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#892 - 08/12/04 09:26 AM How do I drag race  
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Please add your experience to bracket drag racing to help those who are new to this sport.

I'll start and you can add your input to this thread.

  • In the end you are racing against the time clock so mostly ignore the car in the other lane.
  • Just know if they are to leave before or after you when the tree lights start so you are not surprised which of you are leaving the line 1st.
  • For normal bracket racing from the time the tree light starts to the green light is .500 of 1 second, so practice your launch until your start time is just barely over .500
  • Make up a game plan on how you race, make it a normal routine such as turning off functions you would not want on during a drag race such as the A/C, power adders, traction control, etc for in many cases people forget to turn them off and then suffer longer times during the race.
  • Come prepared, such as you need long pants and shirts, helmet, white shoe polish so you can put your dial in time on windshield, tire pressure gauge to adjust tire pressure, etc.
  • Decide how you want to stage at the lights, deep stage is when the tires trip on the 2nd stage light you could roll the car just a bit more forward which means you will trip the start timer sooner and have shortened up the total length.
  • Early stage is the front tires are a bit further back which helps prevent tripping the start timer before the green light comes on and your DQ'd.
  • Practice launching off the line, with stock tires your 60 foot time should be close to 2 seconds, any longer and your adding even more time at the finish line.
  • Adjust rear stock tires air pressure to get better traction and 60 foot times but no lower then about 25 PSI for tires could then spin on the wheel rims.
  • Dial in time - in bracket racing you have to write on the windshield what elapsed time you would cross the finish line. If you get there sooner then your dial in you lose, meaning you broke out of your ET.
  • As the race day goes on you get better and faster, when it gets dark out and temps lower, the car goes faster so you need to adjust your dial in ET with that in mind.
  • Once you have your car dialed in for best run look at how much gas was in the tank and then use about the same amount each time you go to a drag strip.
  • Practice launching off the line and find what RPM the engine should be to get the best 60 foot time. There is no need to launch with engine at 5,000 RPMs when car leaves the line better at 1,200 RPMs.
  • Drive hard past the finish line, do not lift off the gas pedal BEFORE the finish line.
  • If your winning the race it is bad manners to jam on the brakes to slow down before the finish line, it makes the loser even feel worse they lost but also to a car that was on the brakes.
    He will remember you and will want to get even at a later time.
  • Sand bagging - that is when someone dials in a slower ET but really can go faster. Then if they have fallen behind from a bad start can still catch and pass you, catch you off gaurd and they win.
  • Between runs lift the hood so the engine can cool down since engine runs better when it and the air is cooler. Some bring dry ice and put that onto intake to cool it down so the air in it is cooler when launching


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#893 - 08/14/04 02:26 PM Re: How do I drag race  
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How to Drag Race Page

If you've never been to a track, or maybe just a beginner and you do not have a clear understanding about about the different programs at the track such as bracket racing, I'll try to help out a bit. Consider this "Bracket Racing 101" or "Bracket Racing for Dummies". But first I think a brief primer on the basics of drag racing should be lightly covered.

SAFETY

The first thing I would like to start with is Safety, most of this is fairly logical, but it should be gone over at least once anyway.

You should have an SN 95+ helmet

You should insure that your vehicle does not leak any fluids such as oil or antifreeze. Not good for anyone.

Your coolant overflow system should be in operating condition.

Your Battery should be well strapped in.

You should always observe and obey the posted pit speed limits.

If during hard acceleration you begin to severely loose traction, get out of the throttle. 90% of accidents actually on the track occur due to a driver staying in the throttle too long. When the tail end gets a bit sideways, the driver will finally let off the throttle, then the tires grab, then the driver oversteers the vehicle in a corrective reflex, thus the vehicle introduces itself to the opposite wall. This should never happen with a street car. At our power level it amazes me that anyone could find the wall in a straightaway race... but it happens. Better to have a wasted pass versus a wasted Vette !!!

PASSING TECH

Tech is fairly easy if you know what to expect before you go to the track. Its very rare for a late model Corvette to be denied the opportunity to race, but on occasion it could happen if you go un-prepared... therefore follow the brief rules I have listed below, and you should have a Fun Day Racing !!

Rules for cars that run et's 12.00 and slower

Make sure your battery is strapped in well.

Make sure your coolant overflow is in operational condition.

Make sure your tires are within reasonable condition.

Make sure you have a SN95 rated Helmet

Shorts and tank tops are not allowed while you race, therefore at the very least bring a short or long sleeved shirt and long pants with you.

If you are running aftermarket wheels, make sure your studs comes out at a distant that is at least equal to the diameter of the stud below the rim of the stud. (Make sure you utilize an open ended lugnut if you are running a slick tire.)

Make sure none of your studs or lugnuts are broken.

If you have a convertible, you must have a 5 point rollbar installed if you run 13.99 or quicker. See the 11.99 and quicker section for details on the rollbar.

Make sure your seatbelt is fully functional.

NO LEAKS, such as oil or antifreeze.

Make sure your shifter has the ability to lock-out the ignition if in gear.

If you have hubcaps... remove them.

Commons sense goes a long way... for example, do not show up at tech with a windshield that is basically shattered, or a front spoiler that is dragging on the ground... you get the idea.

If you are running Nitrous Oxide, refer to your NHRA Rulebook for all of your installation and safety rules.

Some tracks have a noise limit (Typically in the 100decibel area), therefore cap up your exhaust if necessary.(I recommend you call your track for details on this limit)

Rules for cars that run et's 11.99-11.00

All of the above

Fire Jacket - SFI spec 3.2A/1 (Should be clearly labeled on the jacket)

5 point 3" Driver Restraint System. Must be labeled SFI spec 16.1 System must also have manufacture date shown. The restraint system must be updated every 2 years.

5 Point Rollbar. All roll bars must be within 6" of the rear, or side, of the driver's head, extend in height at least 3" above the driver's helmet with driver in the normal driving position, and be at least as wide as the drivers shoulders or within 1" of the drivers door. The Sidebar must be including on the driver's side and must pass the driver at a point midway between the shoulder and elbow. Rollbar must be attached to the frame on OEM cars. All materials must be 1.75" OD x .118" thickness with Mild Steel. or .083" thickness for Chrome Moly. (I do not have all of the details listed here. I highly recommend that your acquire a NHRA 2001 rulebook for more detailed specifics.)

For cars that run 10.99 or quicker please refer to your NHRA Rulebook.

I probably have not listed all of the rules above, but it should be a good starting point for most of you. But most importantly, and especially for the racers who plan on running your racecar 11.99 or quicker, I highly recommend you acquire a NHRA 2001 Rulebook. If you become a NHRA member, you will receive the new annual rulebook automatically every year as an added benefit.

One last note on passing tech, be prepared, get your hood open and your drivers license available, and have a good attitude. Minor infractions are sometimes overlooked if you present yourself in a respectful manor.
Going down the strip

Depending on the particular venue of your racetrack on race day, you will either be called over the PA system for your class of racing to the staging lanes or if you are racing during a Test n Tune night... you may just be able to hop into the staging lanes whenever you feel the need to make a pass. (Some tracks actually broadcast on a local radio frequency as well)

Once you do get in the staging lanes, as a courtesy to all of the racers behind you, always stay in or near your race vehicle, and move up in the staging lanes as appropriate.

When it finally becomes your turn to race, typically you will end up racing whoever randomly was next to you... I recommend you ignore them altogether and concentrate on what you are trying to do.


