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A friend of mine sent me this article since I am new to the racing scene. It has some good information for the newbie and I thought that some of us might benefit from it. I am taking my car to the track this Saturday!!

Adapted from an article by Jeff Tyler

1. At Wednesday Night Drags, there are a lot of people running who are just as new to this as you are! The track officials know this, and are ready to help. If you don't know, ask.

2. When tech inspection opens (right after the gate opens) go to the tech area. If you are taking your street car, and it is not a death trap, you will pass tech. Some obvious things you need: seatbelts, safe tires (no cord showing), all lug nuts, radiator coolant overflow catch canister (the factory one is fine), no blatant fluid leaks pouring out, etc! Your battery must be firmly attached to the body of the car (doesn't move when it is pushed on). Also, shorts and tank tops are not allowed! You MUST wear long pants while racing! All the officials look for this, so don't try to sneak it by them. This is about it for a street car. If your car runs faster than 13.99, you will need a Snell 90 approved helmet. If you run faster than 11.99, then the entire game changes. However, if you’re running that well, I'll bet you've been to the track at least a time or two....The tech inspector will write your car’s number on the window where it is visible by the timing tower.

3. The track announcer will come over the PA system, and say that the staging lanes are open. Listen carefully, as some of the larger tracks have many lanes (Speedworld Motorplex has 8, numbered from your left to your right), and they may have cars of different classes report to different lanes. The staging lanes go slowly, then quickly, so stay with your car! Also, do NOT run your air conditioner. The condensation on the system will drip down onto the track. This will lead the track operator to believe that there is something wrong with your vehicle. BELIEVE ME, they look for this, and if they see something dripping, then will pull you off the starting line. When they check the liquid on the ground, and see it is plain water, they will chew your butt, and send you to the back of the staging lane.

4. At the end of the staging lanes, there will be a track official. Watch carefully, and when it is time, he will point at you, and then point where he wants you to go. His job is to pair up cars to race, then put them into correct lanes, and also make sure that your seat belt is on, all windows are rolled up. If it is near sundown, turn on your parking lights. Having at least one working tail-light is a required rule at all tracks. This is how the officials can see where you are on the track. This is so they don't send another pair of cars down the track while you are broke down at the other end. By the way, most tracks make a effort to keep near stock street cars from running against sub-10 second race cars. The faster cars will be in the Pro Street and Gambler classes.

5. Since this is for beginners, I will assume you are on street tires. Don’t drive through the waterbox! Your front tires will just pick up water in the treads, and leave it on the track, only for the rear tires to continually run over this wetted ground - not good for traction!. If you do this, you make the track dangerous for everyone, and you may be asked to leave if you do it again if you don’t then spin the tires to clean them back off. The water is for slicks, not treaded tires. Drive around the waterbox, (it’s harder to do in the right lane at Speedworld, but it can be done) then get your car centered in the lane. Back up slightly if needed. There will be another track official to guide you. For street tires, a long burnout is not necessary. Street compounds are hard, and high performance tires are specifically designed to not heat up. For cars 14 seconds or slower, the waterbox is a waste of time. If you wish, clean off your tires and warm them up with a quick, short burnout.

6. Do not pull up to the tree (the pole with the lights on it)! Every beginner does this. The staging beams are actually about 40 feet or so before the tree! Hopefully, you took my advice and watched the other cars run first, and looked to get an idea where everyone else was pulling up to. If you cant figure it out, don't worry, the starter knows it is "street night", and will help you. When he realizes you can't find the staging beams, watch him. He will walk up next to your car, and motion to you to either pull up, or back. Again, don't get embarrassed, or upset. The starter has to do that several times a night. Slowly pull forward until you see the very top, small yellow light come on. You are now "Pre-Staged". It is considered a racer's courtesy to wait for the other car to pre-stage, before staging. Then gently roll forward a few more inches, and the other small yellow light right under the top one will come on. You are now "Staged". Do not roll forward too far, or the "Pre-Staged" light will go out, and you may be required to pull back, to re-light that light. That is called "deep staging", and is usually not recommended unless you are driving your Mother's Yugo. If you do accidentally pull forward too far, and deep stage, do NOT pull back until instructed to do so by the starter. He may just start the tree anyway, and you would be sitting there in reverse! Now, watch the bottom, large yellow light (Not the green or you will be caught sleepin'!)!

7. The starter will activate the tree, and the yellow lights will come on, one at a time 0.5 seconds apart. When the last yellow light comes on, GO! By the time you react, then your car reacts, the green light will be on. Trust me. If you red light, it is no big deal. Afterward, check your reaction time, and adjust. At Speedworld, a .500 is a perfect light on a standard tree. This is different from other tracks where a perfect light is a .000.

8. Do NOT try to set a national record on your first time out. If this is your first time at the track, PLEASE make at least one pass where you are only running at 80%. This will give you a chance to see what the track feels like, what your car feels like, where the finish line is exactly, where the turn off is exactly. Your senses get overwhelmed when trying something like this the first time. This is the most fun you can have with your clothes on, but it is serious stuff too. Treat it that way. Stay in your lane at all costs.

9. Make sure you know exactly where the finish line is! Most new racers brake way too early...the speed trap beams are located 66' BEFORE the finish line beams. Make sure you are not mistaking the speed trap for the finish line!

10. Most tracks have plenty of run out area. Speedworld has something like 1/2 mile of run out area! However, other tracks like North Texas Dragway, as soon as you pass the finish line, you need to get on the brakes. When running the quarter mile, you will be running close to 100 mph at the finish line. If you slam on the brakes at those speeds, it is VERY easy to upset the chassis of the car and lose control, so be careful to not brake too hard.

11. READ THIS SECTION CAREFULLY!!! Before you run, know where the turn off roads are located. Speedworld has 2 turnoffs, with one of them located at the very end of the run out area. The turn offs go to the left side of the track and the car in the LEFT lane has the Right Of Way. NEVER, EVER turn in front of another car, crossing their lane!!!! If you are running against a REAL slow car, I will drive all the way to the last turn off, as my only other option would be to sit in my lane and wait for them to finally arrive. I don't like sitting in the middle of my lane on a race track. On another track several years ago, a street car was running a low 10 second car. The fast car had problems at the starting line, and the street car won. However, the quick car was now on the way. The street car turned in front of the 10 second car which had just cleared the traps at 128mph. A STUPID mistake that can get you and someone else killed! I also saw a kid in a Honda actually miss the first turn off, make a U Turn on the track, and come back to it. I flagged him down on the return road, and let him know that there was another turn off at the end of the track. The officials were also waiting for him at the end of the return road....

12. After you turn off, look for the timing shack, where you can pick up your timeslips. It is located on the left side of the return road, across from the Tech entrance. When they hand you your time slip, DO NOT READ IT YET! Wait until you are back to your pit to do that, for right now, you need to get out of the way! Continue back up the return road (the posted speed limit is 10 mph in the pits). If you want the seasoned people to look down on you, then go roaring around in the pit area. That is also a sure fire way to get asked to leave.

13. CONGRATULATIONS! You just made your first pass down a drag strip! I assure you that you will be hooked after just one time!
THINGS TO PACK FOR A DAY AT THE RACES:
1. Pen to fill out tech card
2. 1/4 tank of gas
3. Think about your clothes! It can get pretty cold later at night.
4. Helmet (required if your car runs 13.99 or quicker)
5. Long pants are required! If it is hot, consider taking sweat pants you can take off and on.
 
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