Bob Morreale, President of The Tuning School, knows a thing or two about the dragstrip. He also has taken quite a few people to the track for the first time, and understands the nerves that can build up over the experience. When you aren’t sure what exactly you’re getting yourself in to, you might be a little intimidated by the track, but that’s not the point of going to the track. Knowing what you’re doing and what to expect before you go will help you have a fun and safe time, just like the dragstrip is intended to offer racers. Whether this is your first go, or maybe it’s been awhile, this advice will get you revved up for your next track day.
Probably the number one thing track workers and other racers want you to know before hitting the track is, turn your dang air conditioner off in the staging lanes and especially before you lineup at the tree! This creates a dangerous and slippery mess for the guys behind you from the condensation coming off the system. Also, come with helmet, pants, and sneakers to race in; you’re not getting through tech in your cargo shorts and flip flops, nor should you.
The next tip is more of a suggestion than a golden rule like the first two, but Morreale recommends running on your street tires the first time you bring your car to the track. This is probably a good idea, even if your car is a beast; it will give you a chance to get a feel for the track and improve your driving skills. While on your street tires, don’t drive through the burnout box, swing out around it, and back into it to do a burnout to avoid dragging water to the line.
Pull up to the lights very slowly until the first set of yellow lights illuminates, then very, very slowly creep forward about an inch until the next set lights up. Once both of those yellow lights are tripped, the operator is signaled that you’re ready to go. From here, be prepared, and once that last yellow light, before green, goes off, go! Don’t wait for the green, you’ll lose. This is an area that will take some fine-tuning so you’re leaving at the sweet spot between too early, and too late so you can work on getting a perfect reaction time; don’t stress this too much, your reaction times will probably be mortifying the first few times until you figure it out.
Now that you’re out of the hole, you’ll be measured at the 60’ mark, 1/8-mile, 1000’, and 1/4-mile mark. You’ll pick up your slip from the shack at the turnoff of the track; grab your slip and try to read to it see where you can improve. Work on honing in your driving skills before you start making changes to the car, and when your running that car as fast or better than the factory claims, then you can move on to modifications. Even in a stock automatic, you’re probably not running your best runs on your very first track day, so get that driver mod out of the way first.
This is a two-part series, so stay tuned for the second installment, we’ll update once it’s posted for more drag racing tips.
Elizabeth is hardcore horsepower enthusiast with unmatched intensity for making things faster and louder. She wakes up for power and performance and only sleeps to charge up for the next project that’s heading to the track. From autocross to drag racing, Elizabeth is there with you, so stay tuned for her unique perspective on horsepower news, builds, tech info, and installs — with her, it’ll never be boring!