Always look at the track officials or starters for instruction, if the previous race had no problems they will simply wave you up. If you are running either Drag Radials or Slicks I recommend you do the following for tire heat-up:

Back into the water (This is not always allowed due to time restraints, some tracks actually make you pull through the water thus getting your front tires wet as well.) Pulling around the water and backing into the water takes more time, but you are not tracking water up to the starting line.


Regardless of what the track is allowing on that day, what works best for me is to get the rear tires wet, then pullout of the water. Now you are on dry pavement with your rear tires wet. If you have an automatic put your car into second gear, and power brake your tires through 1st gear and up to the top of second gear, wait for about 3 seconds, and slowly release the brakes, you should start to hear your tires chirping on the pavement after about 10-15 feet, at this point, let off the gas and slowly brake to a stop short of the lights. The chirping sounds simply means that your tires are hot and sticky right now, thus anymore tire burn out is detrimental at best. I do not do dry hops, I believe it simply wears the top layer of tire which is now hot and ready to take off.

Note: In my opinion, if you are running Nitto drag radials you should keep the tires heated for a full 5 seconds for proper heat-up.

If you are running street radials, I recommend you pull completely around the water and simply power brake your tires in first gear for a second or two to dust them off, at most tracks your tires will pick-up quite a bit of dust and small particles. Though it is never severe with the harder street radials, it can help slightly improve your 60 foot et. (Note:... Never do your tire heat-up burnout past the staging lights, this is frowned upon by most tracks for any car not running in the 9's or quicker.

You now need to inch up to the staging lights. You will notice that the staging light has 2 sets of small twin bulbs on top. then below that they have 3 larger yellow lights vertical, followed by a single big green light. You also see a red light on the side of the tree or below the green.


Your staging goal is to simply light the 2 pairs of smaller twin yellow bulbs. You do this by inching up and hitting the top yellow bulb pair and immediately stop. You are now half staged, but you still have to inch up to set the next pair of small yellow bulbs. Typically the beam distance is exactly 6 inches from the other, so very slowly inch up and just barely set these lights off, and then stop completely. You are now staged and ready to race.... The Starter will wait until both cars are staged, then typically within a few seconds he will start the tree. The top single big yellow bulb will light, followed by the second from top, followed by the bottom yellow light, and then the green light will come on. I recommend you floor it as soon as the bottom large yellow light comes on, thus your reaction time should be fairly reasonable. However, at the time you floor it will vary from car to car, but I will discuss this in more detail later in this section.

At this point you are racing down the track, I recommend you shift your car at the rpm where your HP peak is made, thus your transmission will actually shift a moment or two later, therefore your end result shiftpoint is approximately 300-400 rpm over your peak HP rpm. This will typically give you your best potential et... however, once again this can vary depending on your motor.


The race is for 1320 feet, make sure you keep your throttle buried all the way through the end lights. Typically the track has two sets of lines across the track at the finish line. You want to make sure you accelerate completely through the backline, which represents the end of the 1/4 mile. (The front lines are typically 30-60 feet in front of the finish line, and represent the 1/4 mile MPH timer locations. (2 timers are used, thus the your 1/4 mile mph is calculated based upon how much time it took you to travel through the 2 timers.)

Therefore, once you have accelerated through the 1/4 mile, you can now back out of your throttle and gently come to a stop. I would not brake hard, there is no reason too, the deceleration distance has typically been designed to give enough distance for cars with twice the weight and half the brakes of a corvette, therefore typically you should be stopped long before the turn off road.

The turnoff road will be located anywhere from an 1/8th mile to 1/4 mile beyond the traps, most tracks that I have been at have a single turn-off road exiting to the left, but a few have it to the right. Upon braking for safety concerns, pay attention to the other driver. If you are on the opposite side of the track as the turn off road, make sure you do not turn in front of them to exit... remember Corvettes have excellent brakes, most cars do not, especially the old muscle years. If your opponent finished the race way ahead of you, you may want to pull behind him to show him your intent. Regardless, common sense always prevails... just be aware and logical.

Upon hopping on the turn off road you will typically be doing a U-Turn to head back to the pits, typically half way back somewhere is a ticket booth, simply pull up and grab your ticket from the attendant in a drive-up type method. Don't spend an hour reading over your ticket at the booth, move on and back to the pits where you can study your ticket a little closer. ( Everybody spends a second or two looking at the final et I guess.)

Your ET slip will typically have the following type of information.

Left lane Right
car# M773 M505
RT .502 .660
60foot time 1.703 2.150
330 foot time 5.027 5.855
1/8th et 7.821 8.875
1/8th mph 87.77 82.95
1000 foot et 10.233 11.433
1/4 et 12.260 13.595
1/4 mph 110.72 103.95
Left 1st 1.486


In this example you are in the left lane, and you will see the reaction time of .502... this is near perfect (thank you), meaning the driver (me) was only 2 thousands of a second from a perfect light. The lights in southern california are all based on a .500 tree, thus a .500 reaction time is perfect a .499 or less light is a redlight, meaning you went a touch to soon. .502's unfortunately are pretty rare, but when you do get one, savor it.

The reaction time is not part of your et... many new racers think that the reaction time is adding time to their total et... actually your et is started when you broke the beams after your reaction time was accrued. Reaction time importance becomes more important if you are grudge racing a buddy or even more importantly in bracket racing competition. I will discuss the reaction time in more detail later in this section.

The times and mph are pretty self explanatory. They are the actual times and mph you were at as you crossed the beams at each distance. Special emphasis should always be put on your 60 foot time, simply because barring any major modifications that add mph and HP, this is where you will improve your et's. As kind of a rough estimate, typically for ever tenth you knock off your 60 foot time, you will knock off another 1/2 tenth going down the track due to inertia, thus your total reduced et would be .15 improvement on a .10 60 foot improvement. This is rough and varies from car to car, but you get the general idea. As an example, our opponent in the example ran a 2.150 60 foot time, based upon his 13.59 et and mph of almost 104, I would venture to say his car easily had the potential for a 1.95 et even with the stock torque converter, thus as a guestimate, I believe he could have ran approximately a 13.30 or about a 3 tenths gain over his 13.59 (2 tenths plus roughly 1 tenth inertia push)

The 1.486 at the bottom of the timeslip indicates you won the race by a total of 1.486 seconds.... this time does however include the reaction time. Simply put... because the race was on when the lights turned green and our lane had a .158 reaction time advantage plus the actual et advantage equaling 1.486 seconds total, or in other words roughly 14 car lengths based upon the principle that .1 second equals 1 car length. (This is probably off a bit, but not real far off... I believe mathematically you are traveling 16.1 feet per tenth of a second at 110 mph.)


Well you just had a successful race, some people become addicted after this 1st pass, others become a little frigid to racing after the 1st pass.... guess which category I fell into.


The only thing I can think of to add to this most basic drag race...always think safety, watch the track officials at all times for instructions. Do not have Radar Love turned up on your stereo full blast at the line, you should have your stereo turned off in case of further instruction. Also you should have your windows up before doing your tire warmup, your seat belt on and helmet on and strapped up.

