WHAT IS DRAG RACING?

Drag Racing is a type of motor racing in which automobiles or motorcycles compete, usually two at a time will race over a set distance to get across a finish line. The are mainly two ways this is achieved, which are either heads up (first across the line) or by way of racing using a handicapped system. The race follows a short, straight course from a standing start over a measured distance, most commonly 1⁄4 mi (1,320 ft; 402 m), with a shorter (1,000 ft (305 m)) distance becoming increasingly popular, as it has become the standard for Top Fuel dragsters and funny cars, where some major bracket races and other sanctioning bodies have adopted it as the standard and the third distance is 1⁄8 mi (660 ft; 201 m) Which is what the SUNSET STRIP is. 1/8th mile has gained huge popularity in some circles. Electronic timing and speed sensing systems have been used to record race results since the 1960s.

The history of automobiles and motorcycles being used for drag racing is nearly as long as the history of motorised vehicles themselves, and has taken the form of both illegal street racing and as a regulated motorsport.

History

Drag racing started in the 1940s. World War II veterans were prominently involved, and some early drag races were done at decommissioned aircraft bases with landing strips that made them an ideal place for the sport. In 1951, Wally Parks formed the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). The organisation banned the use of nitromethane in 1957, calling it unsafe, in part through the efforts of C. J. Hart; the ban would be lifted in 1963

Basics of drag racing - Mostly American Based Data

Starting

Push starts to get engines running were necessary until the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) mandated self-starters in 1976. After burnouts, cars would be pushed back by crews; this persisted until NHRA required reversing systems in 1980. Don Garlits was the first to do burnouts across the starting line, which is now standard practice. Each driver then backs up to and stages at the starting line.

Prerace preparations

Before each race (commonly known as a pass), each driver is allowed to perform a burnout, which heats the driving tires and lays rubber down at the beginning of the track, improving traction. The cars run through a "water box" (formerly a "bleach box", before bleach was replaced by flammable traction compound, which produced spectacular, and dangerous, flame burnouts; the hazard led NHRA to mandate use of water in the 1970s).

Modern races are started electronically by a system known as a Christmas tree, which consists of a column of lights for each driver/lane, and two light beam sensors per lane on the track at the starting line. Current NHRA trees, for example, feature one blue light (split into halves), then three amber, one green, and one red. When the first light beam is broken by a vehicle's front tire(s), the vehicle is "pre-staged" (approximately 7 inches (180 mm) from the starting line), and the pre-stage indicator on the tree is lit. When the second light beam is broken, the vehicle is "staged", and the stage indicator on the tree is lit. Vehicles may then leave the pre-stage beam, but must remain in the stage beam until the race starts.

Staging

Once one competitor is staged, their opponent has a set amount of time to stage or they will be instantly disqualified, indicated by a red light on the tree. Otherwise, once both drivers are staged, the system chooses a short delay at random (to prevent a driver being able to anticipate the start), then starts the race. The light sequence at this point varies slightly. For example, in NHRA Professional classes, three amber lights on the tree flash simultaneously, followed 0.4 seconds later by a green light (this is also known as a "pro tree"). In NHRA Sportsman classes, the amber lights illuminate in sequence from top to bottom, 0.5 seconds apart, followed 0.5 seconds later by the green light (this is also known as a "sportsman tree" or "full tree").

If a vehicle leaves the starting line before the green light illuminates, the red light for that lane illuminates instead, and the driver is disqualified (also known as red lighting). In a handicap start, the green light automatically lights up for the first driver, and the red light is only lit in the proper lane after both cars have launched if one driver leaves early, or if both drivers left early, the driver who red lite first is given the red light penalty,  Even if both drivers leave early, the green light is automatically lit for the driver that left last, 

Measurements

Several measurements are taken for each race: reaction time, elapsed time, and speed. Reaction time is the period from the green light illuminating to the vehicle leaving the staging beams or breaking the guard beam. Elapsed time is the period from the vehicle leaving the starting line to crossing the finish line. Speed is measured through a speed trap covering the final 66 feet (20 m) to the finish line, indicating average speed of the vehicle in that distance.

