Let’s Talk NHRA: A Beginner’s Guide to Drag Racing

September 14, 2017

The NHRA Carolina Nationals return to zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina this weekend, September 15-17. Brush up on your drag racing knowledge and be in the know!

Are you a first time fan who’s wanted to experience a race? Or maybe you’ve been to an event but never fully understood the ins and outs. The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) offers a list of common drag racing terms that’ll help you sound like a seasoned fan in no time. Here are a few to get you started:

BURNOUT: Before every run, drivers spin their rear tires in water to heat and clean them for better traction.

  1. Burnout: Before every run, drivers spin their rear tires in water to heat and clean them for better traction.
  2. Christmas Tree: Also called ‘the tree,’ this is the electronic starting device between lanes on the starting line. It displays a calibrated-light countdown for each driver.
  3. Elapsed time: Also known as e.t., this is the time it takes a vehicle to travel from the starting line to the finish line.
  4. Eliminations: After qualifying, vehicles race two at a time, resulting in one winner from each pair. Winners continue in tournament-style competition until one remains.
  5. Nitromethane: Produced specifically as a fuel for drag racing, it is the result of a chemical reaction between nitric acid and propane.
  6. Pre-stage: To position the front wheels about seven inches behind the starting line so the small yellow lights on top of the Christmas Tree are glowing.
  7. Reaction time: The time it takes a driver to react to the green starting light on the Christmas Tree, measured in thousandths of a second.
  8. Sixty-foot time: The time it takes a vehicle to cover the first 60 feet of the racetrack.
  9. Speed trap: The final 66 feet to the finish line where speed is recorded.
  10. Wheelie bars: Used to prevent excessive front-wheel lift.

The NHRA Carolina Nationals is the first of six races in the NHRA Mello Yello Series Countdown to the Championship. This race pairs up the best drivers in the NHRA as they begin their quest to the winner’s circle! All tickets to the event include a pit pass that gives attendees access to observe drivers, teams, and highly-skilled mechanics who work on the 10,000-horsepower hot rods at work.

Thinking about getting in on the action this weekend? Browse the full NHRA Glossary here, and get your tickets at CharlotteMotorSpeedway.com. Then, stop by the Visit Cabarrus Mobile Visitor Center on race day for area information and fun games and giveaways. We’re located in the fan zone behind John Force Grandstand.

See you at the dragway!