If upon acceleration your car makes a strange noise of any sort, or you suspect mechanical problems even in the slightest degree, gently brake to a speed you can easily turn to the side of the track against the wall and stop. This is for safety purposes obviously, but also another very simple reason... If you for example blew a radiator hose you do not want to spread coolant all the way down the track and out through the turn-off road, this will simply mean the track will be shut down for quite a while as the track officials clean your 2000 foot mess. You might get a few dirty looks from the officials, racers and spectators as well. Its a lot easier to clean 100 foot coolant mess than the 2000 foot mess, and it makes for happier track officials too. (They're lazy just like us.... or at least me)
BRACKET RACING

This section is going to cover what is Bracket Racing and due to memory restrictions, only a few basics of strategy. I am personally not some World Beater at Bracket Racing, I've won a little and lost a lot, however I always enjoy the friendly competition and have studied the sport a little bit, thus maybe I can help out somebody with the following information.


Bracket Racing is simply put... Handicapped Racing.... it means regardless of how much faster or slower your competitor is compared to you, based upon your dial-in time (The time you think you are going to run without going quicker than this posted time) you are going to be handicapped to your competitor.

In other words not unlike your local betting line on a football game, if you were betting on the Rams against the Raiders last year(1999), you more than likely had to give away 8 points or so, thus the Raiders in essence had an 8 point lead before kick off, bracket racing kind of works in the same way to help even up the odds a bit.

In other words if you took your trial or test passes and you ran 12.30 every pass... then when it is time for eliminations, you may select to write 12.30 on your front and rear windows in a visible fashion so the track officials can see it. This is your projected et without going quicker than this time. If you ran a 12.29, you would break out, thus you would lose the race on a disqualification.

If your competitor dialed in a 13.30, then his tree is going to start exactly 1 second before yours.... so you gotta catch him and pass him before the end of the 1/4 without running quicker than 12.30, and he wants to run 13.30 or slower but yet stay ahead of you at the end of the track.

Example: Left lane Right lane
car# 10 11
dial in: 12.30 13.30
RT .550 .600
60foot 1.700 2.000
330 foot 5.050 5.750
1/8th 7.850 8.600
1/8th mph 88.00 83.00
1000 ft et 10.300 11.200
1/4 et 12.320 13.310
1/4 mph 111.00 105.00
Win Left Lane: .040


In this situation, you would have found that neither one of you redlighted and that you passed him at the very end of the track and probably put about a solid fender on him going through the traps. Neither one of you broke out, therefore because neither redlighted either, there is no disqualification to either racer, thus, whoever crossed the finish line first won the race. You beat him, even though he ran closer to his dial-in time than you, you had a better reaction time which over compensated for you being off 2 hundredths off your dial in time versus your competitor only being off 1 hundredths off their dial time.


In other words, I like to think of things in terms of packages. You brought a .070 second package to the table which would be very competitive in any non-electronic bracket class. Your package is simply the total amount of error... in this case it was .050 reaction time error and .02 dial-in time error = .070 seconds total error.


Your competitor had .1 reaction time error and .01 dial-in error, thus his total package was .110 error, which also isn't bad, but not likely to win you every round either.


I believe to be competitive in each round you need a total package of .1 or less... anything more and you are going to have problems in any given round. If you are serious about bracket racing, you might want to consider creating a racers log and charting your progress in keeping your total package on an average below .1.... not just in competition, but in time only practice rounds. Write down a time to yourself and then try to hit a good light and chart it. .1 package rounds by no means guarantee you a win, I've hit .520 lights and ran my dial to a hundredths before and still lost, but it will mean that you are a competitor that cannot be taken lightly.


Things you should probably work on to build yourself a respectable package:

Motor Consistency is of course extremely important in a bracket race, if your motor runs a 12.30 one pass and the very next pass you run a 12.60..... and you don't know why.... you are in trouble !! Make sure your ignition system is in good working order as well as your fuel delivery system. They can be the first culprits in inconsistency.

Of course tires are extremely important, if you have a car that runs in the 14's or quicker your racecar is capable of spinning at anytime with street radials. At the very least you need BFG or Nitto Drag Radials. In some classes at events they require that you not only run a DOT approved tire, but also a radial, so those 2 tires become your only 2 choices. I personally prefer the BFG tire over the Nitto, simply because they are a little stickier and more consistent than the Nitto's.... however to the Nitto's behalf, they last twice as long as the BFG's. However, if the class requirement is only running a DOT tire regardless if it is a radial or not, then the DOT approved Mickey Thompson ET Streets would probably be my pick. (In fact they are now)They are stickier than both of the drag radials, and in addition, they are a wrinkle wall that has flex, therefore, they seem to recover much quicker when you do have spin as opposed to the BFG or Nitto which typically stay in a full spin much longer.

Once you have a motor and chassis that reliably stick to the pavement and get you down the track, then the next main consistency dial-in concern is the weather. Changes in the weather will change your et's without a doubt. I would venture to say if you ran 1 day at 60 degrees with a barometric pressure of 30.2 and the next day you ran in 100 degree weather with a barometric pressure of 29.60 on the same track, the difference in et could be a staggering 1/2 second difference. Believe it or not we can actually have weather that almost duplicates that at Pomona.... I have seen it so cool and overcast in the morning when we first start racing that you have to wear a jacket, and by midafternoon, its so hot and sticky you don't have enough clothes to take off.

Point is, you have to get to know your car, I personally believe carb cars have more of an influx of times with the weather than the computer controlled late model fuel injected cars... simply because our ecm's work dynamically with our motors. However, it does effect our cars, maybe just not as dramatic. I do not have any clear cut answers to anybody for the amount they should adjust per 10 degrees or point of barometric pressure, you simply just have to get to know your car, every motor reacts differently to this variable. Considering you will typically receive between 2-4 trial passes before eliminations start in a bracket race... I recommend you put them to good use. Chart the outside temperature, perhaps get a barometer report before going to the track as well. Some tracks actually show the temp and barometric pressure on the et slips, however at Pomona and Carlsbad they do not. If you have an airport close by as many race tracks do, most airports have an automated weather report that includes the station barometer that you could call periodically during your day of racing. Through Summit you can purchase a host of doohickies that help out such as a weather station, in addition they offer computer calculators that will help you calculate how much time to add or subtract to your projected dial-in et. I have not personally tried these devices as of yet, thus it would be un-fair of me to comment on them. I do know that many people swear by them. If anybody has something good or bad to say about them, feel free to drop me a comment and let me know how they worked out for you.


Another variable that will effect your dial in time is Motor temperature, once again this is something that will vary from car to car so it is impossible for me give you a clear cut # to adjust based upon the temperature of your car. But it is universally known that a cool motor makes more power.

If my motor is around 190 versus 160, I personally will add around 2-4 hundredths of a second to my dial-in depending on other variables. With your car this # could be greater or nothing at all. You want to try and race your motor at the same temperature always, but this is next to impossible, especially if you are winning in brackets, thus you get to a point near the finals that you are almost hot lapping your motor. So practice and observation are what will win races with this minor adjustment.

Another area to improve your total package is of course the much discussed "Reaction Time". Reaction time is defined as the amount of time you reacted to the lights and got your race car to trip the et start beam. In other words, your brain can wait until the green appears, and tell your foot to floor it at the exact moment that the green light appears, but their is a delay from the brain to the foot, and of course the car was told to move, but the motor doesn't know it yet, and finally the wheels are told to move, and then they have to move approximately 12" or less to break the et starting beam (12" or less depends on how deep your stage was) All this simply means, is that if you wait until the green before you floor it, you have more than likely already lost the race. Most cars within the 11-14 second et range your brain needs to tell your foot to floor it at the moment the last yellow lights. Of course once again as in all things this is a variable, that changes from car to car, depending on how deep you stage, how quick your foot is, how good your traction is, and how quick your car is. A low 11 second car may need to wait until the middle of the last yellow light, where a 14 second car may need to hit as the second yellow light shuts off. There is only one way that I know off to hit good lights.... Practice with composure!! You will find out where your car best performs and go from there on trying to hit consistently tight lights.

