Have questions about bracket racing? Please ask!


While up at my track the other week I noticed a lot of guys in the sport compact class (aka the guys with little racing experiece, especially bracket racing) were rather clueless when it came to how you make a pass or run in a bracket style race.

I would never claim to know everything, but I think I can answer just about any questions you may have regarding anything from "how do I stage the car?" to strategies when racing. I have spent a considerable amount of time at the drag strip and was our representative for the high school class at bracket finals in 2006 at Maple Grove, PA.

I would also be willing to compile a list of rules, methods, strategies, etc. Just let me know how I can help.



Bracket Racing 101:

The Pits - Every entry is a full access pit pass for spectators and drivers. Most tracks will be laid out differently from one another and at some smaller tracks it may be important to arrive early to get a decent parking spot. When racing on street tires the last thing you want is to park somewhere that dirt or mud is getting in your tread.

The Pre-staging Lanes (waiting line) - Unless it is a time trial with no formal call-ups, your class will be called prior to your run...do NOT just drive up. This is a hassle for the staging lane crew and other racers. A lot of tracks will number their staging lanes 1-4, 1-8, and so on. Pay attention to the number, if your class is called to lanes 3 and 4 and you want to run lane 1 on the actual track you want to be in lane 3. Lane switching is frowned upon as it slows things down and can inconvenience others.

From the pre-stage lane to Starting Line - This is the single most important part for a new racer. PAY ATTENTION! If you are running street tires or even drag radials with multiple deep treads you want to stay OUT of the water if at all possible, as you do not want water to be trapped in your tread (yes even after a burnout) because it will seep out onto the track when you have staged the car causing you to spin. Wait for the waterbox guy or starting line guys to wave you forward to the starting line. If you are running street tires a burnout is unnecessary as this will cause the tires to grease also resulting in spinning the tires. For FWD/RWD or high power AWD cars on drag radials, a dry burnout works best if possible to get a little heat in the tires. Pull forward towards the tree to stage the car.

Staging the Car - When you stage the car there are several factors to consider. This is where it is helpful to get to the track early and see where the starting line beams are placed. If you already know where they are you will not look like the rookie that pulls through both beams and is sitting right next to the tree. If you have a friend that can serve as your "crew member" they can help to position your front tire (all of the beams are low to the ground to detect the tires, not bumpers) just in front of the first beam. At this point you can pull forward just far enough to turn on the first set of pre-stage bulbs. Do not pull directly into both the pre-stage and stage beams as this is considered inconsiderate to your opponent. Once they turn on their top bulbs you can inch forward to just trip the second pair of bulbs. You are now staged and should rev the car to the desired launch RPM. You should only be focused on the lights (learn to hear the proper rpm) so that when the 3rd yellow light comes on you go. Do NOT leave on the green light or you will have a very slow reaction time. If you plan on being competitive in bracket racing 75% of the run is your reaction time. "Treeing" an opponent gives you an advantage right from the start and allows you room for error on the top end of the track. A competitive reaction time for most non-points classes is between .080-.120 a very good racer will consistently be between .010-.040

Dialing your Car - In bracket racing you must have a dial-in (a number you believe your car will run in the next race) once you get to the first round of eliminations. If you go slower than your dial you leave room for the other racer to beat you, if you go faster you 'break-out' and automatically lose, unless: A. the opponent red lit, B. the opponent crossed the center line, or C. The opponent broke out by more than you did. There are a lot of things to consider when dialing your car:
Weather plays a big factor. The sun will heat the track on a hot day and can cause the starting line to be more slick. Typically the barometer increasing will make your next run quicker.
What were your previous runs and how are they trending?
Was the car still hot for any of the runs? and will it be hot/cold for the next run?
What are other drivers doing? (do you hear a lot of guys picking up or slowing down?). Ultimately it is better to sandbag and put a slower time on the car if you are not sure as you can always make the car go slower.

Driving the Top End - Here is an area that many new drivers struggle with bracket racing. Because the start is staggered based on the 2 cars dial-in times, driving near the finish can be tricky. If you are the slower car, it is often best to keep it floored through the finish as it can be tough to judge a fast approaching car. However, if you are the faster car and are approaching your opponent, you will want to get your left foot over to your brake ready to scrub off some speed if you are going around them. Do not lift out of the gas if possible, just drag the brake. Lifting can cause you to slow too quickly and allow the slower car to go back around you before the finish.

A few side notes:
The pits, staging lanes, and return roads are not areas to race, act responsible as there are families and children all around.
Be a good sport, no one likes a hot head.
Have Fun! If you make a mistake, learn from it.

This is the very basics, I will likely add more content as I have time. If you have any questions regarding info posted or you would like more in depth info please ask.
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Updated a few of the sections today. If anyone wants additional details on anything please ask!
[MENTION=652]Grinder34[/MENTION] If this would be better to be in the drag racing topic please move it there. Thanks.


Just to add some cool to this thread here are a few pictures I took of my Dad's pro stick Pinto