Holly Springs Motorsports
Drag Racing 101


What is a drag race?
In basic terms, a drag race is an acceleration contest from a standing start between two vehicles over a measured distance at a specifically designed drag race facility. These contests are started by means of an electronic device commonly called a Christmas Tree." Upon leaving the starting line, each contestant activates a timer that is, in turn, stopped when the same vehicle reaches the finish line. The start-to-finish clocking is the vehicle's e.t. (elapsed time), which serves to measure performance and often serves to determine handicaps during competition.

What is Bracket (E.T.) Racing?
By far the most popular form of drag racing is a handicapped form of competition known as E.T. bracket racing. In this form of racing, two vehicles of varying performance potentials can race on a potentially even basis. The anticipated elapsed times for each vehicle are compared, and the slower car receives a head start equal to the difference of the two. With this system, virtually any two vehicles can be paired in a competitive drag race.

For Example: Car A has been timed at 17.78, 17.74, and 17.76 seconds on the quarter-mile, and the driver feels that a dial-in of 17.75 is appropriate. Meanwhile, the driver of car B has recorded elapsed times of 15.27, 15.22, and 15.26 on the same track and has opted for a dial-in of 15.25. Accordingly, car A will get a 2.5-second head start against car B when the Christmas Tree counts down to each car's starting green lights. If both vehicles cover the quarter-mile in exactly the predetermined elapsed time, the win will go to the driver who reacts quickest to the starting signal. That reaction to the starting signal is called reaction time. Both lanes are timed independently of one another, and the clock does not start until the vehicle actually moves. Because of this, a vehicle may sometimes appear to have a mathematical advantage in comparative elapsed times but actually lose the race. This fact makes starting-line reflexes extremely important in drag racing!

What is a Breakout and/or Red-Light?
Should a racer go quicker than his or her predetermined dial-in, it is a breakout and grounds for disqualification. If both racers make runs under their dial-ins, the win goes to the racer who breaks out the least. Another form of disqualification is a foul start, or red light. This happens when the racer reacts to the Christmas Tree too quickly and leaves the starting line before the green go signal. When dual infractions occur (for example, a red-light and then a breakout), the red-light takes precedence over the breakout.




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