Category Archives: Drag Racing

Drag Racing 101

First off, I’ll begin by saying that no one was born a drag racer. You’re not born one, you become one through hard work and never calling it quits. I’ve seen people try it a few times, seems fun to them at first, but then when you really gotta give it all you’ve got, and focus and become one with your ride, they give up, aren’t up for the challenge. That’s not an attitude that serves anyone anything.

Okay, now here are some tips on how to start and not give up. First, watch and learn. Don’t rush in being it all giddy and excited, and not knowing how to do anything. You may be confident and it may look easy when you’re a spectator, but calm yourself down and watch closely at first. You’ll see that there’s a lot going on there. Learn the process by watching and observing before you get behind the wheel – you’ll feel more confident, and once you get in that seat, everything will feel easier.

Check your engine before you start, don’t just stare impatiently at your fine & fancy watch waiting for your turn. Do the necessary preps, you know that this is important. Most people do their first race with their streetcar, and no matter how safe it is, you’ll still need to pass through inspection – make sure your battery is secure and that there are no leaks.

Next, you need comfortable clothing. This may sound irrelevant, but it really isn’t. Just try riding in tight pants once and you’ll know what I’m talking about. You can’t wear any tight, uncomfortable clothing, sandals, cropped tops, or whatnot, no matter how good or cool it looks. Comfort is a priority. You need something like long loose pants, sneakers and a T-shirt.

You’ll also need to fill up your tank, obviously, but also prepare if you’re gonna change lanes by bringing tools and spares, just in case. You may use these or may not, but either way, you should bring some. Don’t go overboard with them either, like some guys do, because you’ll see them flying out of your car in a flash.

And lastly, just be a good sport and try to understand that everyone’s there with the same purpose, to blow off some steam, so what you like and enjoy it. Try and make some new friends, even, why not?

From the Black to the Blue

The speed of a dragster is addictive. Some are born to it and it makes them shine. That sudden rush of adrenalin is like no other experience—except maybe speeding on the water. Perhaps you can’t top auto racing speeds, but you can get darn close. The daredevil in you will find its match in watersports like skiing, kneeboarding, and speed boat racing for sure.

The attraction of speed is irresistible. It is about dynamics of motion, surpassing the norm, and testing one’s limits. As a dimension of sports in its various incarnations, it is about beating the odds and burning your rival. Setting records is part of the fun as is just being there at a given time and place where fans gather to witness human moxie and mettle. It is not just for men, mind you. On land or sea women thrive.

So I am all for going from the black to the blue so to speak. Racing against yourself is one kind of challenge if no overt competition exists. I suggest trying out a variety of watersports to find the perfect one that hits the nail right on the head. Most skim the water in some fashion and allow you some degree of skill and control. They all enjoy the atmosphere of sun, sand, and sensuality.

Family fun is part of the package if you tone it down some. Never encourage a kid to exceed his or her athletic abilities, but do urge them to push beyond initial fear. You can tell if your offspring are too daring for their own good. Water safety and sport rules must be maintained. Once that is engrained, the sky is almost the limit—within reason.

Each water sport has its supporters and detractors depending upon the nature and expense of the gear required. Swimming and diving are at the top of the simplicity scale. Pools can be a claustrophobic environment for those used to the beach, but there is water polo and water aerobics to add to the mix.

Out on the waves (and certainly in the river), there is waterskiing, windsurfing, kayaking, jet skiing, bodyboarding, riding inflatable tubes, rowing, rafting, surfing, sailing and the list goes on….It seems we can’t get enough perpetual motion. For those landlubbers at heart, you can sit in a yacht and watch the world go by.

Under the water is a visual realm without parallel for scuba, deep sea, and free divers. These sports are not associated with speed but should be mentioned as parallel activities to be enjoyed recreationally. If speed is your passion, however, stick with the above. Each is exciting and compelling in its own way. You can conquer the elements in a canoe, kayak, or on a waterboard once you know the ropes. If you are truly into racing others, go where the venues are and learn how to participate for fun.

In sum, the mighty blue may indeed have it over black. Measure each offering in terms of the thrill of the adventure and the rewards gleaned. They all have merits in terms of physical and mental exertion. You may still come back to drag racing, but you will have tried something new and daring in the process.

