- One of the things to keep in mind is what
type of tire you will be running on, street tires, dragradials
or slicks, since different tire types require a few different
techniques. Most of my personal experience is on street
tires but I’m running dragradials now and have gathered
information on running the best on these as well as running on
slicks. Enjoy your track experience and HAVE FUN!
- Prep your car well before heading to the
track. If you haven’t changed your oil in a while it
wouldn’t be a bad idea to change it before hand. You
will be flogging your car pretty hard…clean oil would be a
‘good thing’. Remove any ‘extras’ items you have
in the backseat, truck, etc… extra weight will just
slow you down. I personally like to run in full street
trim…in other words running just like I do on the street.
Some people however have large stereo equipment (speaker
boxes) that could be removed if they are trying for their
quickest time. Leave this stuff at home…..it could
easily be stolen at the track.
- Try to have anywhere from ½ to ¼ tank of
gas while running down the strip. A full tank is just
extra weight and will only hurt your times.
- First time at any track I suggest walking to
the ¼ mile point to see exactly where the end is located.
My first experience at the track I didn’t do this and
discovered I was letting off too early. The end markers
were not easy to see travelling in excess of 100mph so
knowing where the end is will help you tremendously.
Also take note of where the turnoffs are since you’ll need
to come back down the return lane after your runs.
- Watch a few of the cars there make their runs
before jumping in line to race. Watch the ‘Tree’ and
how the lights work and when the other cars are leaving the
line. Watch how they pull into the staging lanes and
stage…this can save you from some embarrassment when it’s
your turn to stage J
- Bring a helmet with you! If you don’t
have one see if a buddy has one you can borrow, you’re going
to need it. Also many tracks require you to wear
longpants (no shorts) so be prepared.
- Turn off your air-conditioner (good idea
before getting to the track) as running the AC is a big NO –
NO! The condenser will collect moisture from the air and
drip it on to the track….doing this is an easy and quick way
to get thrown off the track! If it’s hot…it’s hot.
Have your windows down before staging to keep cool.
- Move your seat forward….you are not
‘cruising’ around so looking ‘cool’ is not a
requirement now J Jamming yourself up close to
everything will assist you in shifting and hitting those
gears! It really works. My first outing I had
forgotten this ‘tip’ and missed 3rd gear…DOH! I
moved the seat up for my next run and had no trouble hitting
3rd gear and dropped my times from 13.9 (missed 3rd) to 13.5.
You are closer to the pedals and shifter so you are definitely
getting the gas pedal to the floor and hitting those shifts
faster and harder.
- Tire pressure…this you’ll have to
experiment with. For street tires I recommend only
dropping a few pounds of pressure (if you run 30
normally…try 25). For dragradials you want lower
though again it depends on brand and trial and error.
I’ve heard 18psi is a good place to start and then work down
from there. Slicks…no experience so I don’t want to
tell you anything wrong.
- Now you’re in line, waiting for your turn.
You’ve removed any extra weight, have about ¼ to ½ tank of
gas, the AC is off, you’ve moved your seat closer and
you’re wearing your helmet and have your seat belt on and
you’ve adjusted your tire pressure accordingly…….now
you’ll get nervous J
- The WATERBOX: This is the first thing
you’ll have to do when it’s your time to stage.
Street tires….DO NOT drive through the waterbox, drive
around it. There is at no point in your runs that you
will ever need to get your tires wet. This is very
important as it could get you thrown off the track.
Treaded tires (street tires) will only pick up water and drag
it out on the track, not good. Plus it will make your
tires slippery and will cause you to run worse times.
Drive around the waterbox and into the staging lanes.
You also do NOT need to do a burnout on street tires.
Heating up a street tire will make it harder and slippery,
again resulting in slower times (and also extra wear on your
tires). Do a quick spin to clean the dirt off and then
begin your staging. Dragradial users will want to drive
around the waterbox and then back the rear tires into it and
do a quick spin to get them wet. Pull out of the
waterbox and do your burnout. Here’s what you’ll do,
put your car in 2nd, rev high and drop the clutch. Move
your clutch foot to the brakes and stand on them.
