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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
General Race Tips

A. If you don’t know, ask….. most folks will be happy to point you in the right direction.

B. If you can, go on a race or test day and watch…. You’ll see how to stage, how to park in the pits, etc. Plus you can ask questions. When you are ready to try your luck, most tracks have “test & tune” nights, or “street nights” where it is open for anyone to make as many passes as they want. This is a great time for you to get out and try it without being under pressure. On regular bracket racing days, things are sometimes more hectic for a first time racer, so the test and tune or street racing days are a better deal.

Front Gate to Finish Line

1. At the front gate, pay your entry fee, and get your "tech card". If you don’t get a tech card at the gate, ask a track official once you get into the pits and park. TECH CARDS ARE VERY IMPORTANT…do not attempt to pull into the staging lanes without turning in a filled out and signed card.

2. Find a spot in the pits. The pits get full rather quickly on some days, so don't hog up a ton of spaces. Park uniformly with the way other folks park…this will insure you get it right for that particular track. Remove any loose items in your car, and fill out your tech card.

3. When the announcer calls for tech inspection to be open, listen, and go where you are told. If you don't understand, ask someone. If you get there after tech has started, the attendant at the entrance can tell you where to go. Some tracks will tech you in the staging lanes; some have a standard set aside tech area. If you are not completely sure, just ask someone. Again…do NOT be afraid to ask questions.

4. Usually, even a relatively highly modified late model car can pass tech easily. The tech inspector will write your cars number on your side and front windows where it will be visible to the tower. Some tracks just give you the number and let you write it on you car…if so, make sure it is LEGIBLE…this number HAS to be visible and READABLE from the tower. You should make your numbers about 6 inches high and CLEARLY visible. They need to be on the upper passenger side of the windshield, the drivers side window, and on the rear window also.

5. When the announcer calls for staging lanes to be open, pull into your proper lanes. Smaller tracks only have two. Bigger tracks have different classes split to different lanes. Again, ask, or refer to any documentation that you were given when you paid your entry fee.

6. Once you are in the lanes, stay with your car. When you are in the first or second row of an active staging lane (that is, one that they are pulling cars out of to race) BE READY TO RACE….you should not be fumbling around when called onto the track.

7. When it's time for the cars in your staging lane to pull forward and be positioned to race, a track official at the front of the lanes will direct you. It is very, very important to pay attention! Watch the track officials at all times for proper direction.

8. After you have been paired up out of the staging lanes and pull up next to the timing tower, be ready to go. The track official at the water box will check to make sure your windows are rolled up, seatbelts are on, and if it is after dark, your parking lights are on. Even on a well lit track, it is hard to see you at the other end if you have turned off or not. It would be a bad thing if you broke at the big end of the track, and they sent a pair of cars because they thought the track was clear! WHEN IT STARTS TO GET DARK…MAKE SURE YOUR TAILLIGHTS ARE ON! You can also use them on EVERY run, light or dark….just to get into the habit of having them on.

9. Now we’re getting to the good stuff. When the official points you into the burnout box, do not stop IN the water…drop into the water, then pull just a short way past it. This keeps you from slinging water up into your fender wells, etc and it later dripping back down onto the track, or you tires, killing any chance you have of getting traction. Do short burnouts to get the dirt off of your tires and heat them up a bit. Hold the brake with your left foot, and press the throttle with your right for a couple of seconds. While the tires are spinning, shift into 2nd gear, THEN let off the throttle gently. Burnouts take some practice…you’ll get it!

10. Turn OFF your AC. Water condensation drips onto the track. This is a bad thing.

11. When you are told to, Pull your car toward the staging beams. They are not located next to the Christmas tree! Watch other racers to find where they are located. Most tracks will have a stripe painted on the ground and guardrail where the beams are….THIS is where you want to place your front tire. When you get close, the top set of lights (pre-stage) will come on. Now, slowly creep forward until the next set come on (staged). Usually there is only 7” between the lights, so creep up on the second (stage) light. DO NOT go far enough forward to let the first light go out…you want both lights on. Turning out the pre stage light (top bulb) is called “deep staging”

12. Take your time...If you are reasonable, Nobody will rush you! The starter knows the regulars, and he will realize you are a new face. It is considered a courtesy to wait until your opponent has pre-staged before you stage. But if your opponent takes a long, time, feel free to start your staging process. COURTESY STAGING (or stagger staging) is the norm at most tracks. This means one person PRE STAGES….then the other PRE STAGES…then the first one STAGES …then the last driver STAGES.

