No special skills
are needed. In the sport of drag racing, any licensed driver can participate. Kids as young as 8 years old
compete in Junior Drag League events and some as old as 99 race at local tracks nation wide in weekly programs. Driving
skills improve with each race. The full performance capabilities of a vehicle are tested while a driver
learns a vehicle's characteristics.
The dragstrip is a 60 feet wide strip of specially prepared asphalt.
Concrete safety guardwalls line both sides of the racing surface from the starting area to far beyond the finish
line. The starting area has a concrete surface 500 feet long to withstand the harsh wear from spinning tires.
A drag race
is started using a device called a "Christmas Tree" that stands 42 feet ahead of the start line.
As the vehicles approach the starting line the drivers are signaled to stage their vehicles and start the race by
watching the colored bulbs light up in sequence.
side of the "tree" has two small yellow bulbs at the top that signals a driver when the vehicle is on the
start line. The first bulb lights when the vehicle is almost on the line, "pre-staged", followed
by the next bulb lighting as the vehicle moves forward to "staged" position on the line.
The "tree" has three larger amber colored bulbs on each side followed
by a green bulb and then a red bulb. Once both vehicles are staged, the "tree" is activated and the first
amber colored bulbs on both sides of the tree light up. Then ½ second later the next amber bulb lights up
while the first amber bulb goes out. Another ½ second later the last amber bulb lights up. And one-half
second later the green bulb lights up signaling the drivers to start the race. If either vehicle leaves the start
line before the green bulb lights up, the red bulb will light up instead. This indicates a foul start for
that vehicle thereby giving the other driver an automatic win.
both vehicles may leave together on the green light, a driver's reaction time from when the green comes on will
become a factor in the race. If one vehicle remains on the starting line after the green comes on, the other
vehicle will gain an advantage making it possible for the slower vehicle to win the race.
More About Reaction Times
Keep in mind
that the tree counts down at .500 second (five tenths) intervals. The reaction time announced is the time
that the vehicle took to move off of the starting line compared to when the last amber bulb lit up.
Example: A reaction
time of .043 means the vehicle left the line exactly .043 seconds after the green came on And a reaction
time of -.080 means the vehicle left .080 seconds before the green bulb lit which activated the red light instead…a
foul start. A reaction time over .1 seconds is considered marginal and over .2 is slow.
each racer leaving the start line together, the finish line decides the winner. A series of infrared beams across
each lane measure incremental times during the race as well as top speed.
The total time of the race for each lane is recorded and announced as the elapsed time, or E.T., followed
by the top speed for each vehicle. The clock starts when the vehicle leaves the start line, not when the
green comes on. The reaction time is recorded separately to show how long a vehicle waited to leave while the E.T.
shows how long the race was. Adding these numbers together as a "package" will show the mathematical
winner every time.
The E.T. is displayed on finish line scoreboards in
seconds, tenths and hundredths. The top speed of the vehicle displayed in full numbers followed by tenths and hundredths.
Example: E.T. = 9.43 (seconds) at 88.31 (miles per hour).
After crossing the finish line, the driver lets off the accelerator
and slowly applies the brakes in the coast down area while staying in his own lane. Drivers should avoid skidding.
The vehicle in the right lane makes a right turn exit first followed by the left lane. This allows a safe
exit for both vehicles. No driver should ever turn around on the track since there may be another pair of vehicles
ready to start the next race.
After the vehicles exit the track, they return to their pit
area using the return road. Racers can stop along the return road at a station called "Time Slips" where
a track official will hand the driver a printed slip that shows the results for both vehicles. The speed
on the return road is limited to 10 m.p.h. Once your in the pits, please only drive 5 m.p.h.
The basis of competition is in the performance numbers. Drivers perform
as consistently as possible while tuning their machines for optimum performance.
Race Day at The Albuquerque Dragway
First, prepare for a day at the drag races. Bring only the essentials including:
Portable FM radio to hear announcements, a camera or video (for bragging rights), money for gate entry and lunch,
sunscreen, folding chairs to be comfortable in the pits, helmet (required if car is quicker than 13.99 seconds
& all motorcycles), long pants, shoes and sleeved shirt (for drivers). Also, if you don't want to leave
something back in your pit space while you race, leave it at home.
Fill up with gas, check out your vehicle for safety and show up at the dragstrip.
You will be asked at the gate if you want to race or watch. Racing participants pay $20 (car + driver)
and spectators pay $10, children 10 and under are always free. You will receive a "tech card" and need
to sign your release form. You'll be directed to the "technical inspection" lanes where your car
will be checked for the basic safety items. Fill out the card, open your hood and trunk for inspection.
any vehicle can race it must first pass the basic safety inspection. Things such as tire tread, brakes, safety
belts and steering are checked closely. No leaking fluids are allowed. Our SFI Certified tech inspection
personnel will assist racers with compliance issues.
