Thunder At The Rock
The Basics Of Motorcycle Drag Racing

What Is A Motorcycle Drag Race
In basic terms, a Motorcycle Drag Race is an acceleration contest from a standing start between two motorcycles over a measured distance.   The accepted standard for that distance is either a quarter-mile or an eighth-mile.    These contests are started by means of an electronic device commonly called a “Christmas Tree”. Upon leaving the starting line, each contestant activates a timer, which is stopped when the same motorcycle reaches the finish line.  The start-to-finish clocking is the motorcycle’s E.T. (Elapsed Time), which serves to measure the performance of you and your motorcycle.

Who Can Compete
Racers are the Starts of the Strip!    Yes the motorcycle and you the rider must meet a basic safety criteria (i.e.; have good brakes, be equipped with good tires, the rider properly dressed to race, ect.).   This applies to most street legal, mildly modified motorcycles and all racers.    Faster, all-out race motorcycles must meet more stringent requirements for safety.

Safety’s Importance Brief Summation
Responsibility for the safe condition and operation of your motorcycle in competition rests with the motorcycle’s owner and rider.   The track operator does his or her best to provide safe racing conditions for all motorcycle racers and the spectators.

Timing Methods
Two separate performances are monitored for each run, the elapsed time and the speed. On an elapsed time run, the motorcycle first leaves the starting line “breaking” the beam, which activates the electronic timer.    As the motorcycle continues through the course, the timer records the elapsed seconds and fractions of seconds until the motorcycle breaks the finish line beam and stops the timer.    Top speed (mph) is determined by the motorcycle breaking two additional light beams at the finish line.

“Reaction Time” (Hope this makes sense)
Both motorcycles cover the eight-mile or quarter-mile in exactly the predetermined elapsed time (each “dial-in”), the win will go to the driver who reacts quickest to the starting signal.   That reaction to the starting signal is called “Reaction Time.” A perfect “reaction time” is .50 because that is the interval between each illumination of lights on the “Christmas Tree”.   Both lanes are timed independently of one another, and the clock does not start until the vehicle actually moves. Because of this, a vehicle may sometimes appear to have a mathematical advantage in comparative elapsed times but actually loses the race.    This fact makes starting line reflexes extremely important in drag racing! And you thought it was simple right?   Well, actually there’s more, read on.

The Starting System
Drag racing is a pairing of two motorcycles against one another in a race on a straight and smooth course.   The start is the key to its uniqueness, because all races start from a standstill.   Today’s modern starting system, commonly referred to as the “Christmas Tree”, is a product of continued development and designed to provide each competitor with the fairest start possible.   The system features a vertical series of lights, displaying a visual countdown for each rider.   Most riders try to make their move between the last amber light going off and the green light coming on.   Technique in staging and starting is one of the most vital skills a drag racer can develop, since many races are won or lost at the starting line.   Close observation and a lot of practice pay off.

The “Dial-In”
Motorcycle “A” has been timed at 17.78, 17.74 and 17.76 seconds for the quarter-mile, and the driver feels that a “dial-in” (or guessed time during a race) of 17.75 is appropriate.    Meanwhile, the driver of motorcycle “B” has recorded elapsed times of 15.27, 15.22 and 15.26 on the same track and he has opted for a “dial-in” of 15.25. Accordingly, motorcycle “A” will get a 2.5 second head start over motorcycle “B” when the “Christmas Tree” counts down to each motorcycles starting green lights.

What is E.T. Racing ( Bracket Racing ) and How does it work
By far the most popular form of drag racing is a handicapped form of competition known as “E.T. Bracket Racing.”   This form of drag racing offers a good starting point for the novice wishing to become involved in the sport.   Thousands of drag racers enjoy E.T. Handicap Racing so much that they have participated in it for many years.   In this form of racing, two motorcycles of varying performance potentials can race on a potentially even basis.   The anticipated elapsed times for each vehicle are compared, with the slower motorcycle receiving a head start equal to the difference of the two.   With this system, virtually any two vehicles can be pared in a competitive drag race.   The accepted standard for that distance is either a quarter-mile (1,320 feet) or an eighth-mile (660 feet).   A drag racing event is a series of two-vehicle, tournament-style elimination’s.   The losing driver in each race is eliminated, and the winning drivers progress until one driver remains.

What is A Pro Tree and How does it work
With the “Pro Tree” you stage just like in the Sportsman Tree but the three amber lights illuminate at exactly the same instant and the green light follows exactly .4 seconds later. The goal is to anticipate the “green light” and be as close to the .4 second interval as possible. Anything under the .4 second interval is a red light.

If both motorcycles cover the one eight mile or quarter-mile in exactly the predetermined elapsed time, the win will go to the rider who reacts quickest to the starting signal.   That reaction to the starting signal is called “reaction time”.   Both lanes are timed independently of one another, and the clock does not start until the motorcycle actually moves.   Because of this, a motorcycle may sometimes appear to have an advantage in comparative elapsed times, but mathematically, actually lose the race once the reaction time is factored in.   This fact makes starting line reflexes extremely important in drag racing.

What Is A “Break Out”
Should a rider go quicker than his/her predetermined E.T. “dial-in”, it is a “break-out” and is grounds for disqualification.  In the case of both motorcycles making their runs under their dial-ins, the win goes to the rider who breaks out the least.

What Is A “Red Light”
Another form of disqualification is a foul start (or “red light”).   This happens when the driver reacts to the “Christmas Tree” too quickly and drives his motorcycle away from the starting line before the green “go” signal.   Should dual infractions occur, a red light and then a breakout, the red light would be classified as the worst infraction.

Who Wins What
A drag racers primary objective is to become the overall winner of the category of competition in which his/her motorcycle is classified.   A series of two-motorcycle, tournament-style eliminations are conducted.   The losing motorcycle in each race is eliminated, while the winning riders progress into succeeding rounds of competition.   This series of races continues until one winning rider remains.    That rider is declared the categories winner.


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Summerfield NC 27358
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