Red… Yellow… Yellow… Yellow… GREEN!
Reaction time is crucial in drag racing. The trick to getting a quick reaction time is to go on the last yellow, instead of waiting for the green, but be careful, running before the green will result in a disqualification of that run – also known as a red lighting. Secondly, take note of where your RPM’s are when you launch. Don’t rev your engine like how you see in the movies; keep it at a steady RPM. Do not dump the clutch or mash on the throttle as soon as you see the third yellow. Instead, you want to roll off the clutch while simultaneously rolling onto the throttle, paying attention to tire traction and acceleration. Another trick to reduce reaction time is to let the clutch up to right before it starts to grab, this is known as pre-loading the clutch. This trick can really reduce your reaction time so be careful not to red light. Launching your car at an RPM rate that is too high will cause your tires to spin excessively when launching. But launching your car at an RPM rate which is too low will cause your car to bog, losing precious seconds as your engine struggles to propel your car forward. Experimenting with different launching techniques and comparing them with your previous 60-foot times will ultimately reveal what works best.
When running down the track, shift quickly and smoothly right before redline on a near stock car. Modified cars usually like to be shifted 500-600 rpm past their power peak. Speed shifting where you leave your foot on the floor is hard on your transmission and can be quite damaging if you miss shift so generally we recommend not doing it. It can be good for up to 0.02 of a second though. For most for fun drag racing, it is simply just not worth the risk to do it.
Most importantly, keep your eyes on the road in front of you! As tempting as it may be, do not look at your competitor, and do not look at the crowd. The natural tendency of drivers is to steer in the direction that they are looking. This could be dangerous, considering there are concrete barricades on either side of the track, and your competitor only a few feet away. Keep your eyes in the direction that you wish to go and your hands in the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock position, removing your hands from the position only when you are shifting. As soon as you pass the finish line, slow down! Etiquette is to let the winning car off the track first. Return slowly in a single file line. When you reach the end of the track, there will probably be worker there waiting to hand you your time slip. Congratulations! You have now learned how to drag race!