Drag Racing is a match race which tests both reaction time and acceleration.
Brooks is a drag racing enthusiast and proprietor of Drag Times.
Drag racing, a contest between two cars starting from dead stop to determine which car can accelerate quicker to a given point. Drag racing started in the 1930's where competitors raced along desert stretches of road to see who's hot rod was faster. Over the coming years the sport became more organized and the National Hot Rod Association was formed in 1951. 54 years later, the NHRA is now the largest sanctioning body in motorsports with over 80,000 members. The International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) formed in 1970 and has a strong membership as well with events in both United States and Canada.
Most people probably got their start with drag racing on the streets, sitting at a light when your neighbor or friend pulls up, both of you itching for the light to finally turn green so you both can hammer the throttle and see who could get to the next light first. There's no doubt that it's exciting, anticipating the green light, just waiting for the right moment to send the tires screeching for traction to get the edge on the car just a few feet to your side.
With improvements in automotive technology and manufacturing, faster and more powerful cars are being released each year. Cars on the low end include the $20,000 Dodge Neon SRT-4, with a 230 horsepower turbocharged engine that can do 0-60 MPH in 5.5 seconds and the 1/4 mile in 13.9 seconds. High-end cars such as the $189,000 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG, with it's 604 horsepower twin- turbocharged V12 engine can do 0-60 in less than 4 seconds and the 1/4 mile in 11.6 seconds. These cars are made to be fun and exciting, but it's important to exercise restrain on the city streets with them.
Most people who purchase a high performance vehicle want to take it out and see what it can do, especially against other cars. While it's tempting to do this on the city streets, it's also very dangerous. Not only are there severe penalties for drag racing on public roads, it also endangers many others on the street. Many lives have been lost due to drag racing contests on city streets.
There are hundreds of places to test our your car's performance in a safe and regulated environment, your local Drag Strip. Drag racing facilities are specially equipped for testing how quick you can get your car from 0 to 1320 feet, more commonly known as the 1/4 mile. Most tracks operate in a similar fashion and have special nights set aside for normal street cars to 'test and tune' or drag race the 1/4 mile for a nominal fee of $10 - $20. The track will have paramedics and other safety personal ready to respond to any accidents should they occur.
Each car that will be racing is given a tech inspection to make certain that is safe to compete in the 1/4 mile contest. After the car has passed inspection, it's time to line up and get ready to race. Two cars are signaled by track personnel to pull up to the staging area, a portion of the track used to line up the two cars evenly at the starting line. The Christmas Tree is a setup of lights used to line up both cars and signal the start of the race.
At the top of the Christmas Tree are the Pre-Stage bulbs, as the drivers pull slowly forward to the starting line, they will activate the Pre-Stage bulbs. These bulbs indicate the cars are very close to the starting line. As the drivers continue to move slowly forward, the 2nd set of bulbs, the Stage bulbs will illuminate. When both Pre-Stage and Stage bulbs for both cars are illuminated, the cars are lined up and ready to go. At this point the track personal will activate the Christmas Tree to start the race.
Upon activation, the Christmas Tree will begin flashing a series of lights. Starting from under the Stage bulbs, there are 3 amber lights, followed by a green light, and then finally a red light. Each light is flashed a half-second apart ; amber - amber - amber - green. Once the green lights are on, both cars should be rocketing down the drag strip 1320 feet towards the finish line. If either car leaves the starting line too quickly, the red light is flashed, and that car automatically loses the race.
After passing through the finishing line there will be a long stretch of road to allow the cars to slow down. There are usually a few exits from the track along the way for the cars to turn around and head back to the timeslip booth to pickup a printed ticket containing the details of their race. The timeslip will usually show how long in seconds it took to get to various points down the track; 60', 330' , 1000', and 1320'. It will also data on how fast the car was traveling in MPH at the half-way point (1/8 mile) and finish line (1/4 mile), and of course who won the race.
Racing at the drag strip is a great way to safely and legally test out the capabilities of your car while improving your driving skills at the same time. It's also a great place to meet up with other people with similar interests. So the next time your sitting at a stop light and the car next to you is instigating you into a drag race by revving his engine, tell 'em to take it off the street and to the strip! Brooks Weisblat is drag racing/sports car enthusiast and owner of DragTimes.com, an online drag racing database of 1/4 mile times for cars and motorcycles. To view thousands of 1/4 mile timeslips and participate in online drag racing discussion forums, visit: http://www.dragtimes.com/.
This article originally appeared at Ezine Articles, and is used with permission from Brooks Weisblat. Here are more Ezine Articles by Brooks: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Brooks_Weisblat
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