You’ll be smoking your tires and you’ll want to count to
about 7 and then remove your foot from the brakes and you’ll
start to move forward while still spinning the tires.
Clutch in…off the gas and then continue your staging.
Slicks…..drive around the waterbox, back the rear tires into
the waterbox and do a quick spin…..DO NOT do your burnout in
the waterbox! The quick spin is to get the tires wet all
around and after doing that you pull out of the waterbox to do
your burnout. Again rev and dumped, stand on the brakes
and get ‘em hot….and proceed to stage.
- Staging…..this is the tricky part so pay
attention while doing this. There are two ‘staging
lights’ and they are extremely close together…about 2-3
inches (at least it feels like that). Remember how we
watched the other cars stage when we first got to the track?
Well now we use the knowledge gained there to assist ourselves
in staging. The staging lights are two smaller lights at
the top of the tree. You’ll pull up slowly and light
the first (top) light. This is called pre-staging.
It’s ‘suggested’ to let your opponent then pre-stage and
then stage (lighting the second light) before you complete
your staging. Once your opponent has staged….move ever
so slowly until you trip the second light, completing your
staging (again…it feels like it’s about 2-3 inches of
movement to trip the second light). Now that both cars
are staged watch the tree and be on your toes….it’s RACE
- The TREE: Typically you’ll be on a
sportsman tree (three yellow lights then green) but you may
run on a pro tree (all yellows light at the same time then
green). If it’s the typical sportsman tree you’ll
want to launch on the last yellow! Remember that, the
last yellow. Do NOT wait for green and do NOT anticipate
the last yellow. Watch the last yellow light and when it
lights….GO! If you wait for the green you will have a
bad reaction time and if you anticipate the last yellow you
will probably redlight. Leaving on the last yellow will
usually net you a pretty decent reaction time (.500 being
perfect). One thing to keep in mind though…..your
reaction time has NOTHING to do with your ET! So if you
are just running for timeslips…don’t worry too much about
your reaction time and concentrate on your launch technique
and driving. Reaction time will affect the race itself
as to who gets to the finish line first. If two equally
fast cars are running and car A gets a better reaction time
than car B, car A will ‘win’ though when they both pick up
their timeslips they have run identical times.
- Launching….real tricky here. Every
car will be different depending on weight of car, amount of
torque, type of tires, etc… so you’ll have to play with
this. Do not launch at idle or you will bog. I got
my best 60 ft.’s using around a 1,000-1,200rpm clutch walk
(sort of the middle ground between a dump and a slip) on
street tires in my ’97 Cobra (2.02 60’ ). Dragradial
users will probably want to dump the clutch around
3,500-4000rpms and slick users even higher. You’ll
have to experiment and see what works best for your car.
The track and the street are completely different so being
able to launch well on the street doesn’t mean you’ll
launch well (the same way) on the track. Practice and
5.0 (stock or mildly modded) shift around
5,300 – 5,500rpms
96-’98 SOHC (stock or mildly modded) shift
‘96-’98 DOHC (stock or mildly modded)
shift at 7,000rpms!
‘99-’00 SOHC (stock or mildly modded)
shift around 6,000rpms
’99 DOHC (stock or mildly modded) shift
between 6,300 and 7,000rpms…experiment.
- After your run (crossing the finish line)
apply braking as needed and prepare for the turn-off roads.
If the turn-off is on the right side the car in the right lane
turns off first…..no matter which car reached the turn-off
first. If the turn-off is on the left…the car in the
left lane turns off first. It would really suck to win a
race and then as you start your turn off the other car barrels
into you because they hadn’t started braking or their brakes
failed. Always Always Always let the car in the
lane with the turn-off have the right away!
made your run, drove to the ‘shack’ and picked up your
timeslip….proceed back to the pits (to park) or get back in line
for another run. Now you can check your timeslip.
Remember…it’s all in fun!