A few tips, never pay attention to your competitor at the staging light in competition, I recommend you always know what the dial-in time is of your competitor for the simple reason you won't be mentally startled when he jumps 2 seconds before you, or doesn't go when you go, but do not constantly check out the condition of his lights, just focus on yours. When the lights go down, your eyes should go in a rhythm as well with the lights. However, once you get going, by all means pay attention to your competitor. Try to repeat your preoperation the same method, time after time, however do not get caught in a rut where you feel you must always stage first or last... just be ready the second you are staged for the simple reason your competitor may already be staged. While it doesn't happen very often anymore, occasionally you will have a competitor who will try to take you out of your ritual, typically by taking his merry ol time staging, thus you get antsy, and are always taking your focus of your lights, and become more concerned with what your competitor is up to. Never get caught up in this, simply relax your body, and keep your eyes and mind focused on your lights.

Most racers prefer to get their converter off idle, thus they power brake the motor just a little, you do not want to change this ritual if it what you are used to, and you simply never want to get in the habit of somebody who stages their converter up to the rpm where the brakes can no longer hold the car. You have too much margin of error doing this, even a little foot tingle can accidently kick the car forward through the starting et beams before the lights have even started, thus you lose. In other words, start your mild power brake the second you get staged, and never get in the habit of staging at 3000 rpm with a 3000 rpm or less torque converter... Even the best brakes are not going to hold the car. I personally stage at approximately 1200-1400 rpm, I am just simply getting the motor off idle, which typically provides cleaner more consistent launches in my opinion. (I have a 3000 rpm torque converter) Even on a good running motor, flooring your car from off idle will occasionally cause a very slight stumble... that of course can greatly effect both your et and reaction time.

The last thing I have to say about reaction time is that I highly recommend you practice staying off the redlight. You will not win the race if you redlight !!! I tell myself before every race that if my competitor is going to beat me, he is going to have to earn it, I'm not going to hand it to him. If you do not redlight, you will find yourself going that occasional extra round even if your package is pretty poor. I have not conducted a study, but I would venture to guess that approximately 20% of the time a bracket racer redlights. Therefore, it becomes simple logic, that if you stay off the redlight, your win percentage has the opportunity to increase by up to 20 percent.

Whenever I hit a .500-.520 light I consider it a mistake on my part simply because I am cutting it too close to the red side. (I don't mind these mistakes too much though) If I hit a .520-.560 I am on my lights that day... not too close to the red side... but a safe competitive number.

One other staging consideration is the rollout, or in other words how deep you go into the lights. Some people like to deep stage, this is where they actually stage so deep into the lights, they are taking the top bulb off, or in other words the tires are right against the start beam. Thus they base their launch off the last yellow disappearing. This is not good for et's, but if that is what the racer is used too... then he should stay with it. Staging as light as possible is my method, I simply light the top bulb, and then bring my converter up to where I want it, and then gently release a little bit of the brake pressure to slowly inch forward and barely light the second bulbs. This typically gives me around a 10" rollout, and typically better et's too, however, in bracket racing this doesn't matter as much, its more about what you are used too. If you accidently stage very deeply, the first thing you'll notice is that your reaction time will be considerably quicker... to the point that you may even redlight. (One other note, if Deep staging is your choice, you must right the word "Deep" on your windows above or below your dial-in time so that the starter will see your intent of taking the top bulb off. Therefore, he will not pre-maturely start the tree before you are staged.)

So after all of the talk above, you have come to the conclusion it doesn't matter how fast your Vette is in bracket racing, because its handicapped, and you have an equal chance of winning... well not exactly.

We've all been to Vegas or Atlantic City and played blackjack before, the dealer has a distinct advantage... that advantage is that you, the player have an opportunity to break out first, thus losing the game before the dealer has even looked at their cards. Thus the same goes true for bracket racing, if you are the faster car, your competitor's lights start first, and they have the first opportunity to redlight.... if they redlight, before your lights have even started... too bad.... you win. Once they redlight the race in effect is over, even if you redlight too, as long as you didn't break the et starting beam before they did you win. The first to disqualify loses, and the faster car never has the opportunity to redlight first. Thus, having one of the quicker cars in your class is desirable. In addition, there is another definitive advantage in my opinion, and that is that the race is in front of you.... after they have launched, you know how far they are ahead of you the whole race... they are right in front of you, where your competitor has to keep his eyes on the road in front of him with only occasional glances back to gauge where you are. What this means is that it is easier for the faster car to make adjustments right before the traps. You can better gauge if you are indeed going to catch him or not, and if you need to get off the throttle right before the traps, because you are safely passing them, and you want to knock some et off to eliminate the danger of breaking out of your dialed in time.

In addition, the faster car will in many cases sandbag away a tenth or two ..... what this means is if the faster car knows his car will run 12.00 flat, but he dials a 12.20, he pretty much knows that no matter what he is going to catch his competitor before the traps, but he risks the danger of breaking out because his racecar can run much quicker than the dial-in, so what they do is catch the sandbagged victim and then fender race them the last 300 feet of the race. Fender racing is simply catching your slower competitor early and feathering your throttle to the extent that you maintain a lead of a bumper to half car on your competitor. What the faster car is doing is simply trying to land his car within a tighter window of your total package. In other words if you are the slower car and your total package is a tenth, and based upon a tenth of a second is roughly 16 feet at 110 mph, Your faster competitor has a 16 foot window to beat you in, provided his reaction time wasn't over your total package, and you are not on a breakout pass. If both competitors break out, the one who broke out by the least amount wins the race. Fender racing takes a little practice, but in some cases can be very effective in advancing another round.

The Dial-In

Obviously a very important aspect of bracket racing is the Dial-in time that you select. The Dial-in time is the et that you will strive to run as close to, but without going quicker than this time, which in turn would result in a Breakout. A breakout is when you run quicker than your dial-in time, and results in disqualification. If both race cars breakout of their dial-in time, then the racecar that broke out by the least amount wins the race.

What you dial-in for your et is strictly up to you. Typically at most bracket racing events, you will receive between 2-4 trial passes to determine your dial-in time. If you for example ran 13.15, 13.06 and 13.22 with your 3 trial passes. You then obviously see that you have decision to make. Some people make the mistake of dialing in a quicker time than they have run all day... such as a 12.99.... because it looks better to them on their windshield. This is a big mistake. One of the rules I follow when I dial my time..."Never dial a time you cannot run today" Last year we had a fellow racer run low 13's in all of his 3 trial passes. He then proceeded to dial-in 12.69 on his windshield. I questioned him on this, and his reply "3 weeks ago at another racetrack I ran 12.69"..... I'm not kidding or exaggerating the #'s on this. Needless to say, he was easily dispatched off in the 1st round. (Wish I could have raced him in the 1st round)

In the above example of running 13.06, 13.15 and 13.22... the safe dial is a 13.22.....you know you can run this et and it was your last runtime as well. You have to consider all of the other variables before you actually write this # on your windshield, such as weather changes and motor changes. Then based upon this information you then write your #. For example, maybe since your last trial and eliminations, the outside temperature has risen 10 degrees, thus through your experiences with your motor, you have found that your motor runs 2 hundredths slower per 10 degrees of heat, therefore your new dial-in time would be 13.24

As a rule of thumb, I rarely give in dial-in advise at the track. I'd hate to give the wrong opinion to a racer, and then they lose. Thus, I'm going to follow the same advise here on this web page as well, and just finish this portion of this page by listing a couple of my personal dial-in rules.

