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Logbooks


Disclaimer: While based on facts about drag racing, this page contains the personal views and opinions of one racer - Michael Beard


I am admittedly a stat-monger. I keep all kinds of statistics about the racing operation. When I started bracket racing, I saw some people keeping notes in a logbook, and as a way to keep track of how my car has progressed, and to keep the memory of races won safe in a written history, I made a logbook, too. It has become more than that. A logbook is more than just a record-keeping device, it is a tool.

Started simply at first, I used to write down all the information on my time slip in my logbook. In elimination rounds, I would put an asterisk in the ET column if I had hit the brakes. When I moved up to the Heavy Eliminator class, I began using the logbook as a business would, to keep track of fuel costs, entry fees, and other expenditures, as well as winnings and my own points. Keeping points records is very important: tracks will sometimes make mistakes in the points standings, and you can correct them if you have good records and can prove your real amount of points. When fighting for a championship, every round counts!

Chevelle In my second year in Heavy, I added a column for my average reaction time. I soon discovered that I was averaging .540's, much better than the previous two years, and decent in itself, but obviously with room for improvement. I strove to get better lights, but my logbook would not lie: I wasn't gaining on the problem. Without such records, it is unlikely that I would have even identified my r/t's as a problem. I finally broke down and bought a practice tree, and after a time, I could see the rewards in writing in my logbook records. Similarly, I have been able to deduce how effective my dial-in strategies have been.

There is a lot more information that you can keep that will help you make more effective use of your logbook. I make a note after every elimination round of who I ran, what their r/t was, and what they ran on their dial. This allows me to recall the race more clearly, and I can determine what I did right in the race, and what I could have done differently. I also keep a keen eye on my weather station, and note the weather conditions after every run. If you are still tuning or otherwise changing your combination, you may wish to record jet sizes, tire pressure, and other technical settings that may have had an effect on your performance. Writing a couple comments about the run can be helpful for future reference as well.

Now that you have an idea what might go in a logbook, how can you use it as a tool? I have one really great use for them. In bracket racing, it is not all that rare that you might lift or hit the brakes in eliminations. What might the car have run if you hadn't hit the brakes? Enter linear interpolation, or trend analysis. (ow! sounds scary...) That's just a fancy term for what is really just projecting your ET given what you know from intermediate times on the run, and previous runs. With logbook in hand, I have been able to use this method to figure out what my ET would have been, usually within .003 seconds!

What I do is examine my 660' (1/8th mile), 660' mph, and 1000' times. A quick way to start on this is to scan through your logbook for a run (preferably on the same day, or on a similar weather day) that has a 1000' time within say, .01 seconds of the run you are trying to figure out. If you compare the 660' times and 1000' times on these runs, you will see a trend that will get you probably within .01 or so of what you may have run. When you take into account the difference in 660' mph, you can get an even better idea of the trend. If the two runs you are using are very close, you can even go back to the 60' and 330' times to get the best idea, or alternatively, find some more runs with which to do comparisons. Armed with this knowledge, it's just like having another time shot!


Copyright 1996-1999 Michael G. Beard

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