|It's time to change the red light rule
by Ralph Molesworth
For bracket, stock eliminator and some
other forms of handicap racing,
whenever both drivers leave before the green, the driver who has been
given the head start (because of the handicap start system) is
automatically disqualified even though the other driver may
by an even bigger margin.
This is simply not fair.
I believe the origin of this rule application has two parts.
1) The old "First Or Worst" rule of thumb. If you "foul
your opponent crossed the centerline, you still won because his
infraction was more serious than yours. If both cars
commit the same
foul, the one who commits it first is eliminated.
2) The second was the level of technology early on in drag racing that
made it impractical if not impossible to determine who fouled the
The timing equipment in the old days only knew that one car or the
broke the beam first.
Things are different now. They've been different for some time
The old, crude timing equipment (can you say "Chrondek" ?)
replaced with sophisticated computers even at the most grass roots of
tracks. Hi-Tech sensors are combined with computing power so that
driver's reaction times are measured and reported to the thousandth of
second. Reaction time measurement has not always been with us. Today's
racers take it for granted but there was a time when it didn't exist.
For some reason, when "first or worst" is applied to
breakouts, it is
the "worst" part that gets invoked. When applied to a
both drivers red-light (handicap start) it is the "first"
comes into play. There was a time when this was the best
we could do
at the level of technology. We're past that now. We know exactly who
the .499 light and who had the .399 light.
The fact is that for some races, the worst rule does apply to
red-lights. If there is a heads up start, and both drivers leave too
soon, the worst offender is eliminated. There is no reason why this
shouldn't be applied to a handicap start too.
Why should the driver being given the "spot" be penalized
for it? This
makes no more sense than if the rules were applied such that the first
car to breakout was automatically eliminated. We don't do that, we
the "worst" rule. In a handicap start, when each car
is supposed to
break the beam is relative to the handicap being used right? Why
shouldn't foul starts be considered in the same perspective?
I am not the first to raise this issue and I hope I'm not the last.
is not "rocket science". This is a simple programming
current rule application is obsolete and completely unfair. We
technology to do this almost seamlessly. Racers should get
idea because it is the right thing to do. Let the NHRA & IHRA
track operators know how you feel.
The whole purpose of the handicap start system is to give dissimilar
cars an even playing field, not to give the faster car an advantage.
Ralph 1819 S/G
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