that info later to figure out your dial-in time.) Below all that, there is a line that says which lane won and by how much. The "how much" is a combination of reaction time and elapsed time (more on that later). Again, this doesn't mean anything right now, since we're only practicing.

We usually get 2 practice runs, but sometimes more. There are cars in the other eight lanes that are racing, too, and we have to wait for them to do their practice runs. They will usually call our club to the grid over the loudspeaker, so keep an ear our for that, but sometimes it's hard to hear with all the revving engines. Keep an eye on the cars in the other lanes so you know when you need to get back to your car for your next run. You can get a snack at the concession stand, check out the view from the stands and study the timing of the lights. When you are walking to and from the grid and grandstand area, watch out for race cars. When you're walking through the grid, watch out for racers returning to their lane or leaving their lane. When you cross the return road, watch for racers returning to the grid. They have racing on their minds. They are thinking about how they are going to do or how they just did.; They aren't paying attention to people. So you should watch out for them.

Time to race
OK, you've got all the time trials in that there is time for. Now it's time for the elimination rounds. Two things will happen before your first elimination run. The drag series chairperson will draw numbers to determine the running pairs. If there are an odd number of racers, the best RT in the last practice run gets to race by herself, or be the By. That's an advantage, because it guarantees you make it to the second round. Even if you red light or break out, you still don't loose. Of the other pairs, the winners go on to the next round. Listen to the drag series chairperson to find out how to determine lane preference. Usually the best RT of the last run gets lane choice.

The second thing that will happen is you will write your dial-in time on your car near your car number so the Tower can see it as you approach the start line.

How to figure out your dial-in time
Here's the hard part - trying to guess what you're going to do in the elimination run. Look at your 1/4 mile times on your timing slips from your practice runs. Were all your times close to each other?;Has your car been getting faster? Slower? What was your fastest time? The idea is to pick a time that you can either match or come really close to without beating. Sometimes your car runs slower later in the evening and sometimes it runs faster. You have to guess if you will get off the line faster or slower. There's a lot to take into consideration. You'll have plenty of time before you race to compare notes with fellow racers. My advice? Ask questions, listen to what everyone tells you, then pick a time that feels right to you; go with your gut instinct. Write your dial-in time on your car underneath your car number in both places with the liquid chalk. You can change this number between runs if you want to.


11. Hanging out in the grid and comparing notes.

As you drive past the Tower on the way to the start line, the Tower personnel will enter your dial-in time into the computer. The computer will give the car with the larger (slower) dial-in time a head start corresponding to how much bigger (slower) the number is.; That head start should even out the playing field so that, assuming equal RTs, the first car to cross the finish line wins.

After the pair of cars ahead of you go, as you move up into position, make sure your correct dial-in time is on the display on your side of the track.;(See photo #12.) If not, don't stage and tell the starting personnel. This is very important and the computer (certainly not the Tower personnel!) does mess up sometimes. If they have the wrong number in the computer, you will most likely not win. You'll either break out or be behind. The red LED readout will update before the light sign further down the track, because the previous pair may still be racing. But both should be correct before you stage.


12. The dial-in times on the two computer readouts should match the dial-in time on your car.

So now you're at the starting line and both cars are staged. Remember that the slower car will get the head start. If you are the slower car, you will get to go first and try to stay ahead. If you are the faster car, the other car will go first, and you get to try to catch and pass them (run them down!). The head start may only be a fraction of a second. Here is where it is very important to DRIVE YOUR OWN RACE. Ignore the other car. Don't pay any attention to their light tree. Only pay attention to your own light tree. Put the other car and tree completely out of your mind and focus completely on your own car and tree.


13. The track has added a divider to the tree so now the only parts of your opponent's tree that you can see are their staging lights and their red light. This is side view of the tree. You can see there is another set of lights on the back so the fans in the stands can see the lights, too.

14. That's me in the left lane getting a head start over Pat's faster C5 in the right lane.

If your race is really close and you can't tell who crossed the finish line first, look for the light on your side. If you miss it, then you can find out who won when you get your timing slip. It will have the word "WIN" and an arrow pointing to the 1/4 mile time for the lane that won. Down below it will tell you which lane won, Left or Right, and by how much. Note that the timing slip now has the DIAL line filled in. The "how much" is figured out by subtracting the dial-in time from the elapsed time for each side, then add the R/T. The person with the smallest 'score' wins. Then those amounts from both sides are subtracted to get the difference.;Here's an example.

Math Time. During a previous drag race, my opponent in the Left lane had a DIAL of 14.10, an R/T of .280, and a 1/4 mile time of 14.231.
I had a DIAL of 14.44, an R/T of .294, and a 1/4 mile time of 14.478. OK, first of all, these are not great reaction times. Not too bad, but not good enough. You should try to do better. Subtract the DIAL from the 1/4 mile time for both sides, then add the R/T.

