In theory, drag racing sounds like the least involved of all motorsports. From a dead stop, you are trying to cover a specified distance in the shortest amount of time. There are no corners, no elevation changes, no layouts to remember. Pretty basic, right?
Not so much.
Anyone that's been drag racing should know that there's a lot more to it than mashing the gas and holding on. It's also one of the purest ways to put your machine to the test. That's why we've added it to the Speedhunters Things to Do Before You Die list.
A trip to the dragstrip is the best way to answer that age-old question "How does she run?". It's basic, and much of its appeal comes from that simplicity.
That being said, running your car to its full potential is much easier said than done. There's a reason you see people constantly running quarter mile times way slower than those that professionals got out of the same car.
Drag racing is very much about traction, and if you are unable to get off the line without excessive wheelspin your run will suffer. This why the "60 foot" time is often as important as the quarter mile ET itself.
The type of car you are driving also has a tremendous effect on the difficulty of the run. Something like an R35 GTR with its high tech transmission will be fairly easy to hustle down the track.
A two-wheel drive car with a manual transmission will be much more complicated. You have to figure out the best point for dropping the clutch, you have to feel out the traction, and time gear changes just right.
With a quarter mile run only lasting a matter of seconds from start to finish, the anticipation prior to staging can be very high. Lots of adrenaline flowing here!
After that run though, you anxiously await your time slip to find out just how fast you went.
Then the addiction kicks in and its back to the staging lanes to wait for another run.
That quest for improvement is something that makes drag racing great -or any motorsport for that matter. Because you don't have to "learn" the course, you can spend more time learning to drive the car as fast it will possibly go.
Drag racing is also very diverse, with organizations catering to every type of car – whether its a street legal weekend warrior or a full-on pro team.
The most accessible will be local street legal drags or test and tune events. You simply show up, get in line and make some runs.
Other series are much more structured and much more competitive – with race cars built to strict class and tire regulations.
Then you have nostalgic drags – for the people dedicated to drag racing the way it was.
Have a "slow" car? No worries, thanks to bracket racing you can still be competitive on the dragstrip. Here raw speed is dumped in favor of consistency and reaction time.
No matter what your style is, there should be a drag event that fits. Any of them will be great fun.
Anyone that says drag racing is boring or easy has probably hasn't watched too much of it. Seeing a car get squirrley halfway down the track has to be one of the most hair-raising sights in all of motorsports. No joke.
Whether you want to see how quick your car is, settle a grudge match with a buddy, or put your reaction time to the test, it's something that everyone should try at least once.
There's a good chance you might be hooked.
So go ahead and get out there. You might find something going on at your local drag strip this weekend!