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Discussion Starter #1
Ok guys. I talked to my boss and actually scheduled the time off. I'm going to go to the Bradenton NMRA event March 6-9. The tricky part about it it this. I've never raced before, in fact, I've never been to a drag strip before! :( I've been to a couple of circle track events, but never been to one of these.

I just turned 50, and I'm finally going to do something that I've wanted to do my entire life. The car I'm going to drive is the one in my sig, so it's not going to be all that fast, but I just want to see what it will do, and just experience the whole deal. I've always been a sports junky, but I'm starting to get to old to play football and baseball anymore. But I think you can be a solid driver for a long time, and get that sports competition feeling just the same. Who knows I might get hooked.

For most of you guys, this is laughable, you probably can't even remember your first time out of the chute. But if you do remember, I'll bet you were wired. Well that's how I'm starting to feel already; I can hardly wait to get there.

I'd sure appreciate it if you guys could answer these questions?
What do I need to do (anything special to the car, etc.)?
What do I need to take (papers, gear, etc)?
Who do you have to talk to to enter (who do you call)?
What do you do when you get there?
What class or group should I enter my car in?
What is the routine while you're waiting to race?
What are all the things you have do when you pull up to race?
Anything else I need to do, or know?

Well, I can't be the only drag race virgin on this site itching to do this, so maybe the answers to these questions will help more than just me.

Hey guys, this is really important to me, I want to be prepared. So anything you can throw at me, I'll appreciate.

I sure wish I had my TCCoA sticker on the car before I go.... then again maybe it's better that I don't, I might embarrass the entire site.:xpD:

Thanks all.
 

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Hey Cylum,

I haven't raced yet myself (plan to this spring) so I certantly don't have all of the answers.
If you have a chance to go and watch before you race I would definatly suggest doing so. You can learn alot just by watching how everything works. You will also need to get the car inspected before racing so be sure to get there early.


Here is a link from a track near me with some good basic info.
http://www.7580dragway.com/goracing.htm
Also http://www.geocities.com/MotorCity/5335/dragfaq.htm


Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

Joe
 

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Some tracks differ from others. Here is how it goes when I go to mine:

I'd sure appreciate it if you guys could answer these questions?
Q- What do I need to do (anything special to the car, etc.)?
A- Dont need to do anything special. Some people when they get there lower the tire pressure by letter some air out. Most tracks seem to have a air hose to use to fill it up after the racing. For first time I would say to not worry about it. I dont notice any difference in my runs.

Q- What do I need to take (papers, gear, etc)?
A- At my track I don't need any papers or anything. Just a license. You only need a helmet if you get into the 13s. I dont think your car will have to worry at the moment.

Q- Who do you have to talk to to enter (who do you call)?
A-again at mine, I usually just show up at the gate (enterance). There is usually a person there that has you sign a waver saying that nother is their fault and then you get card to fill out with your info and your cars (your name, car model, year, etc.) You hand that in to a guy on your first run.

Q- What do you do when you get there?
A- There is usually the pits area. That's where people go to hang out, work on the cars, meet up with people, etc. Mine sort of has two types of pits, the one where there are the real drag cars (cars doing 10s and trailered in) and then the ones where all the street cars hang out, but it probably doesnt matter.

Q- What class or group should I enter my car in?
A- Mine has regualr street cars/domestic (You/us), imports (somtimes compacts), trucks, drag cars (dont remember the real name, its the big muscle cars and funny cars and stuff), there is even the bikes and snow mobiles.

Q- What is the routine while you're waiting to race?
A- I usually wait for a few minutes and then get back in line. It will usually take a while to get all the way around to where you are again. They run all the cars in each section for a few minutes and then switch to another class and it has to go through all the classes and back to yours. Many people pop the hoods open to let the car get some air, some also buy bags of Ice at the track to put on the intake while they are waiting. I like to talk to other racers at this time.

Q- What are all the things you have do when you pull up to race?
A- There are the staging lanes.... thats where you pull up in your class while you are waiting. There is a person that will flag you on when it is your turn to pull up. just watch where the other cars go. On mine there is two stagine lanes for most classes so the left lane goes to the left side of the track and so on for the right side. When you are flagged on to go up usually you wait behind the other car up there getting ready to launch. For mine its like 40-70 feet back that you wait. There is another guy that flags you foward once the two up there have gone. Usually thats when you can spin the tires if you want. I have heard it is good to do it and it is bad to do it. You drive through a spot they spray with water so the tire has water on it when you launch. I personaly just spin the tires like one rotation so it gets some of the water off. You pull up to where you wait for the tree. There are two little lights. Slowly pull up, one light will go on, then SLOWLY pull up until the second little light goes on. Then stop and wait for the light tree. These little lights are usually on each side of the tree somewhere. The light tree is a whole other story. You sort of have to make some runs to get use to it. Here is a good site for seeing what happends and what to do.


