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Use the drop-down menu above to get around The Staging Light

Drag Racing Definitions

  • break-out or run-under When a car runs quicker than its dial-in, it is called a break out. That driver loses the race unless the other car breaks out by more than he did, (or red-lighted). This is called a double-breakout.
  • "Cherry Picker" A cherry picker is that guy that sits in the back of the lanes and purposefully tries to "pair-up" with whomever he thinks will be the easiest win.
  • delay box The "box", as it is usually called is an electronic device to aid the driver. The driver can dial a number into the box, called the delay. Usually used in conjunction with a transmission brake and two-step, the driver can hold down a button mounted on his steering wheel, activating the transbrake and two step, and then let go of the button the instant he sees the "first flash" of amber from the first bulb. The delay box will then count the thousandths of a second dictated by the driver, and then release the transbrake and two-step.

    The driver can adjust his reaction times by changing the number on the delay box. The theory is that a driver instinctively reacting to an initial signal (the first amber) will be quicker and more consistent than a driver that must train himself to wait for the third amber. This is indeed often the case, making the box a controversial (but legal) tool in many classes.

  • dial-in A dial-in is your educated guess or prediction of your car's ET. Dial-ins are used to handicap cars in eliminations. When two cars race, the two dial-ins are subtracted, and the slower car is given the difference in a head start. The head start is shown by the Christmas Tree coming down in his lane first. The theory is that if both drivers have identical reaction times, and both hit their dials exactly, they will meet on the finish line at exactly the same time.

    Example: You made time trials with these ET's: 15.05, 15.07, 15.01. If you decide to dial-in at 15.00, and your opponent dials a 12.00, you will receive a 3.00 second head start.

  • dumping Purposefully lifting or hitting the brakes with the intention of letting your opponent hit the finish line first, hopefully to force him to break out while you do not.
  • ET elapsed time Elapsed Time (ET) is the time between the car starting and it reaching the end of the 1/4 mile. A car "starts" or triggers the ET timer by reconnecting the staging beam (ie, when it leaves the starting line). Starting the ET timer is identical to stopping the Reaction Time (R/T) timer.
  • "Killing the tree" This phrase is said to describe a driver that has been getting consistently great reaction times. Also, "I nailed the tree on him" means that you had a much better light than your opponent.
  • lights Lights has two different meanings, which are contextual. It can either refer to the starting lights on the Christmas Tree, or the top-end 'lights' or 'eyes', which is talking about the photocells near the finish line (ie, the last 60 feet). "The lights came down..." refers to the tree, whereas, "I was ahead of him going through the lights" refers to the top end.
  • line-lock A line-lock allows the driver to set the brakes on just one set of tires. Usually, racers put a line-lock on the front tires in order to aid their burnouts. They set the brake, hold a button, and then release the brake pedal. The brakes will release on the back, but hold the front brakes until the button is released. Some people try to simulate a transbrake by having four-wheel line-locks. This allows the driver to hold the brakes with the button on the line, instead of his foot.
  • reaction time (R/T) or "light" Reaction time (R/T) indicates how much delay occurs from the last Yellow light being turned on and the car starting the Elapsed Time timer. The green light is turned on .500 seconds (.400 on Pro tree) after the last yellow, so a R/T value of .500 indicates a "perfect light". A value less than .500 indicates the car started before the Green light, which is an illegal start activating the the Red light. R/T values greater than .500 indicate how much delay occured from the Green light coming on to when the car started. The larger the delay, the greater opportunity for an opponent to start before you and gain an advantage.
  • red-lighting or "bulb" A red-light occurs if a car starts before the green light comes on. During competition, this will immediately give the win to the opponent. Racer's will often say, "He bulbed it away," meaning he lost because he red-lighted.
  • sandbagging This is the practice of dialing-in an ET that is much slower than the ET's that your car runs so that you should always hit the finish line first. In order to be an effective sandbagger, you usually must have a better reaction time than your opponent, and then hit the finish line just before your opponent to avoid breaking out.
  • stage and pre-stage: Each car is required to line-up their car at the starting line. The starting line consists of a light beam which is about 1" off the ground. Once a car moves forward enough for its front tire to block the beam from reaching the other side, the car is considered "staged". Once both cars have staged, the race can begin.

    To assist drivers in staging, a "pre-stage" beam is also used. This beam is located a few inches behind the "stage" beam. This lets drivers know when they are getting close to the stage beam.

  • top-end The finish line area: this is where the bracket racer has to make his decisions as to what tactics he is going to use to try to win the race. Will he need to hit the brakes? Will his opponent?
  • transbrake A transbrake is a device which allows a car to remain stationary even when the motor is under power. It works by placing the transmission in 1st gear and Reverse at the same time. Since both gears have the same ratio, but it opposite directions, the car cannot move. The transbrake can be released with a button, which releases the Reverse gear. Although they make for powerful launches, transbrakes can be hard on transmissions.
  • trap speed Trap Speed refers to a car's MPH measured during the last 60 feet of the 1/4-mile. By knowing the weight of a car, the trap speed is a good indicator of how much horsepower an engine is making.
  • two-step A two-step is an electrical ignition device that will "cut out" cylinders at random, after the engine rpm tries to exceed a certain point. This is basically a rev-limiter. The driver can set the low-side rpm of the two-step to be his launch rpm. With this, the driver can activate the two-step, and press the gas to the floor without over-revving the engine. You can recognize a two-step by the uneven Pop-Pop-Pop of the motor. Release the two-step, and the motor is unleashed, the throttle already wide open.

Copyright 1996-1999 Michael G. Beard

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