Important Information for New Competitors
Nothing is as easy, or as difficult as it first seems. So it is with drag racing. There’s entry forms, staging lanes, pre-stage and stage lights, red light starts, of course insurance and so on. But nothing is confusing and difficult once you understand it.
By the time you have read this page and the page Important Information for All Competitors, you will be an expert on drag-racing. To become an expert drag-racer, like all things, you need to to put in the time. Time watching, time asking questions and time racing!
Casino Drags, the nrdra.com.au website and other competitors can give you a head start with the trade secrets of drag racing. Just ask. After a little mousing about this and other websites, asking some questions and racing a few times, you’ll be hooked on drag racing just like the rest of us, ‘cause as Adam Brand sings “It’s time to face the fact – you’re a Rev-Head”!
There’s some very important stuff about your personal safty and protection that you need to check out on the page Important Information for All Competitors.
You can nominate yourself now as a competitor via this website, create yourself a profile name and password then log in to set your profile.
Nominating is now all done on race-day, print out the nomination forms,
fill them out and hand in at the gate on race day, with your fee of $65.
The Scrutineers will check your vehicle for general safety items and basic protective clothing. There are only a few requirements that are needed to compete with Street Vehicles – a three point lap-sash seat belt and an approved helmet both in good condition, long sleeves, long pants, closed shoes and socks. Bikes need a helmet, leather jacket or purpose made riding jacket, long pants and boots as a minimum.
After scrutineering you’ll be asked to sign an indemnity form at which time you will be given an arm-band and your vinyl competitor number set. You can’t race without them.
Similarly, should you wish a crew-member assist you at the start line, your crew member will also be asked to sign an indemnity form and will be given an arm-band of different colour to gain access to the staging and start line areas.
The staging Marshalls will ensure that everybody gets a fair go and equal chance of going down the track. When you reach the front of the staging lanes you will be instructed as to which lane to use. By this time you should have your Seat Belt on, Helmet on and done up and all windows wound up.
The Burnout Marshall will indicate when to smoke ‘em up. If you choose not to do a burnout you can proceed to the Start Line. Static burnouts are prohibited.
The Start Line and the Christmas Tree
As you approach the start line, there are three sets of infra-red beams crossing each lane, three inches above the strip. Your front tyres of course are the beam breakers. The Christmas tree has a set of independent lights for each lane. The beams control the lights.
The first beam is the pre-stage beam. It controls the top pair of white lights on the tree. The pre-stage lights do nothing more than let you know you have 200mm (eight inches) to go to the stage beam, which controls the second pair of white lights on the tree. The race cannot be started until both lanes’ stage lights are lit.
The third beam is the guard beam, which starts the timers if the stage beam has not been cleared. This usually applies to very low cars such as dragsters and late model cars with low body kits. When your vehicle is properly staged both the pre-stage and the stage lights are on – you’re ready to GO!
At this stage you need to give your full attention to the Christmas tree, because as soon as the stage lights are on in both lanes, the Starter will activate the system and you’ll need to put pedal to the metal very soon! When the Starter does activate the system, the tree’s 3 amber lights each turn on sequentially in intervals of .400 seconds.
The green light is just below the 3rd amber light. Green of course means GO! Below the green light is the red light. It is activated if your car or bike moves before the green light comes on.
As we said before, when the stage light is on, your front tyre is interrupting the stage beam. If that beam is re-opened before the green light comes on, i.e. if you leave too soon or roll backwards, the red light comes on. While this doesn’t matter a real lot in Grudge raceing, it does in Competition Racing as it means you will have disqualified yourself for jumping the start.
There is an infra-red beam at the finish line. When your front tyre breaks that beam in your lane, the elapsed time clock stops. The Timing Crew enter the time for each lane into the system, which then immediately places those times onto www.dragcity.com.au. By the time you have returned to the pits, your crew will know your time!
After crossing the finish line you should back off and look for the return road while steadily applying the brakes. The return road is on your right and you should negotiate the turn slowly and safely. If you have a problem and cannot stop, don’t try to take the corner at high speed – just continue straight ahead. There’s another kilometre of strip in which to stop.
Please don’t take a short cut onto the return road before the marked turn-off. You could cause damage to the grassed runway apron. The volunteers who repair such damage will take a very dim view of such shenanigans and could report culprits to the event director. You could be asked to leave the strip. It has happened!
If your vehicle breaks down and can’t leave the strip, switch on your hazard lights. The next race will not start until strip is clear. The Marshalls will help you move your vehicle off the strip. The return road speed limit is 25 km/h.
Working The Lights
While you read this explanation of how to “cut a good light” you should remember three facts:
- lane is timed independently of the other.
- The timers do not start when the green light comes on!
- The timers only start when your vehicle moves out of the stage beams.
Most newcomers to Drag Racing leave when the green light comes on. This will give a reaction time of around 1 second as it takes time for you to react then more time for your vehicle to actually move forward.
For example, if you leave when the green light comes on and your opposition leaves when the third amber light comes on, you’ll not only be surprised to find that your opposition did not red light, but that he or she’s many metres ahead of you at the start line.
So, lesson number one in cutting a good light is to forget about the green. Try leaving as soon as you see the last amber light. You will be amazed at the difference in your times
If you wonder why you can leave before the green light comes on, without triggering the red light, consider this. It is all about reaction times – yours and your vehicle’s.
Medical studies have revealed that on average, human reaction times is around .190 seconds. Then there’s your vehicle’s reaction time – the time it takes from when you put the hammer down until your front tyres move out of the stage beam. The weight of your vehicle and therefore its inertia determine its reaction time.
Obviously a 400 kilogram bike has a lower reaction time than a two ton Chev station wagon – yes there’s one at most Summerland Drags events and it pulls good times. Your vehicle’s reaction time is a major consideration.
So you can see that it takes almost half the system time of .400 seconds time between the last amber and green for you to react and stand on the throttle. To that, add the time for your vehicle to move forward and clear the start line beam. Naturally, the slower the vehicle, the slower the vehicle reaction time and the earlier you can leave the start line. This takes practice and as we said earlier, varies from vehicle to vehicle.