In Our April '07 issue, associate MM&FF scribe Frank H. Cicerale explained the ins and outs of drag racing. Over the years, we've seen a lot of stupid stuff happen at the track, most of which is easily avoidable. So we decided to compile a list of 25 tips to make your track experience more enjoyable, both on and off the strip.
Once you have these under your belt, or in your head, page over to Neil Van Oppre's event calendar, as he'll show you where and when the big Mustang drag racing events are happening. After you've gotten past the normal test and tune session, a great place to get your feet wet in a competitive setting is in Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords own True Street class, which is held at NMRA events all over.
1. Check Your Nuts
If you're going to be traveling in your vehicle at a high rate of speed, you should check your lug nuts with a proper torque wrench, especially if you've swapped your tires for a set of sticky rubber bands. Oh, and don't drop the torque wrench or it can lose its accuracy.
2. Chained To Your Stang
Stay with your car when you're in the staging lanes. You never know when the track officials will need to make a change in the run order and call your lane. If the lanes are packed, your car may hold up all of the others behind you while you're at the concession stand or in the can.
3. Heroes Are For Hollywood
Racing for most of us is a hobby. Even if it's your profession, it's not worth taking unnecessary risks on the track. Your friends may tease you about lifting off the throttle when your car gets out of shape, but anyone who knows anything about drag racing will commend you for doing the smart thing-that, and your car won't have to go home on the back of a flatbed. Another thing is that if you feel something may be wrong with your car, pull over to the side of the track as safely and quickly as you can. If you just threw three rods out the side of the block, your quick reaction and move to the side of the track will expedite cleanup so everyone else can continue.
4. Be Prepared
As the Boy Scout motto points out, if you plan ahead, you can save yourself trouble later on. Did you air up the slicks in your back hatch in case the track doesn't have any? Did you bring the jack and the correct lug wrench? Do you have enough gas to make your runs and get back to the nearest gas station? Did you check the track schedule to make sure there were no last-minute changes or cancellations? Did you bring a dial-in marker or white shoe polish?
5. Shed The Pounds
Make sure there are no CD cases and iPods flying around in the cockpit while making your runs. Secure everything in the glovebox, center console, a friend's car, or just leave the crap at home. You need only your safety gear and driver's license. Speaker boxes can be both good and bad. Make sure they're secure, but consider testing with and without them, as the lightweight back end of your ponycar might benefit from some extra ballast.
6. Respect Your Host
Be kind and courteous to the track personnel. They're there to ensure your safety first and foremost, as well as the safety of the other racers. Keep an eye on the track workers from the time you enter the staging lanes until the time the light turns green, and obey all commands from them as they may be able to see something that you can't, not to mention the fact that it's their house you're visiting.
7. Peripheral Ponies
In addition to the many gauges you're looking at, shifters you're shifting, and traction you may be fighting, be sure to keep an eye out for the guy or gal in the other lane. They could lose control of their car, and if you never look, you won't see them coming over into your lane until it's too late. This also goes for the shutdown area, as you'll want to keep track of the other car so you don't cross into it, or vice versa.