Except where a breakout rule is in place, the winner is the first vehicle to cross the finish line, and therefore the driver with the lowest combined reaction time and elapsed time. Because these times are measured separately, a driver with a slower elapsed time can actually win if that driver's advantage in reaction time exceeds the elapsed time difference. In heads-up racing, this is known as a holeshot win. In categories where a breakout rule is in effect (some of these classes are Junior Dragster, Super Sedan, Super Gas, Modified, and Supercharged Outlaws, as well as numerous other dial-in classes), if a competitor is faster than his or her predetermined time (a "breakout"), that competitor loses. If both competitors are faster than their predetermined times, the competitor who breaks out by less time wins. Regardless, a red light foul is worse than a breakout, except in Junior Dragster where exceeding the absolute limit is a cause for disqualification.

Bracket system

Most race events use a traditional bracket system, where the losing car and driver are eliminated from the event while the winner advances to the next round, until a champion is crowned. Events can range from 16 to over 100 car brackets. Drivers are typically seeded by elapsed times in qualifying. In bracket racing without a breakout (such as NHRA Competition Eliminator), pairings are based on times compared to their index (faster than index for class is better).

A popular alternative to the standard eliminations format is the Chicago Style format (also called the Three Round format in Australia), named for the US 30 Dragstrip in suburban Gary, Indiana where a midweek meet featured this format. All entered cars participate in one or more qualifying rounds, and then are paired for the competition rounds. The two most consistent racers from their bracket will then race in the final championship round. Depending on the organisation, the next two fastest times may play for third, and fourth.

Dial-in

A 'dial-in' is a time the driver estimates it will take his or her car to cross the finish line, and is generally displayed on one or more windows so the starter can adjust the starting lights on the tree accordingly. The slower car will then get a head start equal to the difference in the two dial-ins, so if both cars perform perfectly, they would cross the finish line dead even. If either car goes faster than its dial-in (called breaking out), it is disqualified regardless of who has the lower elapsed time; if both cars break out, the one who breaks out by the smallest amount wins. However, if a driver had jump-started (red light) or crossed a boundary line, both violations override any break out (except in some classes with an absolute break out rule such as Junior classes).

The effect of the bracket racing rules is to place a premium on consistency of performance of the driver and car rather than on raw speed, in that victory goes to the driver able to precisely predict elapsed time, whether it is fast or slow. This in turn makes victory much less dependent on budget, and more dependent on skill, making it popular with casual weekend racers

Distances

The standard distance of a drag race is 1,320 feet, 402 m, or 1/4 mile( +- 0,2% FIA & NHRA rules). However, due to safety concerns, certain sanctioning bodies (notably the ANDRA for its Top Fuel) have shortened races to 1,000 feet. Some drag strips are even shorter and run 660 feet, 201 m, or 1/8 mile. The 1,000 foot distance is now also popular with bracket racing, especially in meets where there are 1/8 mile cars and 1/4 mile cars racing together. Some classes that deal with extreme horsepower and small racing tyres use the 1/8 mile distance, even if the tracks are 1/4 mile tracks.

Australia

 

The first Australian Nationals event was run in 1965 at Riverside raceway, near Melbourne. The Australian National Drag Racing Association (ANDRA) was established in 1973, and today they claim they are the "best in the world outside the United States". ANDRA sanctions races throughout Australia and throughout the year at all levels, from Junior Dragster to Top FuelThe ANDRA Drag Racing Series is for professional drivers and riders and includes Top Fuel, Top Alcohol, Top Doorslammer (similar to the USA Pro Modified class), Pro Stock (using 400 cubic inch engines (6.5 litres)), Top Bike and Pro Stock Motorcycle.

The Summit Sportsman Series is for ANDRA sportsman drivers and riders and includes Competition, Super Stock, Super Compact, Competition Bike, Supercharged Outlaws, Top Sportsman, Modified, Super Sedan, Modified Bike, Super Street and Junior Dragster and Super Gas.

In 2015, after a dispute with ANDRA, Sydney Dragway, Willowbank Raceway and the Perth Motorplex invited the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) to sanction events at their tracks. Shortly thereafter the Perth Motorplex reverted to ANDRA sanction. Although greatly assisted by ANDRA prior to its construction, Springmount Raceway opted for IHRA sanction. The 400 Thunder Series targets professional racers to its races. Intended to be the premier Drag racing series in Australia it has never been able to run a truly National series and has been on a steady decline since its inception. Most recently Top Fuel Australia (the organization that represents the Top Fuel owners) recently extracted itself from the 400 Thunder series. ANDRA recently launched a new National series that will initially cater for Top Doorslammer and Top Fue Motorcycle. This series will provide a greater National coverage than the 400 Thunder Series did and will soon add other Professional categories.