Drag Racing Newby

Discussion in 'Mustang Chit Chat' started by 06GT-Red, Sep 2, 2019.

  1. 06GT-Red

    06GT-Red Junior Member

    Hello, folks. I read threads here but do not post too often, mainly because I feel I have little to contribute. Anyway, it looks like I will be drag racing for the first time, at age 67, at the end of this month. Appearing in occasional car shows and ferrying me around on relaxed Mustang adventures through the northeast Indiana countryside is the normal duty for my 06 GT with automatic transmission and 118,000 miles. Transmission fluid and filter were changed at 115,000 miles. Street tires are five years old but still have decent tread depth. The car has modest modifications, which appear in my signature block. If anyone has any helpful suggestions, I would be grateful to read them.
  2. RED09GT

    RED09GT Senior Member S197 Team Member

    My best advice is to watch a few cars go first. Watch the procedure of the burn-out box, watch where the cars are relative to the tree as to where the cars are when the pre-stage and stage bulbs light up.
    Watch where the track personnel are stationed-especially the starter and the guys in the burn out box, they are the ones running the show.
    If you do chose to do a burn out, make sure that you don't start it until you are given the signal. The next thing to know is that you have to wait for the starter to signal to you to proceed to the starting line. Do not drive from your burn-out directly to the lights.
    Also, make sure you know which lane has the right of way when exiting the track.
    These are the main things to know to keep the track personnel happy.

    After that, ignore the ET's you read about on the internet and you've seen on the internet and just have fun learning about how to get your car down the track. I'll let others who have raced one of these cars with an automatic to tell you how to get it down the track quicker.
    jewc75 and 06GT-Red like this.
  3. stkjock

    stkjock ---- Madmin ---- Staff Member Administrator Super Moderator S197 Team Member

    Best advice, if your planing to go often, get drag radial rear tires, 5 yr old street radials are going to spin a lot.
    jewc75 and 06GT-Red like this.
  4. 06GT-Red

    06GT-Red Junior Member

    Thank you, folks, for your replies. Helpful information for sure!
  5. LikeabossTM

    LikeabossTM forum member

    If you've got some mods (sorry, can't see signature blocks on Tapatalk), then you probably are already comfortable with 'quick launches', however...

    ...if running with street tires you don't need to bother with a full burnout. Just spin the tires a few revolutions to clean them off. Anything more is just burning rubber with negligible effect on enhancing grip on most street tires. I always fared better going AROUND the water box, staying dry.

    In the same vein, don't mash the accelerator. Hold with brake at a reasonable RPM (high enough to be into the meat of the torque curve, low enough to allow the brake to hold you in place). I usually found 3k to be about right on a street car where you don't want to break things. Then roll on throttle, with urgency, at launch. You're looking for the balance between max power and traction in those first 60'. Again, street tires are your limiting factor so you have to adjust your strategy accordingly.

    Race yourself, aim for consistent spin free launches, fiddle with strategy to find the limits, and have fun.
    06GT-Red and jewc75 like this.
  6. Sactown

    Sactown Sactown

    with you street tires, drive around the water box, don't bother doing much of a burnout, just a short one to clean the crap off the the tires. IMO I would launch at around 1000rpm, maybe slightly more but not much, you don't want to spin the tire, and have the car in drive, don't shift it yourself.
    The biggest thing is don't pressure yourself to make perfect passes, just have fun.
    06GT-Red, jewc75 and MrAwesome987 like this.
  7. jewc75

    jewc75 forum member

    All good replies. Just have fun and be safe.
  8. fdjizm

    fdjizm Drag Queen

    I remember my first time at the drag strip in 2008.

    A guy from the car show told me if I launch in second I won't have traction problems.

    ...that's when I stopped taking advice from car show guys.
  9. stkjock

    stkjock ---- Madmin ---- Staff Member Administrator Super Moderator S197 Team Member

    fdjizm and Hawgman like this.
  10. 06GT-Red

    06GT-Red Junior Member


    Thank you for the additional information, and the humorous posts too! One other question: Will I need to wear a helmet, and if so where do I find one?
  11. 01yellerCobra

    01yellerCobra forum member

    That will depend on your track. There's a quarter mile track about 90 miles from my house that requires a helmet for 13.99 and faster. I think that's NHRA rules. I felt pretty dumb running a bunch of 14.0's with a helmet on. But then the local 1/8th mile track requires a helmet no matter how fast or slow you are.

