Click for Boonsboro, Maryland Forecast

What is a Drag Race?
In basic terms, a drag race is an acceleration contest from a standing start between two vehicles a measured distance at a specially designed drag race facility. The accepted standard for that distance is either a quarter-mile or an eight-mile.  These contests are started by means of an electronic device commonly called a "Christmas Tree." Upon leaving the starting line, each contestant activates a timer which is, in turn, stopped when the same vehicle reaches the finish line. The start-to-finish clocking is the vehicle's E.T. (elapsed time), which serves to measure performance and also serves to determine handicaps during competition.

What is E.T. Racing ( Bracket Racing ) and How does it work?
By far the most popular form of drag racing is a handicapped form of competition known as "E.T. Bracket Racing." In this form of racing, two vehicles of varying performance potentials can race on a potentially even basis. The anticipated elapsed times for each vehicle are compared, with the slower car receiving a head start equal to the difference of the two. With this system, virtually any two vehicles can be pared in a competitive drag race.
The accepted standard for that distance is either a quarter-mile (1,320 feet) or an eighth-mile (660 feet). A drag racing event is a series of two-vehicle, tournament-style elimination's. The losing driver in each race is eliminated, and the winning drivers progress until one driver remains.

The "Dial-In"
Car "A" has been timed at 17.78, 17.74 and 17.76 seconds for the quarter-mile, and the driver feels that a "dial-in" (or guessed time during a race) of 17.75 is appropriate. Meanwhile, the driver of car "B" has recorded elapsed times of 15.27, 15.22 and 15.26 on the same track and he has opted for a "dial-in" of 15.25. Accordingly, car "A" will get a 2.5 second headstart over car "B" when the "Christmas Tree" counts down to each car's starting green lights.

"Reaction Time"
In both vehicles cover the quarter-mile in exactly the predetermined elapsed time (each "dial-in"), the win will go to the driver who reacts quickest to the starting signal. That reaction to the starting signal is called "reaction time." A perfect "reaction time" is .50 because that is the interval between each illumination of lights on the "Christmas Tree". Both lanes are timed independently of one another, and the clock does not start until the vehicle actually moves. Because of this, a vehicle may sometimes appear to have a mathematical advantage in comparative elapsed times but actually loses the race. This fact makes starting line reflexes extremely important in drag racing! And you thought it was simple right? Well, actually there's more, read on.

"Break-Out" or "Run-Out"
Should a driver go quicker than his/her predetermined "dial-in" it is a "break-out" or "run-out" which is grounds for disqualification (because the handicap provided to the other car was then incorrect making it an unfair race for the competitor). In the case of both vehicles making their runs under their dial-ins, the win goes to the driver who breaks out the least.

"Red Light"
Another form of disqualification is a foul start (or "red light"). This happens when the driver reacts to the "Christmas Tree" too quickly and drives his car away from the starting line before the green "go" signal. When dual infractions occur, say a red-light and then a break-out, the re-light takes disqualification precedent over the break-out.

back to top

What Do I Do When I Get To The Track?

