Tech; Drag Racing 101
Return to Tech Help
How To Drag
A drag race is simply an acceleration
contest between two vehicles from a standing start over a measured distance,
usually a quarter mile (1,320 feet) or eighth mile (660feet). A drag racing
event is a group of similarly equipped vehicles running a tournament elimination
contest where loser is eliminated after one loss & the winner moves on to the
next round until there is only one vehicle left.
These races are started with an electrical device called a Christmas Tree due to
its large amber, green & red lighting sequence. On each side of the tree
there are seven lights; two small amber lights at the top followed in descending
order by three large amber lights, a green light, & a red light.The timing lights, or Christmas Tree are activated when the driver's front
wheels break a narrow beam of light crossing the track. Once both vehicles clear
the lights (two beams are broken, one for pre-stage & one for stage), the
timers start & the race is under way. When the front wheels break another
beam at the end of the track, the clocks are stopped & the winner is
Clicking below will give a description for
each (back button to return)
Issues with my paint program working with
Frontpage so no mouse overs for now
The Handicap & The Dial-In
To establish how
much of a head start the slower car of the two will get, all cars are required
to dial in. Dialing in is your best guess at what elapsed time your car will
consistently cover the quarter mile. A # of practice laps or runs will establish
this. Beginners should pick a time that is slower that the best practice run.
Running faster than your dial in during the race is called breaking out. If both
racers break out of their dial-in times, the racer who least broke out shall be
declared the winner. Because the handicap is based on the difference of the dial
in of both vehicles racing, running substantially slower than the dial in
increases the likelihood that you will be run down by the faster car or never
catch up to the slower car.
Brackets are set up to make the racing more exciting by classing vehicles in
different performance levels. Brackets are based on the times the cars are
capable of & are usually set up on a one second performance spread. Once both
cars have staged, the three amber lights will go off in sequence 1/2 second
apart until it reaches the green light. A perfect bracket light is .500 though
some tracks now run a .000 light as perfect (TMP switched)
Once the driver
has both the pre-stage & stage lights lit, the starting official will trigger
the main lights on the Christmas Tree. With 1/2 second apart, you should leave
when the green comes on, right?
Wrong. If you wait for the green to come on before hitting the throttle, you
will most likeyly lose the race.
Remember that it takes times for you to actually hit the gas, then time to leave
the stagging beam before the clocks start. Since there is 1/2 second between the
last amber & the green light, it is safe to leave just as that third amber comes
on. Reaction times are important if you want to win the race. Cutting a perfect
light (.500) is a good way to start a race. The amount of time between when the
green light comes on & the staged light goes out is your reaction time. You want
this time to be as close to 1/2 a second(.500)as possible without going under,
causing a redlight. This redlight is an automatic loss of the race.
Redlighting is an automatic loss in drag racing. Redlights occur when a driver
leaves the starting line too early, prior to the green light coming on. Timing
is very important, although it may be good to redlight once in a while just to
see how far you can push it when it comes to leaving the line.
Running The Race
Once the green light has flashed & you are moving forward, without any traction
problems (usually tire shake or tire hop), floor it & keep it floored until you
pass the timing lights 1,320' down the track.
If you do have a traction problem, you may have to feather the clutch or ease
off the throttle until your tires are hooked up to the track. Spinnging you
tires may look & sound good, but that doesn't help you win a race. As you go
down the 1/4 or 1/8 mile concentrate on making your shift points & keeping the
car in the centre of your lane. If you cross the centre line, you automatically
lose the race.
If you have a mechanical problem, pull over to the side or outside edge of the
race track to avoid dumping oil all the way down the track.
If lane one has a truck dialed in at 14.35 & lane two has a car dialed in at
12.75 then lane one has the handicap because the truck is the slower of the two
lanes. The truck in lane one would have a 1.6 second head start on the car.
Theoretically speaking, if both cars cut perfect lights(.500 or .000) & run
their dial ins, the race would end up dead even at the finish line.
Set up for your
I cant stress this one enough. If you want to go fast in a Ram put her on a
diet. Empty all items from the interior as well as leave the spare and tools in
the pit area. You want to get to the track with about 1/4tank of gas.
For more see weight reduction page
I run Good Year Eagle GTIIs occasionally at the track.
