If you want to get into drag racing, check your heist fantasies at the door, because, while you might’ve gotten a taste of what you thought drag racing might look like from the Need for Speed or Fast & Furious franchises, this is a whole different game. Drag racing is no longer the illegal and underground sport it used to be.
Where Did Drag Racing Come From?
Starting in California after the second world war, drag racing was born from adrenaline-seeking gearheads wanting to test their prowess against one another. Early games like “chicken” and “pedestrian poker” emphasized the element of danger and recklessness that earned it a bad reputation among police and townspeople. Where the term “drag racing” came from is ultimately unknown.
It wasn’t until The Southern California Timing Association, and the National Hot Rod Association were established that the sport became organized and created their national competitions. Since then, drag racing has evolved to become a family-friendly sport where craftsmanship and skill are put to the test.
What is Drag Racing Now?
Generally, drag racing is a competition between two racers to see who can first reach the predetermined destination. Each race is driven on a drag strip inside a stadium. While distances may vary for each competition, the standard length is a quarter-mile long.
Most racing events use a typical bracket system to determine who the winner of each race advances to compete against next until a single champion is achieved. Though the winner is determined by the first to cross the finish line, racers compete against themselves to beat their records in several categories. For each race, reaction time, elapsed time, and speed are measured for each competitor using electronic devices.
What Car Can I Use?
Well, that depends on which class you choose and the organization you are competing in. Drag racing has many different categories that determine the restrictions and requirements for the vehicle you can use.
Top Fuel Dragsters, or diggers, are among the fastest-class vehicles in the sport, achieving high speeds of over three-hundred miles per hour. These cars use fuel composed of ninety percent nitromethane to achieve these speeds. Top Alcohol Dragsters are similar to diggers, but their engines use a methanol fuel instead and achieve speeds of about three-hundred miles per hour. Pro Stock, or door slammers, is a class that vaguely resembles standard street vehicles and can reach speeds of over two-hundred miles per hour.
How Do I Race?
Before racing, competitors “pass.” This is where they perform a burnout to heat their tires, which in turn increases their traction. Then, they line up at the starting line, known as “stages.”
While you might picture someone giddily waving a flag to start the race, you won’t see this in any formal drag race. A Christmas Tree is used to signal the start of the race. Once a vehicle is moved to the starting line, a light beam is triggered to light up the first bulb on the Christmas Tree, signaling the driver is ready to begin. Then, a countdown is signaled using the remaining lights, and the race starts..
Is That All?
Yep! It might sound simple, but that’s the point– no fluff, no tricks. Your skill and the ability of your vehicle are what drag racing truly boils down to. Make sure you build your vehicle well and get plenty of practice sessions under your belt before you speed off to your first race.