Most late model factory original vehicles pass through tech inspection in only a few minutes while some
of the highly modified muscle cars require more scrutiny. Approved racing type slicks are allowed since
they are safer for the quicker accelerating vehicles. Some street legal racers choose to bring their vehicles in
on trailers complete with shade canopies, barbecues and tools for a full day of safe, legal and fun
racing at the track.
Once the tech inspector is done checking your vehicle, he will sign it off allowing you
to go to the next step at racer registration. All drivers must show a valid state driver license, you
will be given a wristband that shows track personnel that you have successfully completed the technical inspection/registration
process. Finally, a number is applied to the windows of your vehicle using a white "shoe polish"
like marker. That number is used to identify and group the competitors to race control personnel.
see track information on Paved Pit Parking. Using cones to mark a space that has been reserved is common, however you must be careful not to block
fire-lanes or park in someone else's pit space. While it's acceptable to work on vehicles in the pits there
is no draining of fluids allowed. Vehicles on jacks must use jackstands. Anytime the vehicle is running
a licensed driver must be in the driver seat with all safety equipment in place. The speed limit in the pits
is 5 m.p.h. really!
are welcome to walk or even park in the pits but as with all vehicles it's important that the fire-lanes remain
open. Kids are allowed in the pits if supervised by an adult. Only licensed drivers may operate autos,
golf cars, motorized scooters and motorbikes.
to the Lanes
All dragstrip announcements can be heard on the radio
at FM 102.1. Please listen carefully as there are several types of races running on any given day. Certain lanes can
be designated for a class so it is very important that you know what lanes you are allowed in.
When your group is called you may proceed to the rear of the
"staging lanes". Be sure your wristband is visible and have all loose items removed from the vehicle.
As you drive into the rear of the staging lanes a track official will ask to see your wristband and
direct you to a lane. This allows the track officials to verify that you have been through tech inspection and
to give drivers some instructions if needed.
When you get
to the front of the staging lanes another track official (the lanemaster) may do a quick once over to make
sure your wistband is on and that no loose items are in your car and to sure that you are you properly dressed to run the
area directly behind the starting line is called the "water box" and is designed for heating the tires
to maximize traction. A track official will signal you to stop when the drive tires are in the water
box. On his signal you may "powerbrake" the vehicle to spin the tires for up to 5 seconds. Properly done,
the tires will heat up from spinning and start smoking as you allow the vehicle to move forward out
of the water box.
A burn-out is not required and it's
not even necessary for most tires. Vehicles that use racing slicks benefit the most from a good smoky
burnout because the hot tires will provide maximum traction on the track. You should drive around the water box
if you decide to skip the burn-out.
Only one burn-out is
permitted and it cannot be done across the starting line.
at the Albuquerque Dragway may not do a water burn-out. Your tires drop water farther up the track making it very dangerous
for the faster cars with slicks.
Immediately after the burnout you may stage your vehicle on the starting line. Once both
vehicles are staged, the Christmas tree will be activated to signal the start of the race. A good race
will result if you're able to prevent the tires from spinning, drive straight and let the engine rev to
maximum r.p.m.'s before shifting.
for drivers in quicker cars to "feather" the accelerator to keep the tires from spinning. Excessive spinning
of the tires will result in lost traction, slower speeds and can even cause you to lose control of the
vehicle with disastrous results. If you feel you're spinning or losing control you should let off the accelerator
and try racing again later.
How did you do?
After your run, pick up your "time-slip" and return to your pit area. Relax
and compare your times with others, make any needed adjustments and wait for the next call to the lanes.
It is sometimes allowed for you to "hot lap" back to the staging lanes for more runs but be sure
that it's allowed before returning to the lanes. If you're group has not been called to the lanes you will
be turned back.
Your time slip will have
your vehicle number, the class you're in (if applicable) and the incremental times of your run as
well as other racers'. The first number is your dial-in printed as "R/T", followed by your 60'
time, 330' time and finally you're 660' time printed as "E.T.", and your our top speed. Another
number prints below as "MOV" which shows the mathematical margin-of-victory for your race.
Drivers pay $20,
spectators pay $10...kids 10 and under are free.
Sign release form before you leave gate. (All persons
entering the track must sign release).
Fill out "Tech card" and proceed to "Tech Inspection"
area. Have trunk and hood open for inspection and make sure that you have long pants, closed shoes and a sleeved shirt.
If you are under the age of 18 you will need to have a release form signed by your parents and notarized
. The Albuquerque Dragway will keep this on file for the racing season only. A release needs to be signed
Once you and your vehicle have passed tech you will recieve a number on your car and
a wristband that must be worn at all times when racing. If a wristband is taken off and given to another person to race
all parties involved will be removed from the track for the remainder of the the race day. If you are caught a second
time you will be removed from the track and not allowed back on track property for the remainder of the track season.
Remember that you can only drive 10 mph on the return road and 5 mph
in the pit area.
Be careful and have fun!