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M07S
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2,422 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Searched but didn't find anything close, so here it is:

Ok, you've decided that drag racing is fun, and you've decided to be smart about it and take it to a track because your local track has cheap runs and it's much safer (for your wallet and you as well) to keep it off the streets. But you are not sure of what you are doing before you go to the track and need some pointers. If you want the basics then look no further:

First thing, you will have a technical inspection done on your car if you go to a proper dragstrip. They will provide this inspection as part of your entry fee and as such you must comply with the rules. The rules for most tracks, (the proper ones that are NHRA sanctioned,) is that you can drive your hopped up daily driver to a 14.00 before requiring anything more then your standard 3-point seatbelt.

Once you pass that, the track will require more of you but until you prove to them you can run faster then a 14.00, they won't require it. You can ask them what you need and talk to the tech inspectors to see exactly what they will look for when you come back.

So you have your car and you went through tech easy enough. They see that your doors open, had a look over your engine bay, and checked to see that your wheels are securely attached. Now what? Find yourself a seat in the stands, especially if you've never been to a dragstrip before. Watch people stage and which way they turn off the strip after they are done running.

Read on about what will go on when you run, we will return to why you should watch first. I also hope you brought a tire gauge to the track.

Well after watching, you find the staging lanes, and drive up to wait for your turn to run down the strip. At this point you're kinda nervous about how you're going to do, and you NEED TO RELAX.

Don't sit in the staging lanes with your hood open. Don't push your car through the staging lanes if you can help it. Make sure your AC is off and your windows are up. (I live in Phoenix, so I've seen all of these happen.) OK, now that you've waited long enough, you're finally going to get your chance.

At this point you will be waved to the burn-out box, and you might have to wait for the people at the line to run before you pull up to the line. On street tires, you do not need to burn out, so drive around the water. If you don't have a choice to go around it, (I've seen this too,) do a quick burnout to get the water off the tires. Be careful not to go past the staging lights if you must burnout. As you pull up to the line, there is the tree in the center. There are seven levels of lights. The pre-stage, stage, yellow, yellow, yellow, green and red.

Let me breakdown the tree for you light by light.
* Pre-stage: this is the first light, like 100 or 60 watt bulbs. There should be a pair on both sides.
* Stage: Looks similar to the Pre-stage lights. This lets the tree operator know you are ready to run.
* The three yellows can be done 2 ways, sportsman tree and pro tree. Most likely you will run a sportsman tree and the yellow lights will go in sequence, half a second from each other.
* Green: .5 seconds after the last yellow is lit, the green is lit and it's time to go.
* Red: If you jump the gun on the green light, the red light will light up. This does not mean stop. If the red light comes on without the yellows or green, look at the tree operator and if he asks you to back off the line do so.

Staging etiquette: roll forward until you light up the pre-staging lights. When your opponent lights up his pre-stage lights, roll forward together into the stage lights. Remember to stop once you have lit up the stage lights. If you roll forward far enough to turn off the pre-stage lights, do not back up. This is known as deep staging and is ok. The tree operator will let the tree run. I almost never see proper staging etiquette during the street legal drags, especially amongst the import guys.

Now, once you are staged, the yellows will come down tree until the green. If you wait for the green, you will have a poor reaction time (R/T). The best advice I can give here is to react to the last yellow. I have cut a perfect light before, so I feel this is good advice. (On your timeslip, a perfect R/T will either be .500 or .000, for example my local track used to do the .500, now it does the other.)

OK, this is where the watching thing comes in. You did find a seat and watch a few runs, didn't you? Good. After you run down the track and you've made it to the finish line, you need to slow down to a safe speed. There is usually plenty of room to do this. Now, if you are on the inside lane, the driver in the outside lane is waiting for you to turn off the track so he can turn off the track safely. If you didn't watch, you won't know which way to turn or if you are on the inside or outside lane. The track officials will yell at you if you are on the outside lane and turn across the inside lane without making sure it is clear. Remember your safety.

