Drag racing is one of the world’s most popular motorsports and is also regarded as the fastest of them all. It is essentially an acceleration contest on a track or dragstrip between two vehicles competing over a straight, measured distance to cross a set finish line from a dead stop. The standard distances for drag racing competitions are quarter mile (1,320 feet/402.3 meters), 100 feet (301.5m) and the eighth mile (660 feet/201m).
A drag racing event involves a series of two vehicle contests where the losing racer is eliminated and the winning racer advances until a single victor remains.
The race is started using an electronic device called a ‘Christmas tree’ (due to its multicolored starting lights). Each side of the tree features seven lights including two small amber lights at the top followed by three larger LED lights, a green bulb and a red bulb.
These lights are activated when both drivers are staged. Activation causes the three large amber lights to light up simultaneously followed by the green light (Pro Tree). For each run, two separate performances are measured: elapsed time and speed. When the vehicles leave the stage beam, they activate an elapsed time clock that is stopped once the vehicle reaches the finish line. This start-to-finish clocking serves as the vehicle’s elapsed time which is used to measure performance.
Meanwhile, speed is measured in a 66-foot so-called ‘speed trap’ that ends at the finish line. The first vehicle that crosses the finish line wins. A racer can be disqualified in a number of cases including leaving the starting line too soon, leaving the lane boundary, touching the guardwall and guardrail, striking a track fixture (such as photocells), failing to stage, failing a post-run inspection.