So now you’re ready to move up to the starting line. You’ve double checked your seatbelt and your helmet strap(RIGHT)?As you pull up to the starting line you want to be sure your car is lined up IN THE GROOVE! The GROOVE is the 2 dark patches on the track where (most) of the cars all run. Its the built up rubber left behind from all the other cars that went before you (very sticky).Center your car as best you can in the 2 black strips, MAKE SURE YOUR WHEELS ARE POINTED STRAIGHT AHEAD!
Here’s where I’m gonna talk about proper staging technique(etiquette)? In drag racing your car there is a thing we call courtesy stage. What this means in the nut shell is, the first car to the line. Pulls up far enough to light the PRE STAGE BULBS ONLY! Then WAITS for the other driver to do likewise. Don’t just go roaring up to the line, light the pre stage, the stage, and then go straight to deep stage ALL AT ONCE! If you do everyone will know you are a rank amateur, we don’t want that do we? If the other driver does it, oh well, tell him about this blog.
If you spent some time watching the starting line (like I told you to). Then you’ll have no problem identifying the box between the lanes that houses the starting beams. Slowly approach the beams, as soon as the pre stage bulb lights STOP, wait for the other driver, then SLOWLY inch forward. You’re only 6″ from the starting line now (don’t want to foulstart now).
When your staged light comes on stop, (this is called a shallow stage) which is good for a lower ET as your car can get a rolling start before breaking the beams. I’ll get into varying your staging methods later, including how to deep stage, and what the advantages are to both techniques. As soon as both cars are staged the starter can activate the tree (SO BE READY).
Eyes on the tree, concentration focused, RPMS up, LEAN BACK! The tree features 3 amber bulbs, a green bulb,and A HUGE UGLY RED ONE! Each amber bulb is lit for exactly 1/2 (.5) seconds giving you a total of 1 1/2 (1.5) seconds from the time the tree is activated until the green light comes on. My best racing tip for this lesson is DON’T WAIT FOR THE GREEN LIGHT TO COME ON! If you do you’ll be late (very) off the starting line.
The reason is a thing called reaction time, you have one and your car has one. Together they add up to a 1/2 second (at least), unless your car is extremely quick/fast. Trust me on this one point, we can fine tune your cars reaction time in the near future. Most peoples reaction time is non adjustable, so we’ll work on different staging depths to fine tune your R.T. later.
So the 3rd amber comes on and we’re off, you didn’t light the red one, did you? You must wait until you SEE the 3rd amber come on, don’t anticipate it (see it). Keep your car centered in the groove as you row through the gears.(Don’t overrev her) Outside of the groove is a place called the marbles, and can be very slick out there (wheelspin bad).
Keep the pedal to the metal and your wits about you. Don’t do nothing dumb at this point we’re almost home free. When you cross the finish line, take your foot off the gas pedal (Duh) and apply the brakes firmly but gently. Gradually slow the car to a safe speed and look for the return road, (REMEMBER WHAT I TOLD YOU ABOUT CUTTING IN FRONT OF THE OTHER CAR)!
Most tracks have more than one return road. Its OK to drive past the first one if your car is traveling too fast to safely negotiate the turn. Remember keep your helmet on and your seat belt securely fastened until you are COMPLETELY OFF THE RACING SURFACE! I’ve seen cars have their brakes fail or other serious problems develop at this point. No sense getting careless now!
Turn off the track and head for the timing shack (NO SPEEDING 10 MPH) to pick up your first timeslip. Congratulations on a job well done! You are now a DRAGRACER for which there is no cure! I’ll be posting more info on this blog in the future so stay tuned for more tips and techniques to come.