The Timing System
Sunday, 01 October 2000 23:24

The Timing System

The sophisticated electronic starting system features a vertical series of lights that signal a visual countdown for each competitor until the green light flashes.

The system is called a "Christmas Tree" because of its range of colored lights. Located in the center of the track, about six meters down the strip from the starting line, the tree has staging bulbs at the top which illuminate when a car in each lane is in it's correct starting position. When a vehicle's front tire centers in the light-beam the stage light stays on. Once both cars are properly staged and both bulbs are lit, the starter activates the amber countdown lights which flash in sequence, at four-tenths of a second intervals for handicap starts, or once in unison for Pro-Starts ('heads-up").

As the last of the tree's amber countdown lights goes off, the green light flashes and the race begins. Most racers try to make their move between the last amber and the green, which takes a great deal of practice. If the car moves before the green light comes on, a red light immediately below the green flashes on, indicating a foul and probable

Most trees are also equipped with a Pre-stage light in addition to the staging light. This indicates that the front wheels are approaching the stage beam.

Technique in staging and starting is one of the most important skills involved in drag racing. Since many races are won or lost right at the starting line, care, practice and consistency will pay off.