Drag Racing Under Pressure

You begin to sweat a few minor beads, and then the fluids start to accumulate. You are now sweating bullets as they say. Your face is dewy and moist, as are your armpits. Your blood pressure is skyrocketing, your nerves on alert. Your breathing is shallow and comes in short waves. Your body tenses as the autonomic system goes into high gear to keep you alive. It is defcon one. That is US army lingo for top level emergency readiness. Are we at war? No. You are about to enter a drag race.

While it isn’t always this hair-raising, drag racing can be at times when the stakes are high. You may have a particular opponent or rival you absolutely must beat. Or it is a semi-final or final competition. Or friends and family are watching and expect to see evidence of your regular boasting. Whatever the case, a little pressure is part of the story of the sport whether it is a home town last minute event or a professional speedway heat.

Drag racing exists on multiple levels in the UK and elsewhere, so it is hard to generalise. But trust me, pressure has its role. The type of driver that goes out for this enterprise loves the feeling described above. They love to feel that blood pumping vigorously—it’s part of the joy of being alive. And you can do it whenever you race!

If it gets out of control, and I have seen this happen, you jeopardize everyone involved. It is almost like a household pressure washer has sprayed you with fear. Some people have to give it up or get a grip. I don’t like to see a bloke walk away. It can be an ephemeral thing that never rears its ugly head again, or recurrent. If the latter is your case, there are coaches and strategies to help. Undue stress and anxiety should not be part of any sport at any time in a negative way where it interferes with your ability to perform and enjoy your experience.

I don’t want to talk you into such high level pressure, just to explain that it can happen now and then. When it is minimal, you can just pass it off as light nerves–or use it to gain and edge. Some people need a mild amount to excel. That’s normal. But when it comes to real destructive pressure that has turned into dread and fear, it is something that needs to be pruned from your head asap. Thus, you must recognise the difference of degrees and handle it accordingly as best you can.

Drag racing is one of the most exciting activities I can think of undertaking and I wouldn’t ever want to deter a new participant or spectator. Pressure is just something we don’t often discuss, and it could be of help for some. Recognizing it and talking to others will reveal its prevalence. You will soon see how others cope. And they do.

Fire in the Belly

It’s all about speed and guts. The timid need not apply! Drag racing is not for the faint at heart. You have to have the right mindset and love the competition enough to go beyond your limits to win. You have to have that fire in the belly, as they say. And we are not talking about a little camping stove, no little pellet stove like this one at finestfires.com; we are referring here to a roaring fireplace with flames reaching the heights—beyond the norm, but with safety.

Drag racing is an exciting sport, in the UK and around the world. It happens in a flash and your heart skips a beat every time. People around the world tune in to see the cars line up and blast down a short track—a measured distance, maybe a quarter mile. Under 11 seconds is a mighty score. A heavily modified Toyota Supra was well under this at a recent race. I want to see that turbocharger!

Devotees don’t miss an opportunity to indulge their speed demon alter egos, even if they can’t participate themselves. Where does this fire come from that forms in the belly and never departs? It’s like you have a personal fireplace down there that gets stoked just before every race. You can go from a street racing fanatic to the real motorsport with all its rules and regulations and various classes. You may start as a kid collecting cool dragsters. Maybe you watched with your dad or uncle. Whatever happened, you got hooked fast, like me.

Here it is play by play. Each car has a turn at performing a burnout to heat up the tires before they line up. An electronic light system is put into action to indicate the start. This can get complicated, so trust me, it happens. Once underway, the race is like a blitz of action. Each lane is timed separately. An entrant has to surpass a pre-determined time. There is elapsed time and reaction time, and speed to measure and consider.

As you progress in your interest, you can acquire knowledge about speed traps, holeshot advantages, redlighting, and what constitutes disqualification. I am not trying to write a primer here on the sport. Rather, I hope to convey some of the intensity and excitement I experience as a fan. There is a standard racing format with some minor differences country to country, some pertaining to elimination based on an index.

If you want, you can get deep into body style, engine types, weight, and modifications. You can become as much of an expert as you like. Or you can just sit on the sofa with a cold beer with your feet up on the ottoman. You can fantasize as much as you desire, putting yourself at the wheel, and feeling the adrenaline rush. You will have down the top categories, or pro classes, including top fuel dragster, to fuel funny car, pro modified, pro stock, and pro stock bike. There are a few others like super gas/super rod and super street/hot rod. It doesn’t get any more fun than this!

