The Startline - how to be a drag racer

How to begin life as a drag racer

Going to a Run What You Brung - held at Pod on numerous weekends throughout the year - will help test your car's performance. You can see what your reaction time is, and what your average finish time is. This will help you decide what class to enter for as they all have different maximum times. Once you've decided on this, you need to apply for a racing licence, which you can get from the Motor Sports Association. There are different degrees of license, the minimum being Non-Race National B which is £34. It's also a good idea to register your car with the Santa Pod racers club, and to look into getting car insurance which will cover competitive driving (specialist racing insurance for example).

Your car needs to be chassis teched, which will ensure it's safe to run on the quarter mile. This only really applies if you're intending to run times of quicker than 9.99. go along to one of the tech days at Pod, and they'll tech your car. If it passes you'll need to pay £45 for a chassis sticker which will deem it fit to race. It's sort of like a high-speed MOT!

If you registered with the Santa Pod racers club you will have received a racers pack detailing all the equipment and clothing you'll need to enter any race event, so once you have all that, you can begin applying for entry. Look on the Santa Pod website for their entry forms, and post them off along with the correct entry fee. Make sure you apply before the closing date! If you send an SAE they'll post your tickets to you, if not they'll be at the gate ready for you to collect on arrival.

Whet you get to the raceway, head to the pit area where you'll be met by a pit marshall who'll show you where to leave your car. First thing to do on race day is sign up as the racer and also sign in any crew members. This will give you all startline passes and get your scrutineering slip stamped. This needs to be shown to a scrutineer before the racing begins, who will check over your car for safety, brakes and steering etc. Once your car has passed this, you can return to the pits and wait for your class call-up.

The first time you race you need to do what's called an 'observed run' and have your new licence signed. An observed run is a burnout, if needed, and a 60ft launch, then a burnout with an 1/8 mile pass, and finally a burnout and full 1/4 mile pass. The full pass meeds to be within the ET (elapsed times) for your chosen class. Once you've done these runs to the Race Director's satisfaction he'll sign your licence and you can then compete.

I've been talking about cars throughout this, as that's what my main focus is, but it's very similar for bikes too. The only difference is who you get your licence from - for bikes you need to apply to the Auto Cycle Union instead of the MSA.

The jet car Fireforce 1 at Flame and Thunder 2006 - this doesn't usually happen!


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