What is Drag Racing?
The uniqueness of drag racing compared to other forms of motorsports is that it allows fans access to the drivers and teams. This makes drag racing a very fan oriented sport and anyone can participate. In order to participate; vehicles must pass safety inspections and drivers must have valid state or competition licenses.
Essentially, drag racing is a paring of two vehicles against each other on a straightaway course--a contest of acceleration and reflexes between vehicles and drivers. The accepted measure of distance is 1000' for the Top Fuel and Funny cars and other classes (Pro Stock, Sportsman, Bracket) use a 1/4 mile (1320'), and an 1/8 mile (660') for distance. The racer's primary objective is to become the overall winner of his/her class. To achieve this goal, two car competitions are conducted until there is one vehicle left to the class.
In the early days of drag racing a flag man was used to start the race-but, then an electronic device was introduced known as a Christmas tree. This system features a vertical series of lights, displaying a visual countdown for each driver. The drivers try to make their moves between the last amber light and just before the green light come on. The technique in staging and starting is one of the most vital skills a drag racer can develop, since a majority of races are won or lost at the starting line.
Unlike NASCAR or other forms of racing where the drivers has several laps to make up any miscalculations, in drag racing you only have a thousand of a second. Upon leaving the starting line a separate timer is triggered for each vehicle and that timer is stopped when the vehicles cross the finish line. This is known as ET or Elapsed Time, the speed (MPH) is calculated by 2 additional lights. The losing vehicle is eliminated and the winner advances to the next round. This continues until, there is only one vehicle left and he/she is declared the winner. Note: these rules and regulations are widely used in both NHRA and IHRA competition.
NHRA offers more than 200 classes of vehicles. That is grouped into 13 categories, or eliminators classes. The Class is based on various requirements and specifications. This includes: type of vehicles, engine, weight, modifications, and aerodynamics.
The Mellow Yellow Four Professional categories are:
Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro-Stock
The Lucas Oil Series consists of:
Top Alcohol Dragster, Funny Car, Super Comp, Super Gas, Super Street
Comp, Super Stock, and Stock. Other categories include Bracket and Import series. Make up a variety of classes that are equalized by handicap racing.
Classes & Catagories
The Handicap classes enable vehicles with a wide variety of performances to compete against one another. New rules apply for the sportsman classes check NHRA website for details http://www.nhra.com
Dial-Under and Index:
Each driver calculates the ET (elapsed time) his/her vehicle will run. The ET is determined by the driver gathering data after each time trial. The dial-in time is posted on each vehicle in order to pair them up in eliminations. The driver with the slower time is given a head start. This is done by configuring the Tree to count down at a staggered rate. This system allows virtually any two vehicles to be paired in competition.
This is a racing series designed to afford youths as young as 8 years old the chance to compete in drag racing. They are paired up against their peers in replica models of the Pro class. The distance is set at 1/8 mile. Their permitted a single cylinder, four stroke, five HP engines. The competition is setup as an ET Handicap racing. This means dialing in your time you believe your car will run. The engine modifications are almost unlimited; fuel can be either gas or methanol.
Drivers 8-9 years old are restricted to running 12.90 or slower.
Drivers 10-12 are held to 8.90 or slower
Drivers 13-17 may run as quick as 7.90 in the 1/8 mile
| Air Box
|| Is used primarily on Pro-Stock Bikes to settle "negative air" around carburetor.
| Air Foil
|| A rear wing used to create down force, to increase stability.
| Back Pedal
|| When a driver lets off the throttle to regain traction to avoid or stop tire shake
| Bang Blower
|| Explosion inside the supercharger caused by a flame from the combustion process that re-entered the supercharger, where fuel and air is present usually caused by an open intake valve
| Break Out
|| Used in handicap racing, refers to a contestant running quicker then dial in time.
| Bump Spot
|| Bottom qualifying position usually #16
| Burn Down
|| A starting line battle between drivers, where neither driver fully stages to begin the race. The chief starter rarely likes this and could disqualify both cars. The drivers do this in trying to break each other's concentration.
| Burned Piston
|| When a cylinder runs lean (too much air) and excessive heat builds up causing piston to burn/melt.
|| The process of spinning the rear tires to generate heat thereby, increasing traction.
| Christmas tree
|| An electronic device used to start the race, using calibrated-lights to countdown to the green light.
|| Short name for parachute, this devise help slow down race car.
| Clutch Can
|| Slang name for bellhousing, used to house clutch and flywheel.