13. There will be THREE yellow lights that “count down” to the green…(On a regular "sportsman" tree).DO NOT WAIT ON THE GREEN. Find the bottom yellow light and concentrate on it! Go when this last yellow comes on! If you wait till the green, you will get a terrible reaction time! Usually, .500 is a perfect reaction time. (Depending on the setting of the tree.....4/10ths or 5/'ll learn more about that as time goes on)

14. If you feel things get out of hand ( wheelspin or whatever), just back off for that run! There'll be others! Also, if it's your very first time down the track, you might not want to give it 100%. The best thing to do is make a pretty EASY run down the track for your first run… this will let you get used to the way everything feels, etc. NUMBER ONE RULE OF STAYING ALIVE………IF YOU GET LOOSE, LIFT AND STAY LIFTED. More wrecks occur when a car gets loose and then the driver gets back in to the throttle….once it’s loose, let it go…there will be other races…don’t get you or someone else hurt because of ego!

15. Stay in your lane at all costs. As you get close to the finish line keep it on the floor! The first set of beams you see set up are to start the MPH timers. Find out exactly where the end of the eighth or quarter mile is! Usually there will be a cone, or flags at the end of the "track"….DO NOT RACE PAST THE END OF THE ACTUAL RACING AREA. The area past the racing area is called the shutdown area. DO NOT slam on the brakes. Once you are past the last cone, blocks, or flags, gently raise off the throttle, and ease on the brakes.

16. If you are in the left lane, and the track turn off's are on the right, then the other car has the right of way. DO NOT turn on front of another car. Use EXTREME caution and LOTS of common sense in the shutdown area.

17. Proceed up the return road, and stop to get your ET slip. Now is not the time to read it, wait till your in your pit. REMEMBER …DO NOT speed through the pits…most pits have a 5 MPH speed limit, or an Idle only limit. There are a lot of people (kids) walking around, so go slow! PAY ATTENTION!

18. Keep your time slips. and keep notes of any changes you make on the car between runs. Also do your best to track weather conditions. I suggest making a notebook and keeping track of everything. It may seem trivial now, but believe me, you WILL get hooked on racing, and you WILL get hooked on changing things. This book will allow you to look back and see what works and what doesn't. It will be a great tuning aid as time goes on.

This is just a little something that i read a while back. I hope it helps if you were thinking about going to your local track.

1,109 Posts
Couldn't have said it better myself! The only thing i didn't see was MUST have a helmet and at my local track u have to be wearing jeans, NO cargos or shorts. Once again thanks OGB!!

29 Posts
yeah good points. my two cents

drive around the waterbox at all costs (unless youre on slicks)
lol i turn off my A/C because i dont want anything robbing power, i never thought of the condensation
make sure your car is clean, i see so much dirt/gravel/crap come off cars onto the track delaying the next runners (usually the D-tards :p)
i dont know about other tracks but as far as test and tune im sure the timer trips when you pass the line, not on the green light. so for first timers and novices, just relax and launch when you want to. i always wait after the green light as it takes the pressure off and i can just take a concentrated approach to all parts of the launch and doing them as best i can, unless my ego needs to beat the car next to me :D.

a couple other tips i didnt notice in the article:
have a 1/4 tank of fuel or less
just like a foot race, drive through the finish. im always surprised by the amount of people who clearly brake right at the line or before it. top fuel cars trap over 300mph, your street car has tons and tons of room/time to slow.
after you get staged, shift first-third-first multiple times, many would agree it helps line your synchros for easier, faster shifts.

and definitely practice practice practice, you most likely wont run what your car "should" run your first trip out. pay attention to things and your timeslips so you can measure improvement. for example, do you really need to grab fourth? or can you run third out.

1,362 Posts
Nice write up.
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