Birth of a Drag Racer Article by: Angelo Puyat
Saturday, 04 November 2000 08:00

Birth of a Drag Racer
Article by: Angelo Puyat

The branch of auto racing that is known infamously as drag racing has been around for quite some time now. From the monstrous V8 engines of yesteryear to the nitrous-fed machines of today, drag racing has appealed to many car enthusiasts the world over. Here in the local scene drag racing may still be in its adolescent stage, but the sport has gained a steady following over the years.

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Various streets around the metro have been preyed on by thrill seekers and hot-rodders using them as their drag strips. With the rising interest of drivers in the sport, it has been a common sight to see folks with highly tuned cars lined up on the streets at night ready to go head-to-head with each other. Of course, these brave (sometimes stupid) souls have been the problem of police officials due to the illegal nature of these events. It's a good thing major organizers are setting up legal events to lure racers away from the dangers of racing in the street.


It doesn't mean if your car is not a Honda Civic with a turbo-charged engine and a racing muffler that you can't race.


As a participant, I was only immersed to the drag racing scene late last year(2000). A friend of mine, who like myself was a racing aficionado, was enticed by the thrill of drag racing Initially on the streets but eventually moved on to the legally organized races. His enthusiasm kinda rubbed off on me and I took to the drag strip as well. It's quite funny because my car ran into some heavy engine trouble and was stuck in the shop disabling me from racing it. But with the insatiable itch to participate in the race, I was forced to use my mother's sedan… a 1996 Honda Accord with the vtec engine. Needless to say, this car was purely stock, no after market add-ons whatsoever. The night before the race, my friends and I decided to remove the air filter in a last ditch effort to cram some more horsepower to the unmodified engine.

Race day came and I was nervous as hell. I mentally worked on how the lights operated, constantly thinking "pre-stage, stage, yellow, yellow, yellow, GO!" I nervously imagined how it would feel when I crossed the finish line, if I would be a winner or not.

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As I found out firsthand that drag racing events had a tendency for lateness, the pressure mounted on as the race was delayed further and further. Finally, dial-ins were carried out and the race was set. Luckily, my previous mental practice with the lights paid off as my reaction times proved so (Not the best but I didn't get higher than .799).


There are a lot of people who are intimidated by the whole culture of drag racing and they shouldn't.


My first race resulted in a double break-out but luckily my opponent had a bigger disparity from his dialed-in time giving me the victory. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to finish the whole event because it was quite late and I had a previous engagement to attend to. But all-in-all, it was a very exciting experience. It was a baptism of fire to the world of drag racing.

What I really want to convey here is that entering the sport of drag racing is not an impossibility. There are a lot of people who are intimidated by the whole culture of drag racing and they shouldn't. Maybe it's the stigma of the sport's illegal nature, but people should view it more openly. Maybe it would help if they thought of it like an extreme sport. Sure there's risk involved, but the same thing goes for basketball or football.

Also, I wish to encourage drag racers away from the street and into the legal races. As the ad goes…"do it on the strip not on the street!" Not to sound corny but it is really dangerous racing in the street. Moreover, it requires more skill in the bracket racing system because one has to have good R.T.s and consistent driving!

This hopefully also reaches drivers who have never had prior experience but want to race or those drivers that worry about not having a fast car. Hey, my experience proves that even a stock car can be competitive, and this was my first time racing ever. It doesn't mean if your car is not a Honda Civic with a turbo-charged engine and a racing muffler that you can't race. That is the beauty of bracket racing, consistency weighs more than horsepower. But of course, having lower E.T.s is more fun. One doesn't need to have tweaked engines and fat bank accounts to race. Just learn the rules, make sure your car will make it to the finish line, and your all set. Oh yeah, don't forget the helmet!

 
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