Q- Anything else I need to do, or know?
A- ummm, have a good time?

I just started last summer. I am 21 so I havent been into it for long. Once you do it a couple times its simple from there. After that is all about trying to get timing right. I love doing it. It's like a drug, once you go you wont wan to stop going. The track I go to and the time I usually go is bracket racing night. Its wednesday night for me so its less busy then the friday night test and tune. So the first hour or two is usually just trial runs. I can sometimes get as much as 5 runs in that time. then the bracket racing beings. If you loose at bracket racing its usually no big deal becaus there is a lane you can get in at mine that just lets you make more regular runs. I havent even been to the friday night one near me. From what I am told you can only get 3 maybe 4 runs in because of how many people. (small town, only 1/4 track). But wednesday night I have gotten 10 runs in one night sometimes. I dont find times E/T times improving at all after the 6 or 7th run but its fun to work on reaction times. If there is anyone on here that is close to you and that track that has done it before see if you can meet up with them. Thats what I did. I met up with a guy from here that has a cougar that has been doing this for a while. He showed me how it goes when I got there.
Id like to also say that I think it is cool you are doing it. I know a few people that are 50+ that have nice cars (hot rods and etc.) that use to be into drag racing "back in the day" but not now. One guy has a car that is probably a 11sec car but doesnt drag race anymore. Im trying to get him to come with me some day.

I am not saying everything I said is the way everything goes. This is just from my experiences from my local track. There are people on here that know a lot about this stuff and have been to many different tracks and many different cars in their years. If they are reading and have anything to add please do because I really like listening to what the others here have to say.

Have a good time. Take care,
-Shawn


BTW, the camaro beat me there, it was a 14second car. Oh well.
 

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If you have street tires do *not* drive through the burnout box (where they spray the water), go around it. The water is there for the slicks and drag radials. Street tires don't heat up like slicks do so you are just going to reduce the lifespan of them.

Now for technique... Stand on the brake and rev it to 1500 or so when you are at the line. As soon as the third light goes yellow, let off the brake and smoothly depress the accellerator. Too fast and you'll spin off the line, slowing you down. Too slowly and well, you don't accelerate fast enough.

If you have 3.08's you can wind it out till the end in 2nd... Put it in D like normal, nail it then after it shifts on it's own to second, bring the gear selector back to 2. As soon as you cross the line, let completely off the throttle and put it back into D. You can ask people who saw me at the Nats, the 3.08's let you start gaining or passing at the end when everyone else is shifting into 3rd.

And hey, my first time was a little under a year ago.

Since you are bracketing I assume make a couple runs to get a baseline of your times. You will make your dial-in close to or right at your best speed as they might dq for obvious dogging (slamming on the brakes before crossing the line). If you go faster than the dial-in you 'break out' and are dq'd. The theory is that with a handicap of Slowest dial-in - Fastest dial-in that you cross the line at the same time, so it comes down to who cuts the best light, runs the most consistently.
 

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ShadowDragon said:
If you have street tires do *not* drive through the burnout box (where they spray the water), go around it. The water is there for the slicks and drag radials. Street tires don't heat up like slicks do so you are just going to reduce the lifespan of them.
Thats what I hear people say. The track I go to sprays a good width of the burnout box. there is barely any room to go around it. If you do you will only if you are lucky not get one tire wet but the other would still go through. Sometimes I figure I would try to go around as much as I can to not get that one tire to get wet and sometimes I just say forget it because they are stupid there and soak the whole friggin area. I have to get out to a different track and try it out without the burnout box.

-Shawn
 

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First, you're gonna want to go on about 1/4 tank of gas. The less weight, the better. You can leave your spare tire since it is over the rear tires-- can aid in traction but it's arguable. If you want, you can buy some bags of ice on your way to the track and cool your intake manifold between runs. Try not to wet the track, though. All you really need is your driver's liscence and a car is virtually stock for. You will need to take any hub-caps and wheel covers off and make sure your battery is secure and won't shift around. Don't deflate your rear tires... It really doesn't do anything noticable with street tires-- some say to lose some pressure to increase contact patch. I don't buy it. To improve your reaction time, you may want to bump your front tire pressure about 5 lbs above normal (cold).

Once you arrive at the track, you are going to need to pay at a booth "to race." Once you pay, they will give you a tech card and a ticket or bracelet or something to that effect. Fill in all of the required info at the top of the tech card (name, age, etc.) and drive over to the tech area. There should be one or more lines of cars stopped in a remote area with their hoods up and the tech inspectors scrutinizing them. Get in line and wait for your turn. Pop your hood, give the ref your tech card, and follow directions. If you have any questions at that point, ask him. Don't be intimidated... lots of tech guys are @$$holes.

