Drag Strip Safety
By RM Indy
When it comes to drag racing, safety is a very important issue. Whether
it's top fuel, funny cars, pro mods, super pro, pro, or even us lowly
sportsman/street class racers. All tracks have very specific rules concerning,
conduct, mechanical equipment and personal protective equipement (ppe). Most
will follow NHRA or IHRA rule books with they're own exceptions and additions.
This is not to annoy us but rather to protect, you/me, other competitors,
officials and spectators alike. It certainly helps make the day a lot more
fun. Without a tech inspection before making passes, too many breakdowns,
oildowns and accidents could and would occur. The tech in is suppose to catch
the potential safety problems before they can become a real problem on the
track. When problems on the track do arise, in the extreme and rare cases, the
guard rail/concrete walls protect the spectators, with fire/rescue &
paramedics protecting the drivers. For those reasons, it's probably one of the
safest places to go fast :). In the thousands of passes Ive seen or run Ive
only see about half dozen cars hit the wall.
Safety requirements are progressive with speed, both for mechanical and ppe.
The faster you go the more $afety equipment your required to have or you don't
run. Drive shaft hoops, flywheel shields, tranny shields, battery/ign. cutoff,
rollbars/cages, upgraded axles are a few examples. The list gets bigger and
bigger with quicker ets and increased mph's ending with a chute (not that any
of us will need one soon).
For most of us, we will only be required to have what the truck already has
in it. A neutral switch on an auto tranny, seatbelts, battery hold downs and
overflows bottles/can on the rad. Running slicks or less than 14.0 will mean
running a drive shaft hoop at the front. Please, no running the a/c at the
track, condensation dripping on the track can cause the faster racers some
There is a dress code in effect when running at the track. Shirts, long
pants, socks and shoes are required for everyone. Most tracks don't require a
helmet till 13.99 or less but do recommend it. Check before you go cause some
may require it for everyone. Faster times require having things such
as neck restraints, fire suits and gloves as those ets drop.
When it comes to safety, it also extends to the pits, staging lanes and
road ways as well. That means no burnouts anywhere but the water box or you
may get tossed out. Most tracks have a 5-10mph speed limit as well for any
roads or in the pit area. When your working on your car/truck in the pits
bring jack stands along with that floor jack. I see too many with only a jack
holding up their rear ends while changing tires. Safety even relates to your
cooler/icebox, never bring glass bottles to the track. Cans n plastic bottles
Here's a link to a track
locator so you can check the rules if listed at the track you attend.
Remember, safety starts with you, in your own garage and driveway by having
a properly maintained vehicle. So go out to your local track put the pedal to
the metal and have a safe, fun day.