    If you don't have a speed shop nearby you can order one. But I'm a fan of trying stuff like that on. I managed to find a helmet at a local motorcycle shop. It might be worth checking out.
    06GT-Red likes this.
  12. Stevejr

    Stevejr Junior Member

    If you do buy a helmet buy a racing helmet. Motorcycle helmets are for motorcycles. There is a difference.
    06GT-Red likes this.
  13. RocketcarX

    RocketcarX 95% of my weight is fuel

    new tires, leave from idle, no foot braking.
    06GT-Red likes this.
  14. DiMora

    DiMora More Is Better

    I'll add:

    As you are going down the track, you *may* lose traction. Be alert for the feeling of the rear end drifting sideways. Street tires on a race track can be a tricky ride...as there are lots of burnt rubber deposits on the track. With street tires, the rubber on the track will be slippery instead of a good thing like you would have if you were running sticky drag tires (where the sticky hot rubber on your drag tires actually "sticks" to the rubber on the prepped track and you have great traction) . If this happens, be prepared to get off the accelerator, correct back to lane-center, and then get back on the gas and finish your pass safely.

    Staying in the gas too long if you are slipping sideways on a car with stock suspension can cause you to lose control, spin-out, go into the other lane, hit the wall, etc...Mustangs have the internet nickname of "crowd killer" for a very good reason when the suspension, road condition and driver experience level is not "optimized".

    So...on your first several passes, simply have fun and concentrate on getting down the track safely, learning how the sequence of events transpires, and get used to what the tires feel like on the track. Don't go all-out trying to be very fast initially...a nice slow launch and a safe pass or three will build your confidence.

    Safety lecture done...now a few more tips:

    • Wear long pants and a long-sleeve shirt or motorcycle leather jacket if you have one (in case of crash/fire)
    • Do NOT run your air conditioner as you pull onto the track...the water dripping (condensate) will make the track wet and you will get yelled at...shut it off before you pull around the water box
    • You will have to do your passes with your windows up (safety requirement)
    • Go (launch) on the last yellow light before the tree turns green...the light is faster than your reaction time, so if you leave on last yellow you will not "red light" and will leave as quickly as you possibly can
    • Again, know who has the right-of-way (vs the other lane)...don't cut off a car coming up too fast behind you if you won/beat them and are ahead and must cross their lane to exit...stay in your lane until the exit point and make sure you are not cutting them off if they are coming at you and still slowing...you never know if they have had a brake failure or other mechanical issue and are unable to stop until you determine their speed is under control
    Tell people you are new and they will give you tips, coach you, watch you...track officials are very nice too...don't be afraid to tell them it is your first pass and they will talk you through it.
    RED09GT and 06GT-Red like this.
  15. 06GT-Red

    06GT-Red Junior Member

    You folks are great! Thank you again for all of the helpful information!
  16. Mustang50lx

    Mustang50lx Junior Member

    Also when you pull up turn your pre-staged yellow light on and wait for other guy to pre-stage or vice versa if he goes in first. The slowly pull in or bump in to turn on the staged light. When you are there ask for help from other racers. I have been racing at the track I go to since the 80's. Most everyone is willing help out a newcomer.
  17. 06GT-Red

    06GT-Red Junior Member

    Thank you for the tips, Mustang50lx!

    I will be racing a week from Saturday. I prepped the car by changing oil, inspecting and rotating tires, and inspecting the brakes. And then I drove the car over the sorts of roads that should reveal any issues: none appeared. I believe the car is ready for my first drag racing experience. My brother-in-law has a helmet that he will loan me. Thank you again, posters, for your help. I will post a brief summary of my experience.
  18. stkjock

    stkjock ---- Madmin ---- Staff Member Administrator Super Moderator S197 Team Member

    make sure the helmet is of current approved spec. it's possible, not very likely, that the tech guy will check and it it's an old helmet he will not let you use it.

    Drivers of NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and E.T. cars (13.99 or quicker) must use a helmet meeting Snell K2015, SA2010, SAH2010, K2010, M2010, SA2015, M2015, or SFI 31.1/2010, 31.1/2015, 41.1/2010, or 41.1/2015 Specs. Drivers in supercharged, front-engine, open-bodied cars and Funny Cars must wear a helmet meeting Snell SA2010, SA2015, SAH2010, or SFI 31.1/2010, 31.1/2015 Specs. See Class Requirements.

    Take a look at the NHRA General Regulations Index