Left :;;14.231 - 14.10 = 0.131 + .280 = .411
Right: 14.478 - 14.44 = 0.038 + .294 = .332; << winner

Now subtract these two results to find out how far apart we were at the finish.

.411 - .332 = 0.079

(You never know where you will end up doing math. The next time your child complains that they hate math and don't want to do their homework, tell them that they need to learn math; they may want to be a drag racer when they grow up! BTW, this isn't the only time you will see math in this series of articles!)

Anyway, .079 seconds.; That's how much I won by.; The timing slip says .0795, so the computer apparently takes the numbers out more places than what is shown on the slip. A very close and exciting race!

If one racer red lights, she loses. If both racers red light, the one who jumps the gun first loses. If one racer breaks out, she loses. If both racers break out, the one who breaks out the most loses. If one racer red lights and the other breaks out, the red light loses. If neither red lights nor breaks out, then the formula above will determine the winner. (Be sure to check the VegasVettes.com website for Racer's Edge rules. They may be a little different.)

That's all there is to it. Who ever wins the first run is then matched up with one of the remaining racers. As racers get eliminated, they usually join the fans in the stands and cheer on the rest of the racers and tell each other about their runs. If you get a great reaction time or dial-in, feel free to let the other racers know. They may not have noticed and we definitely want to hear about each other's successes!

Track etiquette
If your car has a mechanical problem while doing a run, pull over to the side right away. If you leak oil or coolant or any fluid all the way down the drag strip, everyone will be unhappy with you. It takes quite a while to clean up a whole quarter mile of track. If you suddenly loose power, you see smoke or anything like that, just pull to the side and wait for track workers to come to you.

Courtesy staging
After the first staging light is lit, there is a time limit for both cars to get completely staged. Courtesy staging is when the first car who lights up her pre-stage light waits for the other car to light up their pre-stage light. Then both proceed to finish staging together.

How can you go faster?
Those are pretty much the basics. Remember that we are bracket racing and it's who is the most consistent, not about who has the fastest car. But there are a few easy things you can do to make your car go a little faster, if you want. Generally, to make a car go faster, you want a lighter, streamlined car with a more powerful engine. You can make your car lighter by removing anything in it you don't need, including extra gas. I plan ahead and make sure I don't fill my tank a few days before a drag race. I shoot for having between a half and a quarter tank.;There's a gas station at the I-15 Speedway exit so you can fill up before you head back to town if you get too low, or you can bring along a gas can with one or two gallons. Pop-up headlights will increase drag and make you less streamlined. Parking lights are plenty. The track is well lit. You can lower your tire pressure to help get off the line faster with less spinning. Some racers let a lot of air out. Check with your fellow racers and then do whatever you feel comfortable with. Don't forget to put the air back in before normal driving around town, high speed racing or autocrossing. Other than that, check with your mechanic for any mods you can do. Or you can buy one of the newest Corvettes; GM keeps making them faster and faster!


15. Does my antenna sticking up because it won't retract all the way about 3/4 of the time;
make me less aerodynamic and slow me down? Probably not so much.

Dangers
I promised I wouldn't lie when it came to possible dangers. Drag racing is probably one of the safest races we do, but there are still possible dangers. There are high speeds involved, around 100 mph. But those speeds only last a few seconds and there are no curves involved. You are on a closed course. You have your seat belt and helmet on, and there're those firemen standing by, just in case.

Sometimes there might be something that causes your car to not go straight. Shifting when you're on a slick part of the track can cause you to spin. If you do feel your car starting to slide, your back end starting to swing out one way or another, DON'T hit the brake. Just let up on the gas gently and steer into the skid. Same as if you were driving on the dusty Las Vegas streets. When you spin out on the drag strip, there isn't much room, so that means you could hit the wall. (Autocrosses have more space and are a great place to practice reacting to spin outs. Also, check out the Corvette high speed classes at the Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, NV.) If you have souped up your car, things could break. (Make sure you beef up everything that needs to be beefed up to handle any mods you do.)

Websites for more info.
http://www.lvms.com/strip/

http://www.rbracing-rsr.com/nhraxtreesp.html


http://www.hoosiertire.com/dragman.htm


http://www.nhra.com/nhra101/default.aspx


http://www.nhra.com/nhra101/basics.aspx


http://www.nhra.com/nhra101/handicap.aspx


http://www.springmountainmotorsports.com/

Now get out there and have fun!

Happy Racing!
Cathy Wilson
Lady's Racer's Edge Multiple Champion
Lady's Drag Series Multiple Champion


Photo Credits:
Imre Olajos: 3, 4, 9, 11
Greg or Kathy Clapp: 1, 14
Don Kilgore: 10
Cathy Wilson: 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13

All Graphics by Cathy Wilson

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