* Never dial a time you cannot run today.

* Dial soft when you are the faster car... typically I only dial right around 1/2 tenth soft on a good hooking track. But if you are on a slippery track, dial 1-2 tenths soft to accommodate for a spin. But if you hook, be prepared to dump some serious et. (Easier said than done)

* Dial hard when you are the slower car... typically I will be pushing my Vette right through the lights. (Its harder to back-in to your competitor is the reasoning)

* If the track is sloppy, dial soft. Typically I will dial what I think I will run with a spin, plus a 1/2 tenth.

* Know your competitor's dial-in before dialing yourself in, if possible. If you happen to know your competitor and know what they are capable of running and you notice that they are dialing soft by a few tenths and you are the slower car. You may want to dial slightly soft yourself, cut a good light, and get out of the gas yourself at the last possible minute and push them into a breakout.

* Pick a strategy and stay with it. Consistency in all facets is the key to winning bracket race


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#894 - 08/14/04 02:28 PM Re: How do I drag race  
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The whole point of hot rodding is to become involved. It’s infinitely more fun to play the game than to merely watch. While racing at any level is not cheap, drag racing offers a class called bracket racing, in which any car can compete regardless of its performance. All you need is a car and the desire.
But before you turn your first tire in competition, it’s always best to know how the game is played. Getting started is the focus of this story. The best place to start is to hang out with a racer who wins. Offer to help in the pits in exchange for his input on how to race intelligently. This works especially well for younger hot rodders, but it can work for anyone. Generally, these experienced racers are flattered by your interest and can be a tremendous help in getting you started.

DIALING FOR E.T.
In most forms of racing, winning means getting to the finish line first. But in bracket racing that’s not always true. Handicap racing may be a better description of what happens. Typically, the elapsed time (e.t.) categories are separated into four brackets: Super Pro is 7.50 to 10.99 seconds, Pro is 11.00 to 11.99 seconds, Sportsman is 12.00 to 13.99 seconds, and Street is 14.00 seconds and slower. Each of these brackets offers a wide range of e.t.’s, so to level the playing field, the cars are handicapped based on the e.t. you choose. This is called your dial-in. Choose your dial-in carefully, because if your car runs quicker than your dial-in, you automatically lose. This is called breaking out.

For example, let’s say that you choose a 14.20 e.t. for your dial-in, and your opponent chooses a 13.80. Since you have the slower car, you will get a .40-second head start. Theoretically, if both cars run exactly on their dial-in, the finish would be a tie. But this never happens because of the variables of both cars’ e.t.’s and reaction times.

The lights that shine across the starting line also serve to electronically measure the amount of time it takes for your front tires to clear the beams when the car leaves the line. This is called a reaction time. Most tracks use an interval of .500 second between each yellow bulb on a three-amber Sportsman Christmas Tree. Reaction time is then expressed as a number greater than .500 (the amount of time between the last amber and the green light), which would be a “perfect” reaction time. For example, a reasonable reaction time would be a .532. Leaving too soon will create a red light, which means you automatically lose. Red lights are expressed as a number less than .500, such as .496. Some tracks give reaction time based on .000 as a perfect reaction time, so the above .532 example would be shown as a .032 reaction time. In this case red lights are given as a negative number, such as –.004. Quicker e.t. classes such as Super Gas and Super Comp use a Pro Tree, where all three amber lights flash simultaneously .400 second before the green light. In this case, a perfect light on a Pro Tree would then be a .400 light.


STAGING GAMES
Now that you know what all those flashing lights mean, let’s move to the all-important action of staging the car to start the race. Staging is one of the most important aspects of drag racing. All dragstrips use the standard Pre-Stage and Stage lights that appear as two sets of small yellow lights positioned at the very top of the Tree. These sets of lights are directly tied to two light beams that cross the track and make up the starting line. The Pre-Stage lights at the very top of the Tree will light up as the front tires of your car interrupt the Pre-Stage beam. This informs you that your car is approaching the starting line. The Stage lights will turn on when your front tires have interrupted the second starting line beam. When both sets of Pre-Stage and Stage lights are lit, your car is staged. This is your signal to the dragstrip starter that you are fully prepared to race.

RACING TO WIN
The key to winning in any type of drag racing is to pull off a consistent and quick reaction time. This is also true for bracket racing. Running consistent e.t.’s makes winning easy, but the best place to win races is right at the starting line. Getting a better jump off the starting line than your opponent will win a majority of races. This is where bracket racing can get confusing. Using the example of a 14.20 car racing a 13.80 car, let’s say that you leave with a .532 light and run a 14.22 while your opponent runs a 13.81 but was slower on the Tree with a .550 light. While his car ran closer to his dial-in by .01-second, he was slower than you in reaction time by .018. This means that you would win by .008 second due to your quicker reaction time. In other words, even though you ran slower, you still won the race! It seems as if there are a million ways to lose and only one way to win, and nowhere is that truer than in bracket racing. As mentioned before, if you run quicker than your dial-in, you will probably lose. Sometimes, however, both cars will break out trying to beat the other to the finish line. In the case of a double-breakout, where both cars run under their dial-in, the car closest to its original dial-in will be the winner.

CONSISTENCY WINS
If there is one axiom to success in bracket racing, it is that consistency wins. To eliminate variables, you should strive to make a ritual out of every pass. Everything you and your car do should be exactly the same, meaning your burnout, staging procedure, reaction time, shift points and a hundred other operations that get the car down the track should be as close to the same as possible each round. Learn to compensate for changing track conditions by altering your dial-in rather than modifying the car. This will give you more time to study the conditions while avoiding the distraction of wrenching on the car between rounds. This is especially helpful during the final rounds when the cars are often required to hot-lap between the finish of one race and the start of another.

The beauty of bracket racing is that any car can win. Since slower cars are often more consistent, your mom’s Monte Carlo would probably make a killer bracket car. Either way, the idea is to compete. At first you’ll discover all the ways to lose. But if you stick with it, you’ll find that the best part of racing is competing rather than spectating. As the ad says, “Just Do It.” But don’t forget to ask your mom’s permission before you use her car. Tell her she can have the trophies!


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#895 - 08/14/04 02:31 PM Re: How do I drag race  
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First of all, what is "drag racing"? In the simplest terms, drag racing is a sport where two vehicles compete side-by-side in an acceleration contest. Both drivers race in a straight line from a standing start to a finish line 1/8 mile away. The first to cross the finish line wins the race. Competition is part driver and part machine.
Drag races are conducted on a dragstrip according to a set of safety and performance based rules. The dragstrip is designed and constructed to allow racing to be done under the safest possible environment for both the drivers as well as spectators. The track surface, guardwalls, fences, staging lanes and return road are arranged according to strict standards. Race procedures must conform to long established industry standards. Insurance carrier and sanctioning body guidelines must also be closely followed to ensure a safe, fair and fun racing experience for all that attend or participate.

Drag racing is a sport

The Racer
No special skills are needed. In the sport of drag racing, any licensed driver can participate. Kids as young as 8 years old compete in Junior Drag League events and some as old as 99 race at local tracks nation wide in weekly programs. Driving skills improve with each race. The full performance capabilities of a vehicle are tested while a driver learns a vehicle's characteristics.

