On the sideline: Drag Racing

While drag racing is a sport that seems simple, in reality it is very complicated.

There are 12 classes of cars, four of which are professional. Each class has a designated weight, wheel size and fuel.

The race track is typically a quarter of a mile long with a speed trap at the end to calculate the top speed of the vehicle.

At the starting line there are two light beams: one to activate the first row of lights on the Christmas Tree and another to activate the second row. The second row indicates that the driver is ready to race.

The Christmas Tree is a light device located between the two racers. It has two columns of nine lights, which are activated by the drivers. There are four small amber lights at the top that turn on as the car approaches the starting line. Three large amber LED lights, a green light, and a red light follow vertically.

Each large amber light is lit for less than a second before the green light is activated. Once the green light is on, the driver may cross the starting line. If the driver jumps the light, the red light will light up and the driver loses the race.

There is a scoreboard on each side of the track because each driver is timed individually. Two times are recorded on the board: the time the driver has chosen to match, called a dial-in, and his actual race time, called elapsed time. The dial-in number is always present on the scoreboard.

The goal of the racer is to either match his dial-in perfectly or take longer than his dial-in. If the racer is under his dial-in by even a hundredth of second he will lose the race.

When both drivers finish with times above their dial-ins, the racer that finishes closer to his wins. However, if both drivers match their dial-ins, the winner is determined by who had the fastest reaction time after the green light activated.

Drag racing events last an entire day. Be sure to find a raceway and take some friends to high-five when your favorite racer wins!

If there’s a sport you would like to see in “On the Sideline,” or if you have questions, please email sweaver@eastern.edu.

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