Young and Old – Nan Loves Drag Racing

Some sports and pastimes are special. Drag racing gets into your blood after just one exposure. At least, it did for me—and most of my diehard friends. We can watch and talk about it for hours on end. It’s great for male bonding, whether you are into the cars and their modifications, the drivers, or the stats in different countries. UK fans have their favorite races to be sure. We are a smug group. I suppose there are cultural differences, too. As a whole, however, I think it is like a universal subculture as an offshoot of other types of auto racing, and it seems to largely be a male-dominated enterprise. But you would be surprised how many women sit and watch with the men, chugging the same beer, and eating the same snacks. It is practically a family event in some circles. And now there are some female drivers that have changed the nature of the sport.

As with poker and other card games, men do not always relish the entrance of women into their private chambers. A man cave is what the words denote—women keep out!. As for me, I have made concessions and anyone and everyone is invited over to watch a professional race or go with me at the drop of a hat. I do not discriminate. Even Nan, not a day under sixty, puts away the sewing machine and lays down the knitting needles to cheer her favorite racer on. Even the state-of-the-art one she got online from shelikestosew.com starts to collect dust. She can sit there rapt and at attention. She asks the right questions and often has the answers to mine.

And she knows the ins and outs of drag racing well. I am no longer flabbergasted, although my friends still are. That is the true definition of a fan. I don’t care if you are talking about soccer, boxing, tennis, football, or cricket. True aficionados take the time to learn the rules and regs and absorb the stats. They know the odds and the anomalies involved. They can evaluate before the announcer fills you in and spot a winner a mile away. They have the insight, always with an ear to the ground to learn more. I almost expect to come home one day primed for a big event to find Nan and a bunch of old ladies hogging the seating. You might mistake the gals for a sewing circle or quilting bee. I imagine they would ignore me and keep on with their feminine chatter or allow me to enter in if I behave.

I am not sure how Nan got started with drag racing but when she did, it took hold fast. I suppose I am to get the credit. In any case, now I have a permanent drag racing buddy if when my usual set doesn’t arrive. Family obligations and the regular burdens of life sometimes keep them away. But with Nan, I have a well-informed avid companion for my favorite sport–I never have to watch alone.

Racin’ With Rubber Underwear

Some sports are so daring and dangerous that you hold your breath just thinking about them. Some are so thrilling and intense that you practically shit in your pants with excitement. Someone should invent rubber underwear when the portable field bathroom isn’t in sight. Crude as it may sound, it expresses the nature of drag racing at its best. This goes for the spectator as much as for the pro.

Feeling scared in a good way is a very unique and special experience. You don’t have to wonder why horror movies are a perpetual genre with new ones emerging practically weekly. People want more, and more. The same goes for certain sports that get into your blood like an exhilarating transfusion. They jack up your nerves and awaken your senses. The illegal version of drag racing goes beyond the pale for many. Anything can happen which contributes to the appeal, but envisioning two daredevils on a hidden stretch of desert highway is not everyone’s game. You can quench your thirst for speed in other, more controlled ways in the UK and beyond.

There is a fine line between fear and dread. Movies are an illusion, and they never grip you in the same way as reality. Drag racing comes pretty close to the ultimate fright. There is a point of no return when it comes to how much the human mind can take. Drag racing as a legitimate sport stays within the realm of tolerable terror. Street racing participants can pay a high price for their freedom. Some observers wonder if there is a death wish involved; and you have to know the top racers to understand the higher priorities of courage and skill. It is not just about tempting fate, but about cool cars and cooler people engaged in a great pastime or even a career.

A love of cars goes with the territory and many guys are found in their garages while in front of a TV on race days. The organized sport goes back to the 50’s in some parts, and took a lot of amateurs to a new plane. It was first about American muscle cards like the Pontiac GTO and the Olds 442. Think of “Rebel without a Cause” and “American Graffiti” to take you back in time to the early days. As with most racing, the power and speed you witness today in a public context are simply awesome. There is an underbelly of drag racing to be sure, and a certain excitement in flouting the law, but there is also a more wholesome component that speaks more to the true fans of bravado and spunk. Furthermore, it has grown from a secret passion of men to a coed sport. The cars are different with many Japanese imports taking the lead.

So mock fear is okay in my book, and I can shed the rubber underwear. I’ll go find a good toilet like the ones on RateMyToilet.net ha ha.

There will be no accidents: bodily or automobile. Unpredictability is in; witnessing the consequences of excess is out. I will stick with the normal toilet facilities and keep my urge to urinate in check when in the stands.