| Clutch Dust
|| A carbon dust created during clutch lockup.
| Clutch Lockup
|| A progression of the clutch-disc engaging during a run controlled by an air timer system.
|| A run that concludes with the ET matching what the driver predicted (dial in) within 1/100 of a second. A prediction matching to 1/1000 of a second is perfect.
| Deep Stage
|| When a driver rolls into staging lights a few inches farther.
| Delay Box
|| An electronic device used to improve reaction time, allows driver to initiate the run by releasing a button rather than depressing the throttle by foot at the first flash of the starting lights. The unit is actuated by a timer and can be adjusted to 1/1000 of a second.
|| The time that a driver predicts that he/she's car will run. This time is posted on the car in a position where the starter can read it
|| Used in handicap categories, when a selected ET is quicker the national index
|| Made of ballistic material, Kevlar, an absorbent blanket used to contain oil and parts in case of a blown engine
|| Another name for a dragster
|| Is the total volume of air/fuel that an engine is capable of drawing into all cylinders during one operating cycle
|| Did not qualify
| Is a rich condition, caused by too much fuel and preventing spark plugs from firing
| Elapsed Time (ET)
|| The time it takes a vehicle to travel from start to finish
|| After qualifying vehicles race two at a time, resulting in one winner from each pair. This continues until one remains.
|| Another name for a Funny car
| Foul Start
|| When a driver leaves before the green light comes on and a red light flashes. When a foul start occurs this eliminates car for that race unless it's during qualifying then the time (ET) counts
| Fuel Injection
|| A fuel delivery system that deliverers fuel under pressure directly into the combustion chamber
| Full Tree
|| Used in handicap classes to equalize competition, the three (3) amber bulbs flash 5/10ths of a second apart followed by the green light. (See Pro Tree for difference)
|| Path of traction laid down by other cars that have gone down the track, e.g.: "in the groove"
| Guard Beam
|| A light beam device located 16" past the staged beams. It's used to prevent competitors from blocking the stage beam with low installed oil pans or headers. If the guard beam is activated while the staged beam is stilled blocked, the red foul light comes on and the offender is disqualified
|| A start given to the slower car, used in bracket racing, Comp, Super Stock, Stock, Top Dragster, and Top Sportsman
|| A fine-tuned exhaust system
||When a driver/vehicle react quicker at the start then their opponent
* Jr. Drag Racing
||when a cylinder fills with too much fuel, thus prohibiting compression. Result: is usually a blown engine
|| The expected performance for vehicles in a given class as assigned by NHRA. It allows various classes of vehicles to race one another
| Interval Timers
|| Part of the timing system used by the racer/team to analyze the run. This time is taken at 60, 330, 660, & 1000 foot markers
|| To end acceleration by lifting foot off throttle
|| When a car gets out of the groove e.g.: "broke the tires loose" lost traction
|| Pure methyl alcohol produced by synthesis
|| Produced specifically as a drag racing fuel. It is the result of chemical reaction between nitric acid and propane
| Oil Down
|| When a car deposits oil on the race track causing a delay in racing
| On the Trailer
|| A term used to describe a round lost or did not qualify
|| To position front wheels about 7" behind starting line. The small yellow light atop the driver side tree is turned on. The next step is to stage. This will turn on the 2nd bulb atop the tree (see Deep Stage)
| Pro Tree
|| Used in the professional classes to start race. All (3) amber lights flash simultaneously, followed by the green light 4ths of a second later. (See Full Tree for contrast)
|| Another name for a dragster
| Reaction Time
|| The time it takes for a driver and vehicle to react to the green light
| Red Light
|| Foul Start, a driver left the line too soon
| Rev Limiter
|| An electronic device that restricts the RPM of an engine in order to minimize damage. The limiter disrupts the spark plugs firing by a preset RPM chip module
| Roll Out
|| is the time from when the driver initiates the leave until the car physically leaves that starts the Elapsed Time (E.T.) clock
|| Revolutions per Minute measured by the speed of the crankshaft
| Safety Safari®
|| A team of men & women responsible for transporting equipment to the races preparing and maintaining the racing surface, and providing emergency support as needed. The NHRA Safety-Safari is presented by AAA
| Sand Trap
|| Located beyond shutdown area used to help stop errant race cars
| Sixty Foot Time
|| The time it takes for a vehicle to travel the 1st 60', most important to the driver and crew. This info helps to set-up car
|| A term for the driver
| Shutdown Area
|| pass the finish line where vehicles come to a stop and racers are picked up by crew. This is normally for the pro and top sportsman classes
| Slider Clutch
|| A multi-disc clutch designed to slip until a predetermined RPM
|| A racing tire that has no tread normally mounted on rear rims
| Smoke the tires
|| When a car loses traction; also "blew the tires off" or "hazed the tires."