Once you are approved by tech, they will write your number on your car windows (number assigned or chosen at the front pay booth). You may have to take your tech card to one last booth where they'll give you a bracelet or ticket, yadda-yadda... This must be visible while staging.

Now comes the wait... For the first time, get in a line that has cars similar to yours. There are usually several lines, some of which are dedicated to rice boys, I mean, compacts, others dedicated to domestic street cars, another dedicated to bikes, another to trailered cars, another to dragsters, etc. Get in your corresponding line and observe everyone elses behavior. Be nice to everybody there as it makes racing more pleasant. A couple of rules that apply in the waiting lane are no driving with the hood up, and no running cars without someone behind the wheel. In other words, don't let the car idle and get out. Turn it off.

Staging. When you get to the front of the line, there will be a dude directing the next racers. He will also remind you to close your window, turn on your parking lights (if night), put on your seatbelt, and show your racing pass/token. If you want to race the guy behind you (if you set this up with that guy before hand) you want to get the dude's attention and point at your proposed opponent. If he nods, you're set. If he shakes his head for whatever reason, don't sweat it. Just race and have fun. When it's your turn, he will point at you and assign a lane. This is where staging actually begins. First, there will be a water "box." Basically a puddle of water for you to warm up your slicks. Since you probably will be on street tires, I advise you drive around the water box to the inside and omit the burnout entirely. Heating-up street radials can actually reduce traction because of a buildup of melted material. Only do a DRY burnout if you think you have crap in your tread (gravel, etc.). Here's where you need to pay attention. BEFORE you leave the water pit, you need to watch for the "go-ahead" by the next track director. That's when you can do your burnout. I suggest doing one brake-stang burnout just to see how it feels. Once you're done, you need to inch forward until you trigger the first pair of four little lights on the tree. You will be able to see when your opponent triggers his first pair, then his second. Usually, the first one to trigger the first pair waits for the opponent to trigger both of his pairs before triggering his own last pair. Once all eight of the little yellow lights are lit, it's on!!! If you happen to trigger BOTH of your yellow pairs at once, do NOT back up. Just wait for your opponent. If you PASS the sensor, back up slowly until both pairs of yellows are lit-up on your side.

The tree will light three yellows followed by a green. The green lights up exactly .5 seconds after the first yellow, therefore the .500 second perfect reaction time. Let me know if you need more of the tree explained.

My advice to you is to put your left foot on your brake and inch forward by releasing it little by little. Once you've triggered your staging lights on the tree, hold down the brake with your left, and use your right foot to bring your RPMs up to about 2500 RPMs. If your trac-lock is working well, then you can venture more RPMs. Just don't break your tires loose before you launch! When the THIRD YELLOW lights up, pull your left foot up and hammer the right down. You may want to lauch in "1" and manually shift to "2" at redline, etc. Otherwise, leave it in D with OD off. If you wait for green, the lag in your response and the cars response plus inertia will cause you to have a lousy reaction time. The important thing is that if it is a test and tune day, your RT does not matter. You will get an accurate 1/4 mile time if you get a .104 RT or a 1.602 RT. A first timer can usually hope for a .715 RT or thereabouts. It just takes practice.

15 seconds later, it's all over and you wait another half hour for another pass. But it's all worth it as you will undoubtedly find out. At the end of the strip, there will be a little light that will light-up if you win the race. Most of the time there is more than two exits at the end of the strip, so slow down gradually and exit at a comfortable speed. Don't stress if you pass the first exit. Also, check with the officials, but one lave ALWAYS exits before the other. All the tracks I have been to it's the LEFT lane. So even if you're in the right lane, finish, and are waiting for the Geo to complete its 19 second run, you need to let him out FIRST, then follow him out. Do not, under any circumstances, come back down the track. Once you exit, there will be a booth with a guy handing out time slips. He will give you yours.

I hope this fricken novel helps.

PJ

PS--- feel free to ask me any Qs.
 

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thats alot of long posts that i havent gone through yet, if it hasnt been covered yet, Rule number one - HAVE FUN!!!

you have to be a registered NMRA member ie you gotta pay $40 to join their thing, you have to have your permanent NMRA number on your car and NO shoe polish is not acceptible, so go to the local sticker place and have a set made up. youll also need to have your NMRA sticker on the windshield, and quarter windows that you get with membership from nmra, and when you get to the race, youll get a class sponsor sticker, ET bracket is the PermaCool, and modmotor is Paxton. and when all else fails refer back to rule 1.
 