The Track
The dragstrip is a 60 feet wide strip of specially prepared asphalt. Concrete safety guardwalls line both sides of the racing surface from the starting area to far beyond the finish line. The starting area has a concrete surface 150 feet long to withstand the harsh wear from spinning tires.

The Tree
A drag race is started using a device called a "Christmas Tree" that stands 42 feet ahead of the start line. As the vehicles approach the starting line the drivers are signaled to stage their vehicles and start the race by watching the colored bulbs light up in sequence.

Each side of the "tree" has two small yellow bulbs at the top that signals a driver when the vehicle is on the start line. The first bulb lights when the vehicle is almost on the line, "pre-staged", followed by the next bulb lighting as the vehicle moves forward to "staged" position on the line.

The "tree" has three larger amber colored bulbs on each side followed by a green bulb and then a red bulb. Once both vehicles are staged, the "tree" is activated and the first amber colored bulbs on both sides of the tree light up. Then ½ second later the next amber bulb lights up while the first amber bulb goes out. Another ½ second later the last amber bulb lights up. And one-half second later the green bulb lights up signaling the drivers to start the race. If either vehicle leaves the start line before the green bulb lights up, the red bulb will light up instead. This indicates a foul start for that vehicle thereby giving the other driver an automatic win.

While both vehicles may leave together on the green light, a driver's reaction time from when the green comes on will become a factor in the race. If one vehicle remains on the starting line after the green comes on, the other vehicle will gain an advantage making it possible for the slower vehicle to win the race.

More About Reaction Times
Keep in mind that the tree counts down at .500 second (five tenths) intervals. The reaction time announced is the time that the vehicle took to move off of the starting line compared to when the last amber bulb lit up.

Example: A reaction time of .543 means the vehicle left the line exactly .043 seconds after the green came on (.500 after the last amber plus .043 = .543). And a reaction time of .410 means the vehicle left .080 seconds before the green bulb lit which activated the red light instead…a foul start. A perfect reaction time is .500 seconds. A reaction time over .6 seconds is considered marginal and over .7 is slow.

The Race
With each racer leaving the start line together, the finish line decides the winner. A series of infrared beams across each lane measure incremental times during the race as well as top speed.

The total time of the race for each lane is recorded and announced as the elapsed time, or E.T., followed by the top speed for each vehicle. The clock starts when the vehicle leaves the start line, not when the green comes on. The reaction time is recorded separately to show how long a vehicle waited to leave while the E.T. shows how long the race was. Adding these numbers together as a "package" will show the mathematical winner every time.

The E.T. is displayed on finish line scoreboards in seconds, tenths and hundredths. The top speed of the vehicle displayed in full numbers followed by tenths and hundredths. Example: E.T. = 9.43 (seconds) at 88.31 (miles per hour).

The Finish Line
After crossing the finish line, the driver lets off the accelerator and slowly applies the brakes in the coast down area while staying in his own lane. Drivers should avoid skidding. The vehicle in the right lane makes a right turn exit first followed by the left lane. This allows a safe exit for both vehicles. No driver should ever turn around on the track since there may be another pair of vehicles ready to start the next race.

The Return Road
After the vehicles exit the track, they return to their pit area using the return road. Racers can stop along the return road at a station called "Time Slips" where a track official will hand the driver a printed slip that shows the results for both vehicles. The speed on the return road is limited to 6 m.p.h.

The basis of competition is in the performance numbers. Drivers perform as consistently as possible while tuning their machines for optimum performance
First of all, only "street legal" vehicles may participate at the Irwindale Dragstrip. If you're not sure if you can race it at Irwindale Dragstrip check the basic technical requirements web page for details. The term "street legal" means any vehicle that is legal on public streets. While the legal requirements of street vehicles vary, we try to accommodate those that may have minor infractions, i.e. tinted windows, aftermarket exhaust, broken taillight, etc. Our officials don't enforce vehicle codes but instead they strive to offer the illegal street racer a place to race that is safe, legal and fun.

What's first?
First, prepare for a day at the drag races. Bring only the essentials including:
Portable FM radio to hear announcements, a camera or video (for bragging rights), money for gate entry and lunch, sunscreen, folding chairs to be comfortable in the pits, helmet (required if car is quicker than 8.6 seconds & all motorcycles), long pants, shoes and sleeved shirt (for drivers). Also, if you don't want to leave something back in your pit space while you race, leave it at home.

Fill up with gas, check out your vehicle for safety and show up at the dragstrip. You will be asked at the gate if you want to race or watch. Racing participants pay $20 (car + driver) and spectators pay $10, children 12 and under are only $5 (kids under 5 and parking is free). You will receive a "tech card" and you'll be directed to the "technical inspection" lanes where your car will be checked for the basic safety items. Fill out the card, open your hood and trunk for inspection.

Technical Inspection
Before any vehicle can race it must first pass the basic safety inspection. Things such as tire tread, brakes, safety belts and steering are checked closely. No leaking fluids are allowed and mufflers are mandatory. Our friendly SFI Certified tech inspection personnel will assist racers with compliance issues.

Most late model factory original vehicles pass through tech inspection in only a few minutes while some of the highly modified muscle cars require more scrutiny. Approved racing type slicks are allowed since they are safer for the quicker accelerating vehicles. Some street legal racers choose to bring their vehicles in on trailers complete with shade canopies, barbecues and tools for a full day of safe, legal and fun racing at the track.

Racer Registration
Once the tech inspector is done checking your vehicle, he will sign it off allowing you to go to the next step at racer registration. All drivers must show a valid state driver license, and sign a liability release form before being allowed to race. You will be given a wristband and a "run-card" that shows track personnel that you have successfully completed the technical inspection/registration process. Finally, a number is applied to the windows of your vehicle using a white "shoe polish" like marker. That number is used to identify and group the competitors to race control personnel.

The Pits
You the racer, can now go find a pit space to claim as your own for the day. Using cones, tires or chairs to mark a space is common and acceptable, however you must be careful not to block fire-lanes or park in someone else's pit space. While it's acceptable to work on vehicles in the pits there is no draining of fluids allowed. Vehicles on jacks must use jackstands. Anytime the vehicle is running a licensed driver must be in the driver seat with all safety equipment in place. The speed limit in the pits is 6 m.p.h. really!

Spectators are welcome to walk or even park in the pits but as with all vehicles it's important that the fire-lanes remain open. Kids are allowed in the pits if supervised by an adult. Only licensed drivers may operate autos, golf cars, motorized scooters and motorbikes.

The Call to the Lanes
All dragstrip announcements can be heard on the radio at FM 104.7 and the public address system. When only a small number of racers show up at the track the "staging lanes" will be open to all racers at the same time. However, when a large number of racers show up on race day, the lane calls will be made by groupings. The groups will be called depending on the nature and format of the event. In example, if about half of the cars are imports and the other half are domestic cars then the call may be made by these groupings. Other times the groups will be made by car numbers…cars with 300 series numbers, then 400 series and so on.

When your group is called you may proceed to the rear of the "staging lanes". Be sure to bring your run card and have all loose items removed from the vehicle. As you drive into the rear of the staging lanes a track official will ask for your run card and direct you to a lane. This allows the track officials to verify that you have been through tech inspection and to give drivers some instructions if needed.

When you get to the front of the staging lanes another track official will again ask for your run-card. He will punch a hole in it to show that you've made a run and he may even do a quick check for safety items on your vehicle. He will then direct you to the starting line area of the track.