TICKET BOOTH Here you buy your tech card, receive your wristband or Pit Pass and sign the waiver release. Once you have purchased a tech card, there are no refunds or exchanges. All vehicles need to be race-ready upon entering the facility.
PIT AREA Go to the pit area, park and prepare your vehicle to race. Please allow for as many vehicles to park in area as possible. Please read all racer information you were given at gate. Racers may Pit on both sides but may not block any access roads or other racers.
FUEL and PARTS Fuel, air, water, parts and limited automotive supplies are available on the premises during normal race events.
TECH INSPECTION After filling out your tech card, proceed to Tech Inspection, located in the center of the PIT AREA. All drivers in all classes must be in possession of valid drivers license. No competition runs faster than 9.99 will be allowed without a valid NHRA license.   IHRA Certified and Licensed Drivers can apply with a Cross Over Form. A tech inspector will check your vehicle, give you a tech inspection sticker and put your number on your vehicle. (Additional shoe polish for dial-ins is available for sale at the goody booth.) Your ticket or techcard is your raincheck in case of bad weather. DO NOT LOSE. Each car and driver is teched as a team and neither one can be substituted without going to tech first for re-inspection. If either the car or the driver is substituted and it is not reported to Tech, both will be expelled from competition.
  • All drivers racing a car faster than 9.99 must have a valid NHRA competition license. Any driver not in possession of a valid NHRA license must dial 10.00 in competition. In the event of a double breakout, the breakout closest to the dial-in wins (including a run under the 10.00 dial-in).
  • All race vehicles must have an approved seat belt or current SFI dated harness, as outlined in the current NHRA Rule Book. Rule Books available at the Goody Booth
  • All race vehicles must pass all technical inspections, as outlined in the current NHRA Rule Book. A Tech inspection sticker will be placed on the race vehicle upon a satisfactory inspection.
  • Any race vehicle not meeting the specified technical rules will be rejected by the Track Tech Director.
  • Any technical deficiencies must be corrected prior to racing the vehicle.
  • Minor infractions that do not affect the safety of the vehicle or driver may be waived by the Tech Director only and signed only if he feels confident in doing so.
  • Any changes made to a race vehicle after inspection must be reported to the Track Tech Director. Failure to do so will result in being removed from competition and loss of points for that day.
  • Random Tech inspections will be made in the pits by the Track Tech Team. Any vehicle not meeting NHRA safety standards will be prevented from racing until the violations are corrected and approved by the Tech Director.
  • It is the driver's responsibility to have all of the current safety equipment, as outlined in the current NHRA Rule Book, including safety belts, safety harness, helmets, fire protective clothing, etc. Refer to Sportsman Section of the Safety Handbook for items not required for non-E.T. Handicap racing, i.e. fireproof pants and neck collar.
RELEASE and WAIVER of LIABILITY AGREEMENT FORM Must be, read, understood and signed at ticket booth by all persons in competition and crew members who will be entering the restricted areas. Those without wristbands, tech card  or pit passes will not be allowed to enter the restricted areas.
STAGING LANES Come to the lanes only when your class and assigned lane is called. When your lane or class is next, make sure you are ready to race, be sure your helmet is on, your seat belt fastened properly and all windows up. Follow the directions of the staging lanes personnel. When Reporting for Eliminations to the staging lanes, you may not change lanes once you enter a lane.
TOP of STAGING Wait here until instructed by official to proceed to the Water Box. This is where the computer operator reads your number and dial-in from the Timing Tower and enters it into the computer.  Dial Ins and Numbers on Left Side Of Car or Bike
WATER BOX Cars with slicks will be guided into the water by the Track Personnel operating this area. Stationary burn-outs should not be preformed forward of the burn-out area. Start burnout only when starting line/water box staff instructs you to do so.
PRE-STAGE Move forward until the top small yellow light on the "Christmas Tree" (pre-stage) is lit. During eliminations check dial-in on pre-dial in board (located at the back of the starter's Vee)  Once a vehicle is staged, you have accepted the scoreboard dial-in. You are not allowed to back out and re-stage. It is a racer courtesy to wait for your competition to also pre-stage before staging.Once Both Cars are pre-staged each cars should stage within 10 seconds
STAGING We use AUTO START in all classes and the timer till the tree self starts is set at 8 seconds once 3 Lights are lit.
Inch your vehicle forward until the second yellow light on the "Christmas Tree" (stage) is lit and prepare for the 3 amber lights (amber spotlights) to count down to the green light. (Leave on the 2nd or 3rd amber light depending on the reactions of you and your vehicle.) A Pro Start is when all three amber lights come on at one time and then go to the green light. On a full tree the countdown between lights is 5-tenths of a second while on a Pro Tree, the countdown is 4-tenths of a second. As a courtesy  stage when your competitor's pre-stage light is lit.
RACE TIME Go! If your vehicle has problems, pull to the outside of your lane and stop. If no problem exists, always exit the racing surface before stopping. If you "red light", which is automatic loss during eliminations, DO NOT slow down and take your frustrations out on the next racers waiting to race. If at anytime you experience vehicle problems, pull to the outer edge of the track when safe to do so. This allows the starter to know you have a problem and if you are leaking fluids it make clean-ups better for all participants.
FINISH LINE Drive past the finish line, LEAVE YOUR VEHICLE IN GEAR, and slow down using your brakes (chute if needed). Turn left at nearest exit. Get off track quickly. Be careful when turning left to allow for safe exiting and to avoid collision. Go to the end of the track only if it is absolutely necessary.
SHUT DOWN AREA Once past the finish Line ( Orange Panels ) slow your vehicle in preparation of exiting the track.  There are two left hand turn-offs after the finish line. Please exit track carefully watching for traffic in the other race lane. Racer Safety Equipment should be worn properly until the car exits the race track.
TIME SLIP BOOTH STOP here and get your time slip. Report any knowledge of problems on track. While on the return road to the timing ticket booth the maximum speed limit is 15 MPH
TIME SLIP Prints your reaction time, 60', 330', 660', 1,000', 1,320' elapsed time, 1/8 mile and 1/4 mile  m.p.h. Your time slip also gives you the same information about your competitor as well as records which racer was the winner during eliminations.
RETURN ROAD 15 MPH and follow posted road signs. Violators will be penalized which could mean disqualification.
PIT AREA Go back to the pit area and wait for the announcer (if you can not hear the P.A. system tune your FM radio to 89.9) for all calls to staging lanes.
ELIMINATIONS Come to assigned lanes when called by P.A. or FM Broadcast system. Only winners return when called. Ladder sheets are normally posted after third round at which time winners report directly back to your assigned lane.

