Going drag racing for the first time can be a hell of a lot of fun and we want to make sure you can avoid some of the pitfalls that newbies get into at the track.
We've been to a few street meets in our time, so here's our recommendations of what not to do to get the best ET possible!
1. They don't do their research.
First things first, make sure you have the right helmet. No drag strip in Australia is going to let you race without one. Here's ANDRA's current guide: http://andra.com.au/images/stories/ANDRA/PDF/policies/andra%20helmet%20selection%20guide%20v1.2.pdf. Also make sure you have looked after some basic safety items on your vehicle, like putting a radiator overflow in place. Any kind of leak is a no-no, and some tracks also require that you keep the interior in place.
2. They don't take weight out.
Want free horsepower? Take out weight! You might be surprised at just how much lighter you can make your car by removing the spare tyre, any tools, floor mats and loose items. You won't only gain performance, it's a lot safer to be in a car without anything to fly around or roll under a pedal at an inopportune time.
3. They take pressure out of street tyres.
We've all seen how awesome Top Fuel dragsters look when they launch with the tyre sidewall all wrinkled up. But your street car tyre does not act the same way. It has a hard sidewall designed not to wrinkle as it has to stand up to turning and braking as well. Reducing the pressures will not only provide no benefit for the launch, but will increase rolling resistance down track, slowing you down. If you are running street style tyres, just make sure you have normal street pressures.
4. They do too big of a burnout.
Burnouts are fun, we get it! They look awesome and are great for impressing family and friends who have come along to watch you. But a big burnout doesn't benefit a street tyre and will likely reduce its traction. You can either choose to avoid the burnout altogether by going around the water box or just do a small burnout to scrub the tyres clean of any dirt and small debris.
5. They rush staging.
The race is not to the Christmas tree. Take your time staging. Bring on the pre-stage light and stop. Then roll slowly into full stage.
6. They deep stage.
A consequence of mistake #5 is that new racers will often deep stage. This takes away anywhere up to a tenth of a second from your ET. To get the best ET, you want to stage as shallow as possible, that means creeping into full stage and stopping as soon as your stage light comes on.
7. They don't focus on the launch.
For most street cars, the difference between a good run and a terrible run will be made in the first few feet of the track. Experiment with different launch RPM and different ways of releasing the clutch to find what works for your vehicle. Again, take your time, your reaction time makes no difference to your elapsed time. Once the green light is on you can go when you are ready.
8. They add reaction time to elapsed time.
Actually, on that point, sometimes you will hear someone bragging in the pits about how their 13 second time slip is really a 12 second time slip because there is still four tenths of a second they can pick up in reaction time! Don't listen to these people. Once the light turns green you can sit on the start line for as long as you want, but the timers will not start until your vehicle moves out of the staging beams.
9. They don't ask questions.
A street meet isn't like The Fast and the Furious. It's not all secret tune ups and pink slips. Most people are happy to talk and share advice on what has made their vehicle faster. Find people with similar vehicles and ask them what has worked for them.
10. They don't have fun.
Remember, at a street meet the only person you need to beat is you. Your vehicle is unique and has its own quirks that you need to overcome. Enjoy the thrill of drag racing in a safe and legal environment and go for the best time you can!