The Burn-Out
The area directly behind the starting line is called the "water box" and is designed for heating the tires to maximize traction. A track official will signal you to stop when the drive tires are in the water box. On his signal you may "powerbrake" the vehicle to spin the tires for up to 5 seconds. Properly done, the tires will heat up from spinning and start smoking as you allow the vehicle to move forward out of the water box.

A burn-out is not required and it's not even necessary for most tires. Vehicles that use racing slicks benefit the most from a good smoky burnout because the hot tires will provide maximum traction on the track. You should drive around the water box if you decide to skip the burn-out.

Only one burn-out is permitted and it cannot be done across the starting line.

The RACE
Immediately after the burnout you may stage your vehicle on the starting line. Once both vehicles are staged, the Christmas tree will be activated to signal the start of the race. A good race will result if you're able to prevent the tires from spinning, drive straight and let the engine rev to maximum r.p.m.'s before shifting.

It's common for drivers in quicker cars to "feather" the accelerator to keep the tires from spinning. Excessive spinning of the tires will result in lost traction, slower speeds and can even cause you to lose control of the vehicle with disastrous results. If you feel you're spinning or losing control you should let off the accelerator and try racing again later.

How'd you do?
After your run, pick up your "time-slip" and return to your pit area. Relax and compare your times with others, make any needed adjustments and wait for the next call to the lanes. It is sometimes allowed for you to "hot lap" back to the staging lanes for more runs but be sure that it's allowed before returning to the lanes. If you're group has not been called to the lanes you will be turned back.

Your time slip will have your vehicle number, the class you're in (if applicable) and the incremental times of your run as well as other racers'. The first number is your dial-in printed as "R/T", followed by your 60' time, 330' time and finally you're 660' time printed as "E.T.", and your our top speed. Another number prints below as "MOV" which shows the mathematical margin-of-victory for your race.


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#896 - 08/14/04 02:34 PM Re: How do I drag race  
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How to bracket drag race

So you want to drag race? Well racing isn't just pushing on the gas and going as fast as you can. It is a lot more complicated than that. The only time is which you will just go 'balls out' is during your qualifying runs or if you are a pro driver. If you are a pro, you don't need this article. For most of us, when we enter a race that has a prize of some type there will be an elimination round. This for most of us will be in a 'bracket' type fashion. In part 1 of this tech article, I will describe the basics of understanding how a bracket race works. I want to explain this to you even before I tell you how to drag race, because most of you are going to need to know how it works to get anywhere in this sport. Trust me, even the pros started out bracket racing and some of them still do.

A bracket race is best described as a handicap which allows the competition to be fair. In other words, just because you are lined up against a 12 second car doesn't mean you can't beat him with your 17 second car. The theory behind this is similar to bowling or playing football. When you know you have a better team you give the disadvantage to them by giving them points. This way, they will have at least a chance to compete and you can consider the match fair. In bracket racing, let's assume you are running a 17 second quarter mile and the guy next to you is running a 12 second quarter mile. When it is time to start, he will have to wait an extra 5 seconds AFTER you start in order to make the match fair. If you were to run your EXACT 17 second quarter mile and he were to run his EXACT 12 second quarter mile, technically you should both cross the finish line at EXACTLY the same time. Unfortunately, this is only half of what you need to know, I will explain later in this article.

When you enter onto the drag strip, an official will call up to the timing tower with your 'dial-in'. This is the time in which you believe that you will run the quarter mile in. Don't be ashamed if your time is slower than your opponents because bracket racing is all about consistency, NOT all out power. I have seen guys with rental cars running 21 second quarter mile times win their class and go home with a 4 foot trophy and a few hundred dollars richer. The 'dial-in' is what you will establish (most likely) the day before the actual elimination day. In some cases, it may be the same day but just earlier. In any event, these runs are called time trials (practice). These are the runs that you want to go 'balls out' and see what the car will do. This is also the time in which you want to try different approaches to your launch. Consider these runs 'free' If you lose, who cares, you are there to practice. I entered a race at Carlsbad and lost all 9 of my time trials and came out second in the eliminations (damn you Erik Aguilar!!). Considering that there were roughly 250 entrants, I don't think I did too bad. As part of your time trials, this is also the time in which you want to change things to your car. You don't want to do this during eliminations because you may end up 'breaking out'. I will explain this later as well.

After you have figured out your dial-in, you will want to be running as close to that number as possible. This is where the consistency comes into play. The other half of winning in bracket racing is your 'reaction time'. This is what can make you INSTANTLY lose a race. In a bracket race, you are most likely going to be up against a '500 tree'. This means that between each light is .500 of a second. I guess I should explain the tree. If you noticed on the front page of the website, I have a picture of the starting lights. This is commonly referred to as a Christmas tree. If you can't remember or just didn't go there click on this link. www.deepstaged.net This will give you a look at what I am talking about. When it comes to your reaction time, your number one opponent is that tree. You have the staging lights up top, three yellows, one green and the dreaded red light at the bottom. I will give a better detail explanation in part two. When the lights begin to come down, you want to time it so that your car will leave the line at the exact same time as the green light BEGINS to light up. If you wait until you SEE the green light, you will have a poor reaction time. For most of you first time racers, I recommend this, AS SOON as you see the third yellow light, GO!! This will give you about a .600 reaction time. If you are faster than that, adjust accordingly. Launching against the tree isn't much different than looking at the street light of crossing traffic to see when you light will turn green. The only difference is that you are looking forward and you will know that there is only .500 seconds between the lights.

Now that you know about launching against the tree, let me tell you why it is so important. Imagine this, YOU are the 12 second car and you are racing the 17 second car. You will already be giving him a head start of 5 seconds. Do you really want to give the guy anymore of a head start? I didn't think so. Remember what I said before, if you run a perfect 12 second and he/she runs a perfect 17 second quarter mile, you should both technically cross the finish line at exactly the same time. Now lets factor in the reaction time. If he launches at a perfect .500 reaction and you launch at .700 he already has an extra .200 seconds margin of error. In other words, he could run a 17.20 second quarter and you could run your perfect 12 second quarter and you would still end up cross the line at exactly the same time (Technically, you would win in that case but that's really complicated to explain, maybe pt.3.). Anyway, if you so much as sneeze, he could end up beating you and you will be packing up and going home. Now lets go out on a technical limb, assume your dialed in at 12.23 and your opponent is dialed in at 17.39. When the lights come down, he launches at a reaction time of .613 and you launch at a reaction time of .761. He crosses the finish line running a 17.51 and you cross the finish line running a 12.28. At first glance, it looks as if you won, you ran closer to your number than he did. WRONG !! He beat you by .078 seconds the reason for this is the reaction time. He launched .148 second quicker than you did and had that much more margin for error than you did. So even though his time difference between the dial in and the actual e.t. was .120 seconds and your time difference was only .050 seconds. he still beat you because he had a margin of error of .148 PLUS your .050 Totaling .198 seconds of total "OOPS" time. If you didn't understand anything I just said, don't worry you will get it as you race more. The bottom line is that you want to get your reaction time to be as close to .500 as possible with out going under. Going under is called 'red lighting' and it is bad, plain and simple. If you red light, you lose INSTANTLY no matter what you run or what he runs. In other words, if you red light, he could technically get out and push his car down the track and win the run 5 minutes later. Of course, the officials wouldn't let that happen, but you get the picture.

