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Photo 2/15 | Exhaust Turn Up | It's a good idea to talk to a tech inspector before you race to see if there's any type of special equipment (such as this exhaust turn-up) that's needed for your diesel. The most common infractions that can get drivers sent home include excessive dirt (in wheelwells or a truck's bed), a cracked windshield, batteries that aren't secure, and engine oil/transmission fluid or water leaks.
Photo 3/15 | Staging Lanes | The staging lane area at a dragstrip is almost like a truck show, so it's tempting to walk around and look at other people's rides. Stay close to your vehicle at all times, however, in case your lane moves. Also, have your air conditioner turned off and be ready to rock, with your helmet on, seatbelt fastened, and window up when it's time to race.
Photo 4/15 | Staging And Spooling | When it's your turn to race, you'll pull up to the staging beams and start building boost. Best launches are usually achieved with between 5 psi and 15 psi, although it does vary from truck to truck. Trying to leave at 20 psi or more usually just results in spinning tires, wheelhop, breaking parts, or all three. Even on a stock truck, taking off in four-wheel drive (if you have it) will net about 0.5 seconds in e.t. reduction, although it should only be attempted on Chevrolet and GMC trucks if the tie rods and centerlink have been upgraded.
Photo 5/15 | Christmas Tree | A device known as a Christmas Tree starts a drag race, and it's good to get familiar with how it works before you ever go to the track. The top two lights that are pointed down toward the ground are known as the pre-stage and staging lights. These lights are activated by the vehicle's tire, and two bulbs lit on both sides means both drivers are ready to run. From there, the yellow lights facing the driver will either flash at half-second intervals (Sportsman Tree) or all at once (Pro Tree). Either way, the driver should leave on the last yellow. A green light will signal a good start, while a red light means the driver has jumped the start, which means a loss.
Photo 6/15 | Racing Slicks | If you have a two-wheel-drive truck or car, racing slicks will give you the best traction, especially as power rises. Even on 13- or 14-second rides, slicks can drop a full second off the vehicle's elapsed time.
Photo 7/15 | 2wd Burnout | If you are using slicks, doing a healthy burnout will definitely help improve traction, but don't overdo it. Performing a long burnout past the starting line shouldn't be done unless you OK it with a track official first.
Photo 8/15 | 4wd Launch | In four-wheel drive, excellent traction can be achieved no matter what type of tread the tires have. This '10 Ford F-250 built by Maryland Performance Diesel was able to run mid-6s in the eighth-mile on simple street tires.
Photo 9/15 | Launch At Dragstrip | The first 60 feet is often considered the most difficult part of a run. In four-wheel drive, expect the truck to pull a little to the right or left, which will require some steering input. Once the vehicle is down track a good way, just hang on until the end. If you hear any pops or bangs, it's best to pull off to the side of the dragstrip, in case the vehicle is spilling any fluid.
Photo 10/15 | 2wd Drag Truck | A dedicated diesel race truck can leave the light at 15 psi of boost or more, but it should have a dedicated transmission, driveline, and rearend that can handle the stress of high-boost launches.
Photo 11/15 | Ranger Swap | Building a lightweight vehicle is a good way to ward off parts breakage and go fast at the dragstrip. This 6.0L-powered '03 Ford Ranger built by Cutting Edge Diesel has broken into the 9.30s in the quarter-mile, thanks in part to its sub-5,000 pound race weight.
Photo 12/15 | Timeslip Deconstruction | After your run, you'll receive a timeslip that gives you elapsed time and speed results, but it also has a bunch of other useful information. "R/T" is your reaction time to the green light, your 60-foot time can be used as an indicator of traction, and both eighth-mile and quarter-mile times and speeds are given. On this timeslip, a reaction time of .040 (with .000 being "perfect," this is a very good reaction time), 60-foot time of 1.71 seconds, eighth-mile time of 7.84 seconds at 89 mph, and quarter-mile time of 12.29 at 110 mph all indicate everything was working well on this pass.