What is drag racing?
Since the invention of automobiles, there has been an appeal to racing. Drag racing is one way that many people participate in racing. Before the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) was formed, drag racing was illegally taking form on regular use streets. After the NHRA was formed in 1951 drag racing was able to become standardized.
How does a drag race work?
Each class has differences, but the basic premise is as follows:
Drivers line their cars up at the starting line in their lane, and they are allowed to perform a burnout. Burnouts are not just a show for the crowd, they are used to heat the tires and lay rubber down at the beginning of the track which improved traction. Sometimes these burnouts lead to a spectacular
flame burnout that is exciting to watch. When the burnouts are finished, the racers reverse to the starting line and stages themselves for the signals. The signals are given electronically by a system commonly known as a ‘Christmas tree’. It is a column of lights for each lane that have one blue light, three amber lights, one green and then one red light. Each light being lit means something different.
It is important to be paying attention to your opponent while staging, because as soon as one competitor is all set the other driver has a set amount of time to stage or they will be instantly disqualified.
Once staged, the Christmas tree will randomize a short delay before starting the race in order to prevent the drivers from being able to anticipate the start. Once the delay is over the race begins.
What is a drag racing class?
There are hundreds of different classes available for racers to participate in, each having their own unique restrictions and requirements on things like styles of the body, engines sizes, car modifications and things like that. The NHRA includes 5 pro classes: Top Track, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Modified, and Pro Stock Motorcycle.
For aspiring drag racers, there is even a class for them called the Junior Dragster class, where they race on an eight-mile track.
What is a dial-in?
Ever wonder what the numbers mean that are often displayed on the side of a dragsters car mean? These numbers represent a dial-in time, which is a time that the driver estimates it will take their rig to cross the finish line. They are put on the side of the car to the starter can modify the lights on the starting tree appropriately. The car with the longer dial-in time will get a head start based on the difference between the two cars dial-in times. Dial-ins are important to keep track of because if you were to go father than the dial-in time on your car you would be disqualified. The point of a dial-in time is not to punish a driver for improving, but to place importance on the consistency of someone’s performance.
Where is all the drag racing action?
Wondering how to find out where to go to in order to see a drag race? You most likely won’t have to travel all that far. In North America, the largest drag racing organization is the NHRA, the second being the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA). Almost every single drag strip in North America is associated with one or the other. There are also organizations all around the world:
New Zealand – New Zealand Hot Rod Association (NZHRA)