High School Eliminator Program

In conjunction with the regular bracket racing series there is a popular program for high school students. Each participating track holds special High School Eliminator events, and a student is selected to represent the track at the Sears Craftsman E.T. Racing Series Finals in each division. Students battle it out at the Finals, with the winner earning a variety of prizes and a cash grant for their high school.

CROSSING EXTREMITIES:  While on a pass, a driver cannot allow his or her vehicle to cross either the center or outer lines.  If the driver crosses a line during qualifying his or her time will not count.  If he or she does this during eliminations the car is disqualified.  This is to keep drivers from staying on the power too long when car has assumed a dangerous posture on the track or "gotten out of shape."  The only time this rule is waived is for a single-run final or on a run where the other driver breaks out or the competing driver breaks, may then cross center line under control to exit track safely.

NOT STAGING: Once a car leaves the staging lanes,it is considered a competitor, if it can not cross the front of staging it will be eliminated and the next vehicle will become the competitor. it must be prepared to make a pass. Failure to stage upon the starter's instructions will be grounds for disqualification. Also, once a car is staged and leaves the line- forward or backward- for any reason, it is not allowed to restage. Such infractions during qualifying usually lead to the disqualification of the driver's time. When on a ladder and competitor can not answer the call a solo pass will be made.  Solo passes will only be allowed when competitor breaks after the driver passes the staging lane line. The Driver has the right not to stage under two circumstances, (1) if his dial-in is incorrect, at which time he should signal the starter to have the problem corrected, and (2) he sees an unsafe condition down track, at which time he should also notify track personnel immediately.

BURNOUTS: The Burnout, or tire-heating procedure that takes place on the starting line, is very much a part of drag racing; it's very exciting and colorful. However, when and where burnouts are performed is subject to regulation. Only Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and alcohol cars can cross the starting line under power before a run, and they can only do that once. Any burnout done in the pits will lead to disqualification. Any car doing a burnout must be able to back up by itself.


    All infractions are subject to ruling by the event director. In the rare case of side-by-side infractions, the first or worst rule is used. In other words, if one car red-lights and then the other crosses the centerline, the second infraction would be deemed worse and that car would be disqualified. The red-lighting car would be reinstated.    The Final Decision will be determined by the Track Operator 

Portions of this page where taken from "Basics of Drag Racing" distributed by NHRA