When I do, I usually bump the front tires to about 3 psi over the maximum listed
on tire (less rolling resistance better weight transfer). On the rear tires I
would drop them by about 25% of the tires max. Mine go down to 32-33lbs from the
44lbs cold suggested by manufacturer.
On a tire as wide as the 275 or more you don't wont to go lower than that due to
the tires tendency to cup reducing the contact area.
Mickey Thompson Sportsman 28"x7.5" bumped to about 32psi(30 max)
Rear M/T Et Street (dot slick) 28x12.5" set for 16psi even(20psi max).
Testing @ lower psi spring 02
Really green, don't know what to expect or
what to do once you get there? Read on,
Track Etiquette & What To Expect
When paying at the
gate ask where to "tech in". A track official will look over your truck to make
sure its fit to go down the track. With a street truck they may give you a quick
glance or they may just send you on your way. Unless you've got a nos bottle in
the bed (or a big honkin S/C) then they may give you a closer look.
After teching in, park her by the lanes. Don't line up, instead hangout by the
start line and watch a few passes. Pay attention to where the racers go with
instructions from the track workers (hand instructions). Also pay close
attention to the line. Where they set off the pre stage and how far they have to
roll to get the staged lights lit. If the line isn't clearly marked be
sure to look for the box that houses the timers on both sides of the track.
Notice the two holes for the pre stage and staged lights and how far they are
apart. Box should be about 1'x2' and about 4-5" tall.
Beams are about 1-2 inches above the track.
Once you see what's going on head to the
At Cayuga the lanes are 12 wide with a line at the end where it goes to 2 lanes.
You need to be waved on by a track official most of the times to cross the line.
Test n Tune usually no lane official so it can be a free for all when lining up.
Once waved on, line up with the other cars waiting for their turn in the burnout
box. I tend to hang back when next in line for the burnout box to avoid the
flying debris from the car/truck ahead. I lockout od at this time and close the
slider & both windows and make sure the power mirrors are pointing down so I can
see the tires during my burnout. When waved into the burnout area on a treaded
tire always drive around the water box. (water dripping off your tires at the
line wont be appreciated by other racers) On a street tire don't bother to back
into the water but just short of it . Wait for the ok from the box worker to
start your burnout. No burnouts while staged cars are at the starting line.
Plant the brakes firmly, put it in 1st and give it enough gas to get her
spinning at about 4-5k rpms and shift to second if it spins, shift to drive and
let off, coasting with brake to the start line. No long burnouts on street
tires, you will only make the tire greasy. You mainly want to clean out the
stones from the treads and warm it up a bit. One other thing, as a courtesy to
other racers, wait to stage for the other guy. If your impatient and he takes
too long pre stage ;)
attention to the starter as you approach the line after your burnout in case he
wants you to wait. Slowly roll forward and set off the top lights (pre stage).
Inch forward (remember how far the beams were apart) slowly until you just turn
on the staged lights. Having the beam at the front of the tire you will have a
faster et than if you stage deep (beam @ back) by approx .1. Beams have about
8-10" of tire behind them by staging shallow so you get rolling for that
distance before the timers start counting. Here's what I'm referring to. White
dots at the bottom of my Sportsman tire represent the beams.
If you stage shallow with the tire at the front of the beam you will probably be
leaving just as, or before the last yellow lights up. This simulates a .500 tree
accurately as to how fast the lights will come down.
your not hitting 5k at the shifts in auto then manually shift it. (be
sure to lockout OD) I manually shift to make sure I get the rpms I want
so the tranny doesn't short shift. Transgo StageIII shifts in auto before
4800rpm 1-2, 4600 2-3 regardless of tv adjustment. You will probably want to
load the stock torque converter to about 1000-1500rpms at the line. Experiment
to see what your truck likes by checking the 60' times. On the stock converter I
was holding it at 12-1300rpms Depending on how good your traction is, either
roll the gas on while releasing the brake at the last yellow or hit it harder if
the tires hold. Spinning or squealing off the line makes you slow. No tire spin
is the best. Push it till it does spin to find out how far you can push it then
back off a bit next pass.
Most important, watch the officials for instructions and have FUN!
Return to Tech Help