Those who don't like the smell of burning rubber mixed with dense black smoke wouldn't understand the appeal of Weekend on the Edge. Nor would they likely understand how the roar of two turbodiesels, pumped to their limits, could draw such a big crowd to watch tires spin, then catch as trucks streak past the Christmas tree. That's their loss.
We were at the Rocky Mountain Raceway outside of Salt Lake City for the annual event in Ogden, Utah. Edge Products, a designer and manufacturer of diesel and gas fuel-management computer upgrades/chips, invites owners of diesel trucks to test their power and driving skills on the track. Fords, Chevys, GMCs, and Dodge Rams were competing head to head.
To make the competition fair to those who didn't take a second loan on their home to build a race truck, there were three classes in this year's event. The first is called the E.T. Bracket Class. During initial warmup and qualifying runs, drivers decide the fastest elapsed time they think they can duplicate. For example, if you know your truck can turn a 10.83, but given the conditions of the track and the day your best time was 11.42, you would be smart to enter a dial-in time of 11.00 seconds. That time is written on your windshield. During competition, you must try to duplicate that time, but not any faster. The closer you come to that 11-second time without going under it (faster), the better your chances to win. If you go faster than 11.00, like maybe a 10.9, that would be "breaking out," which results in an automatic loss.
So in bracket racing, it's not just money, power, and speed, but driver skill. To further complicate things, the timing lights are programmed to give each entry a handicap based on their chosen dial-in time. This means that a really fast truck might have a green light on the Christmas tree of a second or two later than the guy next to him at the line. As drivers speed down the track, we could sometimes see brake lights come on before the end of the quarter mile. Your reaction time, the lapse in hundreds of a second between the instant the Christmas tree light turns green and the moment you trip the timing light, can be critical, and you still need to cross the finish line first.
The second category was the Quick Diesel Class. This is open to all competitors who can do at least a 12-second quarter mile. The catch is, they can't go any faster. They start head to head. No handicap on the lights. First truck across the finish line without going faster than 12 seconds wins.
The third class this year was the Pro Street Diesel Class. This is all-out drag racing. Anything goes that makes you quicker, head to head, and the fastest truck wins.