Sunday the 24th of November 2019 we're heading to Sydney Dragway for a massive day out. A big part of the day is the opportunity to drag race your street car or bike. The Dragway regularly runs off-street drag racing and if you've been to one of these events before, you'll know how it works and how much fun it can be racing the clock (or your mates).
If you haven't been before here's some tips on how it all works, first timers are absolutely welcome and encouraged to come and have a go, the dragway crew will be aware you haven't been before so will help guide you through the process and once you've done it once, you'll know the deal for any time you want to go and run your car.
First things first here are some rules from the Dragway:
DRIVERS must wear an approved helmet (AS/NZS 1698 minimum as specified in the accompanying Table: Off-Street “Road-Going” Cars – Minimum Requirements) with long-sleeved upper body garment, long pants and enclosed shoes. (Clothing must be of fire resistant material as a minimum – no nylon).
RIDERS must wear an approved full-face helmet (AS/NZS 1698 minimum), purpose-made motorcycle riding jacket and gloves, long pants (strongly recommend leathers or Kevlar) and leather boots that fully cover the ankles (elastic-sided boots are not acceptable).
Car & Bike Requirements:
1. Road-Going Street Vehicle
A road-going street vehicle is defined as a car or motorcycle that is street-registered or is capable of being street-registered. Purpose-built race cars are not permitted.
2. Mechanical and Body
Automatics must have an operational neutral safety switch
No oil leaks
Radiator must have an overflow catch tank
Battery must be fully secured with a clamp or bracket
Bonnets must be fitted and secured
All vehicles must have at least one working taillight and headlight.
All of the above is pretty straightforward stuff, also make sure there's no loose items in your car that can fly around while you're racing.
Drivers must hold an Australian provisional or full civil licence (or be able to prove that they have held an Australian provisional or full civil licence)
4. While Racing:
Keep your aircon off, this prevents water dripping onto the track
No intercooler water sprays, for same reason as above
If your car goes faster than 8.5 seconds, you're at the wrong event, time to play with the drag cars!
Phew... that's a lot of stuff! If you've ticked all of the above off then this is what happens on the day!
Bring your pre-purchased ticket to the competitor entry to the Dragway off ferrers road. There may be some drag racing spots left, and you can buy a racing ticket at the gate.
The Dragway staff will give you a form to fill out, you'll need your license with you, fill out the form then take it to the scrutineering shed for sign on.
The check in staff will check your license, get your car details and issue you a wrist band and race number. This will identify your car to the timing crew so they know what time you did.
Jump in your car and drive around to the scrutineering sheds, here a staff member will check your paperwork, make sure you've got your helmet with you. If your car has no leaks, a battery tied down and the safety items above are satisfied they'll write a race number on your car and you'll be ready to race! At this point if you want to race your mate we'd suggest asking to be assigned the same lane.
Drive around and line up in the numbered staging lanes. The lanes will be let through in order, if you want to race your mate enter the staging lanes together and tell the staff you're looking to run them. They'll always try to get you together but it's not always possible depending how busy it is.
When your lane is called, make sure you're at your car, start it up and get your helmet on. When you get to the front the staff will check your wrist band and that your helmet is secured
The staff will direct you into a lane, you'll drive under the timing tower and the car in front of you might do an epic skid if you're lucky
Speaking of skids, they look cool and they warm up the tyres but they are not mandatory. The staff will spray some water down and if you like you can drive your rear (or front) wheels onto it and rip a massive burnout if you want, if you prefer you can drive around the water. At this point a staff member will be waving you through to stop or go.
The cars in front will have left by now up the track so you'll know how it works. Once they have finished the run the staff will wave you to pull up to the staging area. There are two LASER BEAMS that are represented by two lights on the top of the tree (they look like traffic lights). When you drive over the first beam (slowly) the first light will illuminate. When you're at the second beam, the second light will illuminate and that means you're staged and ready to go.
Once your competitor has also staged, the tree controller will hit a button and the lights will start, you'll see orange lights and then finally green, when it goes green HIT IT!
This is a good time to explain how to not do a supergramps impression and break stuff. You don't have to launch your car hard. In fact we'd suggest for your first run take off like you normally would at the lights to get a feel for how the car reacts. The dragway is a fair bit more sticky than a regular road so you may be surprised how quickly you can get away, or be surprised how hard your car bogs down!
One you're off and moving, accelerate as fast as you can towards the finish line. It's about where the big signs are but keep an eye on the road in front of you as it will be quite clear. Once you're across the line get off the power and onto the brakes, you have a fair bit of stopping room but by the time you get to the off-ramp on the right hand side at the end you want to be doing a max of 20-30km an hour.
You'll drive down the return road and through the burnout pad, turn left at the very end and stop at the ticket booth, at that point they'll hand you a time slip which will have your racing number and all the stats from your run. You can then head back into your numbered staging lane for another go or to the pits.
That's it! One run down, a lifetime of Drag Racing to go!
Remember the Dragway staff are very experienced and happy to help guide you through the process.
For more information you can check out Sydney Dragways Website: