Drag Racing Information
In the Pits
Thursday, 01 October 2009 23:21

In the Pits

Drag racing is unique among motorsports because fans have direct access to the teams, watching from as close as five or 10 feet as the highly skilled mechanics "twirl the iron."

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Hot tip: Some of the most frantic action takes place in the first 30 minutes after a car returns to the pits. If you want a front-row seat to watch the teams at their best, head for the pits a little early. If there's a major engine meltdown on the track and you don't mind missing the rest of the action and probably won't have to fight for elbow room. the lack of crowds also provides a good chance to snag some autographs at other pit areas.

If you want to get a real feel for the power of a fuel-burning engine, hang out until a team test-fires its engine, generally 45 minutes to an hour before it expects to run. (For run times, see your event schedule.) You'll get a snoot full of nitro fumes and a genuinebody-shaking thrill whenever the driver blips the throttle. Your shouldn't restrict your pit-area adventures to the Pro classes. Cruise the Sportsman pits. The drivers in those classes are more likely to have time to spend answering your questions. Often, you'll see the same kind of frantic pit-area thrashes that you witness in the Pro pits. Super Stock teams changing transmissions, Comp eliminator crews swapping engines, and alcohol drivers warming their machines.

Every dragstrip and every drag race is different. Take the time to scout the track layout, talk to other fans who have attended the race before, and listen to the buzz in the pits.

 
What is drag racing?
Wednesday, 01 November 2000 08:00

A drag race is an acceleration contest from a standing start between two vehicles over a measured distance.

The accepted standard for that distance is either a quarter-mile (1,320 feet) or an eighth-mile (660 feet).

A drag racing event is a series of such two-vehicle, tournament-style eliminations. The losing driver in each race is eliminated, and the winning drivers progress until one driver remains.

These contests are started by means of an electronic device commonly called a Christmas Tree because of its multicolored starting lights. On each side of the Tree are seven lights: two small
amber lights at the top of the fixture, followed in descending order by three larger amber bulbs, a green bulb, and a red bulb.

Two light beams cross the starting-line area and connect to track side photocells, which are wired to the Christmas Tree and electronic timers in the control tower. When the front tires of a vehicle break the first light beam, called the pre-stage beam, the pre-stage light on the Christmas Tree indicates that the racer is approximately seven inches from the starting line.

When the racer rolls forward into the stage beam, the front tires are positioned exactly on the starting line and the stage bulb is lit on the Tree, which indicates that the vehicle is ready to race. When both vehicles are fully staged, the starter will activate the Tree, and each driver will focus on the three large amber lights on his or her side of the Tree. Depending on the type of racing, all three large amber lights will flash simultaneously, followed four-tenths of a second later by the green light (called a Pro Tree), or the three bulbs will flash
consecutively five-tenths of a second apart, followed five-tenths later by the green light (called a Sportsman, or full, Tree).

Two Separate performances are monitored for each run: elapsed time and speed. Upon leaving the staging beams, each vehicle activates an elapsed-time clock, which is stopped when that
vehicle reaches the finish line. The start-to-finish clocking is the vehicle's elapsed time (e.t.), which serves to measure performance. Speed is measured in a 60-foot "speed trap" that ends at the finish line. Each lane is timed independently.

The first vehicle across the finish line wins, unless, in applicable categories, it runs quicker than its dial-in or index (see glossary). A racer also may be disqualified for leaving the starting line too soon, leaving the lane boundary (either by crossing the centerline, touching the guardrail or guardrail, or striking a track fixture such as the photocells), failing to stage, or failing a post-run inspection (in NHRA class racing, vehicles usually are weighed and their fuel checked after each run, and a complete engine teardown is done after an event victory).

 
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