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, safety walls, 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
racing is a sport.
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 90 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.
Dragstrip is a 50 foot wide strip, featuring perfectly flat laser-laid
specially prepared concrete,
to withstand the harsh wear from spinning tires.
Concrete safety walls line both sides of the racing surface from
the starting area to the end of the shutdown area.
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.
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
"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.
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
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.
About Reaction Times
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.
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 .090 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.
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.
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.
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).
crossing the finish line, the driver lets off the accelerator
and slowly applies the brakes in the shutdown area while staying
in his own lane. Drivers should avoid skidding. The vehicle in
the left lane makes a left turn exit first followed by the right
lane driver. 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 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 his times. The speed on the
return road is limited to 5 m.p.h.
racing is not drag racing.
day at HMP Dragstrip
prepare for a day at the drag races. Bring only the essentials
including: a camera or video (for bragging rights), 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.
your vehicle for safety. You will be asked at the gate if you
want to race or watch. Racing participants pay $20 (car + driver).
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.
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. Our friendly SFI
Certified tech inspection personnel will assist racers with compliance
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. Vehicle must be clean
inside and out.
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
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 on the return road
and all pit areas is 5 mph (Total complex, except dragstrip).
are welcome to walk in the pits. Kids are allowed in the pits
if supervised by an adult. Only licensed drivers may operate autos,
golf cars, motorized scooters and motorbikes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
your run, pick up your "time-slip" and return to your
pit area. Relax and compare your times with others, make any needed
adjustments before your next run.
time slip will have your vehicle number, the class you're in (if
applicable) and the incremental times of your run. 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.
that you've passed tech inspection…
your signed TECH CARD to registration.
your DRIVER LICENSE.
the "RELEASE OF LIABILITY" form.
a WRISTBAND and RUN CARD.
a CAR NUMBER written on you windows.
a pit area for you car.
to "STAGING LANES."
! ! !
basis of competition is in the performance numbers.
Drivers perform as consistently as possible while tuning
their machines for optimum performance.