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Terms and Definitions


Christmas Tree -
The electronic starting device positioned between the lanes just ahead of the starting line.

Pre- Stage -
When your tires break this light beam, it's a signal that you are very close to the starting line.

Stage -
Your front tires have reached the starting line. NOTE: The race typically will not be started until both drivers are staged. However, there is only a short grace period for staging. If you fail to stage in time, you will be disqualified (red light).

Countdown Lights -
Once the starter triggers the tree, these flash down at .500-second intervals with the green coming on .500 seconds after the last yellow.

60' timers-These give time and speed are various intervals on the track. Your 60' time is generally an indication of how well your car "hooks" - how much traction it has.

Bracket -
A specific class defined by elapsed time or required equipment.

Breakout -
Running faster than your dial-in (you "dial" a 10.00, but run a 9.99)

Burnout -
Spinning the tires to clean them and to heat the rubber for better traction. Drag slicks work best at an elevated temperature. NOTE: Street tires DO NOT require a burnout. Typically, they will actually perform worse if heated. However, you are free to burn 'em down if you like. If you do not wish to make a burnout, you may drive around the water box.

ET -
Elapsed time. The time from when the front tires leave the starting line beam until the front tires break the finish line beam. Reported to the thousandth of a second.

Heads Up -
Two cars racing with no handicap start. The classic drag race.

Hole Shot -
The better reaction time. The "hole" is the starting line.

Pro Tree -
The three yellow lights flash on all at the same time and the green lights .400 seconds after.

Sportsman Tree -
The tree horist is bitching about me adding.

Reaction Time -
The time between the driver's reaction to the last yellow of the tree and the time the front tires leave the staging beam. It can also be thought of as how close you came to leaving on the green light. It is printed on the ET slip.

Red Light or Foul Start -
The red light is triggered by leaving before the green. It can also signal a foul or disqualification, like failing to stage in the required time or breaking something.

Speed beam -
Your speed at the finish is calculated by measuring the time between when you break the speed beam and the finish line beam. The speed trap is 66' wide.

Staging Lanes -
Lanes marked off behind the burnout box area where the competitors are paired up for the race.

Water box/burnout box -
A small area kept wet by track personnel to help cars with slicks perform their burnout

Your First Time at the Track

If you're new to drag racing, read our interpretation on how to prep yourself for your first racing day. In this guide you will learn how a track operates and how you should run your car down the 1320' stretch.

Stock Parts Weight List

How to Stage

This illustration shows the relationship of the two staging beams to a front tire. Breaking both light beams stages the car and positions it on the starting line. Shallow staging is when the front tire just barely breaks the Stage beam. This position allows the greatest amount of rollout distance. If you continue to roll the car forward after the Stage light is lit, eventually the Pre-Stage light will go out. This is called deep staging and may be illegal in some forms of bracket racing. Shallow staging produces the most rollout, which is essentially a head start. Deep staging eliminates that head start, which will slow the ET but improve the reaction time.

How to Improve Reaction Time

The most important key to improving your reaction times (RT’s) is practice! Once the Pre-Stage and Stage bulbs are lit on the tree, you should focus on the tree and have your car ready to launch. In a car with a 5 speed, this includes having the motor revved up to the desired RPM if you want to leave harder by dropping the clutch. The biggest mistake new racers make on the tree is hitting the gas when they see the green light. By this time, the experienced drag racer will already have nearly a full second advantage on you, and it will be very difficult to catch up to him/her!

As soon as you see the 3rd yellow bulb light up, GO! This is difficult to get accustomed to, but everyone goes through this process. Again, practice makes perfect, so get in as much seat time as possible to master the art of a perfect RT. Also don’t hesitate to ask for help from more experienced racers. They are generally more than willing to help out a new racer!

Timeslip Anatomy

  Car Number

Dial In:
1 / 4




Car Number: The number and/or letters shoe polished on your windshield that the tower uses to identify you on the timeslip.

Dial In: The ET you expect to run, used in bracket racing classes.

RT: Your reaction time, where .500 is perfect on a sportsman tree, which is normally used at TNT and street nights at the track.

60’: Also known as your “short time”. This is the indication of how hard your car hooked, and plays a big part in 1/8th miles racing.

330 & 1000: More information to allow you to further analyze your run. These are your ET’s to 330 feet and 1000 feet.

1/8 & MPH: This is your 1/8th mile ET and speed. Many tracks that do not have the resources to run a full quarter mile run 1/8th mile instead.

1 / 4 & MPH: This is the all-important ET and trap speed. It tells you how fast you finished the quarter mile, and how fast you were moving in the last 66 feet.

You can see from this timeslip that the racer broke-out, because his ET was faster than his dial in.

Bracket Racing

In a heads-up drag race, the first car to the finish line wins. Usually, this will be the fastest car, with the most money sunk into it! Bracket racing simply put is handicapped racing. What I mean is, that it doesn't matter how quick or how slow your car is. You choose the ET your car can run consistently, and that's the number you write in shoe polish on your widow. That number tells the tower your handicap, and is usually called a "dialed-in" number, which is the time you think you are going to run. Once you are familiar with your car enough to be somewhat consistent with your ET, your reaction time will likely make or break your chances of winning the race.

Let's say you dial in a 14.20 ET while your competitor dials a 13.00. Since his car is quicker by 1.20 seconds, you get that much of a head start. Theoretically, if both cars run right on to dial-ins, it should be a dead-even race.

To make it fair, racers cannot run quicker that their dial-ins. Suppose you'd run 14.19 on that 14.20, running .01 seconds quicker than your dial-in. This is called "breaking out", which means you lose. However, there's also the distinct and common possibility that both cars will break out. In this case, the car that breaks out the least wins. Let's say you ran a 14.19 with a 14.20 dial while your competitor ran 12.96 against his 13.00. Since he broke out by .04 and you broke out by only .01 second, you would win regardless of who arrived at the finish line first.

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