A drag strip
is an offroad
track used to measure how fast a driver
and his vehicle
from a stop and cover some predefined linear
distance. Drag strips can be used by a single individual to tune a car to optimum performance, or by two people for contest. You see drag
competitions frequently on Speedvision
Most drag strips are either 1/4 mile or 1/8 mile, the former being the more popular. 1/4 mile times are what many people use to compare the relative power of their cars and their own driving skill.
On a strip there are generally two lanes, one for each vehicle. There is a staging area, where the drivers can get into the car and prepare it for the race. You see a lot of guys doing burnouts to heat up their drag slicks in the staging area. There is the staging line where the actual race begins. This consists of (usually) a weight sensitive strip across each lane that allows the computer timing system to determine when each car is on the line and ready to go.
The tree is a column of lights usually placed at the end of the staging area between each lane. It has a set of lights for each lane. The top two small orange lights are staging lights and will both light when the car in that lane is on the staging line and ready to launch. Next on the column are three yellow lights. These flash on and off in sequence when the race is beginning to let each driver prepare for the launch. Directly underneath the last yellow light is the green light which obviously means GO!! Below each green light is a red light which is used to signify a fault, or if one of the drivers launched before the green.
Most drag strips have optical trip switches which are used to determine when your car has passed through the 60 foot mark, and through the 1/4 mile mark.
After the drag race is finished, each driver is usually given a timeslip with several statistics written on it. Among these statistics are :
R/T : (reaction time) how fast you reacted and got off the line after the green light.
60' : (60 foot time) how fast it took you to go from a standstill to 60 feet. This gauges how well you are able to launch your car from a dead stop.
1/8 : (1/8 mile time) self explanatory.
1/4 : (1/4 mile time) self explanatory.
MPH : (trap speed) How fast you were going when you crossed through the traps at the end. This is often an indicator of how much horsepower the vehicle is making. While you may have gotten a crummy launch resulting in poor 60' and 1/4 time, your acceleration afterwards may have been spectacular.
Drag racing stresses the engine and the drivetrain of a vehicle to the maximum. If you go out expecting to break parts, you may just. Be careful!