Once you come off the track, there should be a return path. Remember, you are not on the track, calm down and drive slowly. Usually, there is a shack on the left, which you need to stop at to get your timeslip A.K.A. bragging rights. On your timeslip is a bunch of numbers for you and numbers for the person who was also on the track that run. (He got one too, don't try to give him your copy. :p )

Interpreting your timeslip! The R/T does not count for your elapsed time (E/T). Do not worry about your R/T if you are a first time drag racer or are just looking for a low E/T. There are also a bunch of other numbers, like the 60', 330', 1/8th mile, sometimes 1/8th mile trap speed, E/T and E/T trap, sometimes more numbers. The most important number on there for helping you improve is the 60' time. This is a good indicator of how well you launched. Improving this number will help you get the E/T you desire. So for your first few runs, do not be afraid to test different tire pressures or launch RPMs. Good thing you brought that tire gauge, huh?

Do not adjust tire pressures in the staging lanes, do it in the pit/parking area. Also, if you want to cool off your car by opening the hood, the pit/parking area is the place to do it. (Spec V's butterfly valves do not open when the car is cold though, so your engine needs to be warm for that.) Dry Ice on the intake and manifold is ok in the pit/parking area, but the extreme cold could cause condensation and if your car is dripping fluid at the starting line, they will kick you off the track if they see it.

Good luck and I hope this helps you.
 

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coming soon
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14,392 Posts
addition: If your times are high, and your 60' time is higher than 2.3 seconds, your car isn't slow, you just need to practice driving it to get better 60' times ;) so avoid mods until you get those 60' times lower, that will give you better times on what you have and teach you how to drive the car better!
 

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Registered
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i dont plan on doing much drag racing but if i did, this would be very helpful. good advice indeed. thanks for putting the time in for writing this mike( oops joel). newbies NEED to read this. edit: why did i think mike wrote it..? because im an idiot who reads shyt too fast. lol my bad, props joel
 

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i dont wanna copy shannon
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3,180 Posts
i have a question since ive done this a few times already. u and armin (pituala) have mentioned about not "waiting" for the green. but how do u know when to launch at the last yellow? do u do it when the yellow turns on or as it shuts off or what?
 

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i dont wanna copy shannon
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3,180 Posts
so as soon as that last yellow turns on, if i launch right then, i shouldnt be red lighted... by the time i go it would be green?
 

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i dont wanna copy shannon
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3,180 Posts
because in the staging lanes, when the lights turn, and ur windows are down ur creating more drag while u drive... so u drive with the windows up... if ur referring to staging lanes as the lanes where u WAIT for ur turn to even get to the staging lanes then, yeah windows down and doors open, of course but not AT THE TREE!
 

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Suffering From Boost Envy
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725 Posts
this ish needs to stickied good read
 

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oil leaks blow
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2,389 Posts
The burnout is where I see the most mistakes... especially with those who run drag radials and full slicks..

Those people who feel the need to do a 30 sec burnout because they are "warming up their tires" :rolleyes:
Mickey Thompson and M&H slicks only require a 4-5 sec burnout to scrub the tire and get it to the proper heat level.
Drag radials require little to no burnout, and if you do a huge burnout all you are doing is creating excess heat in the tires and you can kiss your good 60' time goodbye.

So for emphasis sake...drive around the water box and do a short burnout to remove the debris from the tires..
 

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M07S
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2,422 Posts
Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
The idea of sitting in the staging lanes with the windows down (I've done this,) while ok for those of you who have some experience at the drag strip, I do not recommend to new drag racers. The nervousness combined with having to remember to roll the windows up, (they won't let your run with them down at most NHRA tracks,) may cause you to get yelled at by the track officials, and screw up your confidence level. I just advise not doing it because it's one less thing to remember to do.

Door open an standing next to the car I feel is ok, because you'll get in and close the door.


EDIT: Most of you who are questioning my advice are experienced drag racers, this is intended to be a guide for people who have never been to a track. This is also to help my fellow b15'ers to not look like a moron the first time out.
 

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1,377 Posts
good write up. it sorta made me not wanna time my car now tho lol. damn my short term memory! :mad:
 
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