Alright the last thing I am going to talk about is breaking out. This is pretty simple to understand, if you run faster than your dial-in, you 'break out'. When you write down your dial in, you are telling the officials and your opponent that this is what you are going to run the quarter mile in. They adjust the tree to your individual dial ins and you race down the track. If you run faster than your estimated time, than the match is deemed unfair because you only gave them so much of a handicap. There are times in which this can hurt you and times when it can help you. You will figure all of them out as you race more and more.

In this section, I a going to talk about how to actually line up against the tree. This is one of the most common mistakes that a first time racer does. If you are at an event, in most cases you will be yelled at and criticized in the event you don't line up correctly. Okay, you've made it through the staging lanes by waiting in line for 20 minutes or more. Now is the time to show what you can do. The official is going to direct you to the lane you are to run. Whether it is the inside or the outside lane who knows. By reading this, you will know what to do when it is your turn to face the Christmas tree.

The first thing you will come to is the burn out box (or water box). This is commonly a patch of concrete about 8 feet wide and 3-4 feet long. It will have a dip in the middle and a puddle of water. The water is there for a reason, it acts like an activator to the burn out. You don't want to attempt a burnout with out the water or you could end up breaking an axle or worse. The official in most cases will guide you into the burn out box and tell you when to stop. You do not want to be in the middle of the puddle of water. You actually want to be just on the far edge of the burnout box. This will have meant that your tires have rolled through the water and are damp enough to begin the burn out. If you stay in the middle of the burn out box, your tires will remain wet and you will defeat the whole purpose of the burnout. I guess I should tell you what that purpose is. Most people think of the burn out as a way to warm up the tires or make them stickier. Well, that is only half of the purpose, the second half is to get rocks, dirt or other foreign debris off of the tires. So by staying in the water box for the whole burn out, you are not only keeping the water on the tires, but you are not heating them up because they are being cooled down by the water. Burn outs are really ONLY effective if you are running on TRUE drag slicks or selected drag radials. Check with the drag radial manufacture to find out if you need to do a burn out.

If you have regular street tires, a burn out WILL NOT HELP!! It is recommended that you don't attempt a burn out and go around the water box if at all possible. The grooves that are in the street tire are designed to pick up rain and water and disperse it through the tire. By going through the water box, you are in fact picking up the water and placing it onto the tires. The more you spin the tires in the water box, the more water you pick up. Not only will this make it so you have water on your tires at the line, but you will end up tracking water behind you for the next guy or making the officials mop up the water. By the way, they don't like it when you put water on their track. So the bottom line to this is that if you really want to do a burn out, make it count and do it correctly, but check to see if it will help you. I have found that for most street tires, even the really expensive one's, a burn out hurts my time.

The second thing you are going to come to is the staging lights. Remember what the tree looks like? About 15-20 feet from the burn out box (in most cases) will be a little white box with two holes in it. These holes for reference, look like mouse hole similar to what you see on television cartoons. They actually house the staging lights. They are spread 8 inches apart from each other and activate the two lights on the top of the Christmas tree. When your front tires break the light beams they will illuminate the corresponding lights. The first light beam will light up the top light called the pre-staged light. This lets the official and your opponent that you are ready to line up. You want to be sure to 'creep' into the the lights. I have seen many people pass the lights and then they can't figure out why they can't stage. What I do, is when I break the first beam and pre-stage, I stop. This way I am in control of how I want to stage.

When you are ready to race, you are going to move forward slightly and break the second beam of light. This will stage you. Now there are three different ways to stage. The first way is to 'shallow stage' this is where you barely move forward enough to activate the stage light. This method really helps when you are on street tires. The reason for shallow staging is because you can launch at a lower rpm and build your speed so that you don't spin off of the line. I feel that it gives you more control of your overall launch. If you move forward a bit more, you are simply 'staged'. You will know when you are shallow staged or staged when both the pre-staged light and the staged light are still lit. The third way to stage is called 'deep staging' This is were you move forward so far that the pre-staged light turns off and only the staged light remains lit. You can also deep stage with both staging lights on but it is harder to do and could cause you to red light easier. The problem with deep staging is that when the light turns green, you will have no momentum and you will have to rely on pure torque to get you out of the hole. Some people like to deep stage because they think it gives them a bit of a head start because of the extra few inches. I personally have found little benefit to deep staging so I won't talk about it here.

After the lights have gone down and you have the green light the race has technically began. Although the lights are green and your opponent has already headed down the track. The timing DOES NOT start until you actually leave the line. In other words, even if you sat at the line for a minute, you can still run a 12 second quarter mile. You will see this a lot in the pro class where they are not running anybody. The light could be green for ages and they will still click off a 7 second pass. This is because the timing WILL NOT START until you have left the line but you can still loose the race, remember the reaction time thing?

The next beam of light that you will cross is called the 60-foot mark. This mark is pretty much exactly what it says. It measures how long it takes for you to go 60 feet. This is a really good tool to tell you how you are launching and if there is anything that you need to improve. I will get more into this at a later time. After the 60-foot mark you will come to your 330 mark. This is again a measurement of how the car is reacting. Next you come to the 660 mark or the 1/8th mile marker. This tells you how your car is doing as far as traction, wheel spin, etc. On most time slips, this will not only give you a time, but will also give you a MPH reading. Pay attention to these because they can tell you a lot. The next mark is the 990/1000 ft mark, again another timing thing. The last mark is the 1320-ft or 1/4 mile mark. This is the one that tells you what time you ran in the race. On the time slip, it will be followed by you 1320-ft MPH.

At the end of the track you may have noticed a section that has two thick lines sometimes cross hatched together. This is called the traps. During this point is where your actual MPH is calculated. It really has no other purpose than that BUT the furthest line is the finish line. Don't let off the gas until cross that last line. On certain tracks they will have a light along the side of the track that will light up if you win, sometimes it is on top of the timing lights and sometime it just doesn't exist. Don't worry about it if you don't see it.

After you have finished the race, you will have to obviously exit the track. Some tracks have only one turn out and others have three or more. For the tracks that have only one turnout, it may be on the left or the right depending on the track set up. In most cases this turnout is about 1/2 mile after the traps. This should give you ample time to slow down and exit the track. On tracks with 3 turn outs, the first is usually 1/4 mile after the traps and the next two are every 1/8th mile after that. For faster cars, DON'T attempt to exit on the first turn out. Also, if you are the person in front, I recommend that you wait until the turnout AFTER the turnout your opponent took. This is just common courtesy to your opponent and the track officials. ALWAYS know where you opponent is so that you don't turn into him if he followed you for some reason. I have seen car collide at the end of the track as they tried to exit. It makes the officials MAD. One thing to remember is that most insurance companies WILL NOT cover an accident or collision if you are on a race track. So don't get into any fender benders.

After you have exited the track you will be driving down the return road. The speed limit on these roads is normally 5 mph sometimes higher but pay attention. Track officials will kick you off the track if you speed down the return road. The quarter mile is the place to show your speed not the return road no matter how bad you lost. Somewhere along the return road is going to be a station that hands out your time slips. This is the place where you will find your fate. Be courteous to the person attending the both. They have no idea of who you are and did not watch your run. So if you see a mistake, or don't get a time slip be polite and ask for advice. They will most likely direct you to the timing tower where you can get your numbers.

Hopefully this is enough information for you to get out on to the track. If you are still unsure of how to race or line up, take a few minutes to watch how other people line up and take notes from them. Racing is all about having fun and being a good sport. Remember that and you could be the next pro class driver signing autographs. Good luck and race safe


Team ZR-1
True Custom Performance Tuning
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