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Drag Racing Has Its Own Rewards

Sydney Dragway plays host to a variety of high speed events but September 10th and 11th were a little different. The Australian Nostalgia Fuel Association took to the quarter mile track to both showcase some truly classic drag racing cars and their drivers.

The event was backed by “Cruzin” Magazine, a publication dedicated to the hot rod and modified street car scene, and was also a celebration of the drivers and pioneers of the sport. The event itself is part of a series being co-hosted between Sydney and Queensland’s fabled Willowbank Raceway.

Based around ten different categories, including Vintage Gas and Nostalgia Superstock, the series is a first time set-up and was held as two one day events in Queensland. The Sydney Dragway event was a two day wrap-up and was held over a weekend where the weather wasn’t the best.

The event also saw, on the Saturday night, the hosting and presentation of awards to drivers as part of a get together for the Australian Nostalgia Fuel Association, (ANFA). Industry legends such as Bob Shepherd and Graham Withers were given Lifetime Achievement Awards to honour their decades of service to the sport. The presentation, known as Pioneers Night, was attended by close to eight hundred people and the camaraderie was on full display for all members that attended.224105-drag-racing

Drag racing seems to attract a distinct audience, one that is either fully attuned to the nuances of the sport or those that are there simply to enjoy the spectacle. There’s also a curious flow to a drag racing event, compared to how a circuit racing event would run. There’s distinct differences yet, as motorsport tends to do, there’s crossover as well.

A circuit event runs to a certain amount of time or laps, before a race result is declared. It’s generally a situation of who was fastest finishes first. There’s a saying in motorsport: to finish first, first you must finish. Drag racing is not unlike that but it’s in the racing results side that the disparity becomes clear.
Here’s how it works for the layman. In essence, it appears drag racing is about the fastest car to leave the start line (or staging area) and cross the finish line a quarter of a mile (400 metres) down. During the qualifying sessions, that’s effectively how it works. To make sure all races are equal, the staging area has to lights that become visible, one after the other, as an entrant moves their vehicle forward slightly. Ahead of them will be what’s been known for decades as the Christmas Tree, a set of lights mounted vertically that tell the driver when they can start the race. Reaction time, the time it takes the car to move from seeing the green light, can play a huge part as well.The_Edge_260013_Drag_Racing_Christmas_Tree.jpg_250x250

This is where terms such as dial in and elapsed time become important. Elapsed time is the gap between the car starting and then crossing the finish line, hopefully without the driver leaving before the green light. If they do it’s an instant red light and hands the win to the competitor.
Dial in is a time a driver nominates, as in how fast in seconds they believe they will go from A to B. This also becomes a form of handicap, in that a car can nominate a time of 12.3 seconds and a competitor 9.3. This gives the first car a head start of three seconds, however if the 9.3 second competitor goes quicker than the nominated time, he then loses.

Confused? That’s understandable, but that’s drag racing. Head to www.sydneydragway.com.au for details.

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