Thunder At The Rock
The Tree

Getting a good reaction time at the starting line (better known as cutting a light) all starts with the Christmas Tree.   A “Good Light,” will give you a big advantage over your opponent, especially if you are running the slower bike.   Some racers, especially in the professional classes, are known for their consistently quick reaction times.

The Tree Explained
In simple terms, the Tree is a set of vertical lights that gives the driver a visual countdown to the start of a race.    Referring to the illustration in the top right corner, the lights are as follows, from top.


Pre-Stage Indicator Lights
The round yellow bulbs that warn you when you are getting close to the starting line and the “staged” (ready to race) position.

Stage Indicator Lights
A second set of round yellow bulbs tell you when you are on the starting line and ready to race.   The bulbs light up when the front wheels of the bike cross a beam of light that goes to a set of photo cells.   These cells trigger the timer when the bike leaves the light beam.

Countdown Lights
Pro Tree

Round amber floodlights that count down to the green “go” light.   There are two types of countdowns, or starts.   The pro start flashes all three lights simultaneously, with a .400 second difference between the amber and green lights.   This is called a Pro or .400 Tree.
Sportsman Tree or Full Tree
The (E.T) bracket start flashes one light at a time, with a .500 second difference between the last amber and the green light.   This is known as a .500 or Sportsman Tree or Full Tree.

Green Light
This is the one you’re waiting for.   When the green light flashes, it means you’re free to mash the gas pedal and make a run.   This is called the launch.

Red Light
If this bottom bulb flashes, you’re out.   The red light will go off when you leave the starting line before the green light is activated, resulting in a disqualification.   Known as “Red Lighting”, this action automatically gives the win to your opponent.   Most drivers try to begin their launch just as the last of the three amber lights goes off.   That puts the car in motion when the green light activates.   This is where most bracket races are won or lost, so time practicing your staging and launching techniques is time well spent.

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