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Bracket racing 101

Bracket Racing style drag racing. INTENSE, side by side, pedal to the metal, white knuckle, tree ‘em on the line and dump ‘em at the end drag racing!!!!! So simple yet so miss understood. Bracket racing is a form of drag racing that allows two cars of different performance ability to race side by side in an equal contest. It is the most popular form of drag racing. I see and hear many people in the grandstands that don’t understand why one car gets a head start or don’t think the slower car has a chance at winning.

The first one to the finish line wins as long as they don’t go faster than they say they will. If you go faster than your time on your window this is called breaking out and you are disqualified unless your opponent brakes out more or commits a worse infraction such as red lighting or crossing the centerline. That’s it. Pretty simple. What makes it so exciting is all the skill and variables that go into it. And the beauty of it is that anyone with a drivers license and a set of wheels can go racing and be the star of the show, win money, prizes and bragging rights. This is how it works.

The driver makes some time passes to get an idea of what the cars ET (elapsed time from the start line to the finish line) will be. They then decide what ET they should put on the window. When the two cars come to the starting line both times are entered into the timing database. The slower car receives a head start equal to the difference of the two dial ins. The faster car then has to run down the slower car. The first one to cross the finish line without going faster than the dial in on the window wins then continues on to the next round or racing.

The reaction time or R/T is so important because the driver who has the best reaction time will have a head start on the other so when they get to the finish line they can successfully cross the finish line first without having to be as close to the dial in and the potential to break out. If the driver reacts too soon the car will exit the staging beams before the green light comes on and the red light will come on. They are then disqualified unless the other driver turns on the red light first. With red lights first is worst . Not who red lights by the most but whoever red lights first will be disqualified. For this reason the faster car has the advantage here because the likelihood of the slower car to red light first is greater since his lights come down first. If both cars run exactly on their dial in the driver with the best reaction time would cross the finish line first.

A perfect run would be a reaction time of 0.000 seconds and an ET that matches the cars dial in on the window. If both cars have perfect runs the times are measured down to one ten thousandth of a second and the winner is decided by the difference in ten thousandths. This shows how close this racing can be!

Bracket racing is a process of elimination. When a driver loses a round of racing they are then “put on the trailer” and disqualified from the event. The cars race two at a time round after round until it comes down to the final pair of surviving racers. They then race and the winner of the final round is the winner of the event for their class.



ET: The time it takes for a car to get from the starting line to the finish line.

Pre Stage: The front tires roll into the first beam on the starting light causing the pre stage bulb to come on.

Stage: The front tires roll into the second beam on the starting line causing the stage lights to come on. When both cars have reached this point the starter can activate the tree.

Deep Stage: This is when the front tires roll forward out of the pre stage beam but remain still in the stage beam turning off the pre stage lights. This can be used to try to get the car to have a quicker reaction time because the tires have to roll forward a lesser distance to break the beam and start the clock.

R/T: Reaction time. This is the amount of time it takes for the front tire to exit the staging beam after the green light comes on.

Red Light: This is when the car exits the staging beams after staging before the green light comes on. It is an automatic disqualification unless the driver in the other lane red lights first.

Dial In: This is the time the competitor wants the tower to enter in the timing system to establish their handicap.

Breakout: This is when one car covers the area between the starting line and the finish line in less time than the dial in on the window.

Double Breakout: This is when both cars cover the quarter mile in less time than their dial in.

Sand Bagging: This is when a competitor puts a dial in on the car that is slower than they know the car would reach the finish line if they ran the car all out without letting off the throttle or applying the brakes.

Dumping: This is when a competitor whom has put a slower dial in on their car than they know the car will run gets close to the finish line then applies the brakes in an attempt to get the other driver to cross the finish line first but faster than their dial in causing the opponent to break out and lose the race. It can also be when a driver feels they may be going too fast and “dump” some ET by letting off the throttle of applying the brakes.

Package: This is the combination of reaction time and ET compared to the dial in.

Density Altitude: The combination of air temperature, barometric pressure and humidity to combine one total elevation in comparison to the actual elevation. Used by racers to predict what the car will run for an ET based on changes in the weather.  The density altitude is what elevation the engine thinks it’s running at.

Perfect Light: When the front tires roll out of the beams and the time recorded is 0.000 seconds to do so (that’s one thousandth from red lighting).

Tower: This is where the race is run from. The announcer, timing computers, race management is in the tower.

Throttle Stop: This is an electronic or air powered solenoid attached to the throttle to over ride the driver’s foot on the accelerator. It is controlled by a computer.

Delay Box: This is a electronic module that is wired to a button or switch a driver controls on the starting line then routed to a rev limiter and or trans brake to delay when the car reacts compared to when the driver reacts. The driver then can electronically accommodate for fast or slow reaction times or leave off the top bulb of the tree rather than waiting for all the lights to come down.