| Speed Trap
|| The final 66' to the finish line where speed is recorded
|| See Christmas tree, Deep Stage, Full Tree, and Pro Tree
|| Slang term for the finish line
|| A crank-driven air/fuel mixture compressor, known as a Blower, to increases atmospheric pressure in an engine to produce more horsepower
| The Walley®
|| Official NHRA trophy
| Time Slip
|| Given to the racer or crew after a run, it lists the reaction time, intervals times (60', 330', 1/8 mile, 1000'), ET, and speed
| Tire Shake
|| A severe vibration that usually occurs at the beginning of a run and is the result of losing traction
|| A racer whose reaction time is significantly slower than opponent's
|| An exhaust driven intake air compressor. See Supercharger
| Weight Transfer
|| Upon acceleration, the front end lifts causing weight to be transferred to the rear wheels. This shift of weight plans the rear wheels to the track and helps to prevent wheel spin
| Wheelie Bars
|| Used to prevent excessive front wheel lift
Brief History of NHRA and founder; Wally Parks
Drag Racing; born on the streets of America in the post-World War II era and its roots were planted on the dry lake beds in California's and the Mojave Desert.
In 1947, Wally Parks, a military tank test-driver for General Motors who served in World War II, helped organize the Southern California Timing Association and later became its general manager. The first SCTA "Speed Week," held at the famed Bonneville Salt Flats in 1949, was the result of a diligent effort of Parks. It was here that racers first began running "against the clock" - actually, a stopwatch.
The first drag strip, the Santa Ana Drags, began running on an airfield in Southern California in 1950, and quickly gained popularity among the crowds because of its revolutionary computerized speed clocks. When Parks became editor of the monthly Hot Rod magazine, he had the forum and the power to form the National Hot Rod Association in 1951 to "create order from chaos" by instituting safety rules and performance standards that helped legitimize the sport. He was its first president.
NHRA held its first official race in April 1953, on a slice of the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds parking lot in Pomona, Calif. Four decades later, that track has undergone a $6-million expansion and renovation and hosts the NHRA season-opening Winternationals and the season finale, the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals.
In 1955, NHRA staged its first national event, called simply "the Nationals" in Great Bend, Kan. Six years later, as the Nationals hop-scotched around the country to showcase the growing sport before settling in Indianapolis in 1961.
Now in its fifth decade, NHRA is the world's largest motor sports sanctioning body with 80,000 members, 140 member tracks, more than 35,000 licensed competitors, and more than 5,000 member-track events.
"No one could have conceived what has happened," Parks said of the NHRA's tremendous growth and success. "We just had an idea and a strong desire to be self-sustaining ... We wanted to build the organization on its own merit. We saw a need -- that being an avenue for safe drag racing -- and with the help of a lot of good people and a little luck we seem to have had some success."
You use racing fuel as an after shave or a perfume
You treat a traffic light, like a Christmas tree
During the off season you sit in the race car making engine sounds and pretend to shift gears
You take an old tire off of one of the many cars in your yard. Then proceed to take a torch to it and inhale the tire smoke
You take your wife or girlfriend out to a fine restaurant and when she gets up to go the ladies room, you commence to draw on the table cloth the new engine design. She comes back and catches you drawing this engine that she had no idea existed. You then say; it's for a friend
You go to the Drag Strip on your first date; true love would be if she suggested it. That's when you find an old beer tap ring and propose
Your wife says she expecting and you think that it means; she expects you to win the next round
You can find your way to any drag strip, but get lost going to your in-laws
You think about racing every 4.00 seconds
You know that PowerAde is a drink and not, a new kitchen appliance
You know that "Breakout" refers to a driver running quicker than their dial in time; it's not a prison escape
You refer to a "Diaper" as an absorbent blanket used to contain oil and parts in case of a blown engine, not something you put on a baby
ET to you means Elapsed Time not Extra Terrestrial
You use 10w40 engine oil for bath oil
You know; Weight Transfer refers to the front end lifting causing weight to be transferred to the rear wheels....It's not a new wave diet!
You may be a Drag Racer if.............
"The Christmas Tree" original debut in 1963 at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis Raceway Park.