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PJ-4.2L said:
The tree will light three yellows followed by a green. The green lights up exactly .5 seconds after the first yellow, therefore the .500 second perfect reaction time. Let me know if you need more of the tree explained.
No.

On a non-pro tree the lights come on in .5 second intervals.
1st light .5
2nd light .5
3rd light .5
green .5

The RT starts on the third yellow light and yes perfect reaction is .5, but that is counted from the third light not the first.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Awesome!

Thanks a ton guys, this is exactly what I'm looking for. Man, I want to get out there.

Maybe I'll get my 3.73's before I go.
I hope some people from TCCoA show; I think there are more Florida people than anywhere else on this site, it would be nice to see some of you guys.

Keep the pointers comin', I need all the help I can get.
 

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Started a long a$$ post, but 6 ppl replied beofre I was done, so...
Here is a pic of my track with the tree light etc. Crappy text editing btw. :D


Oh, have lot's of fun. It always is for me.
 

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Heh.. yeah..

<a href="http://www.shadoweb.net/tbird/03-01-12/03-1-12b.jpg"><img src="http://www.shadoweb.net/tbird/03-01-12/03-1-12b.jpg" height="480" width="640"></a>(click for larger)

The staging box is between me and the Saturn with drag radials. We've already launched (you can see the front end raised on my car anyway). The tree is just to the right of the picture.
 

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thats some good info, but there is alot more stuff when it comes to nmra, go to www.nmraracing.com and they have all the info there and an online registration, or you could register for nmra at the track, but then youll be fighting to get your permannet numbers made at the track and thats a pita, there is alot going on at the tech in and waiting to get numbers made is the last thing you want to worry about, so do it ahead of time.

i suggest going with StreetFord, its the 13.00 and slower class. its on a .500 light.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hmmm....

Are you guys saying that as soon as the 3rd yellow light lights up that's when you go?!?

Hey, when you both get staged, how much time before the lights start changing? I know this sounds stupid, but do I have time to get my feet set up with my left foot on the brake and my right on the gas and bringing up the rpms, before the tree starts? Or do I have to stage with my left foot on the brake to begin with. I tried doing this last week in the parking lot where I work and man does it feel awkward. But at least I got the feel of standing on the brake and bringing up the rpm's... and launching... for about 35 feet.... oh yeah!
 

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Yes, go on the third Yellow. Normal human reaction time is just about half a second. If you go at the third Yellow, you will actually start to go right as the green flashes. NMRA might be different, the non sponsored events I go to usually don't give you much time, it works better if you can get staged first.
 

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Aaron_T said:
Started a long a$$ post, but 6 ppl replied beofre I was done, so...
Here is a pic of my track with the tree light etc. Crappy text editing btw. :D

dude, that is a awesome view for a drag track. Heck, that would be a awesome view from anywhere. It would probably make my car slower because I would be looking at how nice the mountains look, lol.



Wow, I didnt know there is so much Tech check in's at other tracks. Mine is so simple, they dont ask for the hood to be opended or anything. They put a dot on the drives side top windshield indicating that you have handed in your tech card and car race. Mine is so small... I need to go to a real track some day. I might try to make it to English Town NJ in the summer or something.


-Shawn
 

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Shawn40th said:
Wow, I didnt know there is so much Tech check in's at other tracks.
It's not so much the track as it is the event. An actual NMRA event is going to have to go through all the loops.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Even if I screw up everything, will they still give me a time slip at the end of the run, or do they just save the printer ink and send me away.
 

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CyLum said:
Even if I screw up everything, will they still give me a time slip at the end of the run, or do they just save the printer ink and send me away.
hehe, yep youll get a slip at the end!!!! youll just have to open the hood and they will take a quick look, they only get indept with the wildstreet and pro5.0 and the bigger classes. you shoulnt have any problems with tech in.

when the second person gets staged, youll have mabey a second or 2 before the top yellow goes on. there aint that much time. i usually get my pre-stage (top) light on, then i let the other guy fully stage, then i stage, reason being is then i know how much time i have, its just habbit now. ive never seen it at a nmra race but in topfuel, you have 8 or 10 seconds to stage after prestage, after that they redlight BOTH racers.

if you have questions, there are people there to help, just ask, everyone there was a rookie at one point or an other, were all in it for the same reasons, to have fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Geez

Now that I'm starting to digest all of these posts, I'm wondering if I'm starting this at the wrong event. There are a lot of bada$$ Fords around here, and a lot of pro's too.
I don't want to tick off people who do this for a living and aren't to happy with some old dude out there just doing this to have fun.

Are there ususally a lot, or a few people, at my level who show up at these things? I mean if there are a few of us there I won't feel like I'm in the way. Man I wish a few people from here would show.
 
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