Here at Raceweb we always encourage people
to take it to the track. Especially in today’s times of
rampant stupidity levels and discreet Ghost Squad fleets prowling
the streets. But to a lot of people that process never really
happens for whatever reason. So when my buddy Nabeel decided
to take me up on my preaching, I thought it was high time we
did a story on the process of getting your ass off the streets
and getting it on the track.
Street 2 Strip is one of Killarney Raceways most popular events
with sometimes thousands of spectators and hundreds of entrants.
It’s designed to do exactly what’s it’s called,
getting guys off the street and getting them onto the strip
where everything is legal and safe. If there’s one place
to have a drag race, it’s here on the strip, it’s
the safest piece of road in the world. There are no cops, no
oncoming traffic, support vehicles and medical personal on hand.
What more could you ask for. Oh yes, if you listen carefully,
you’ll hear your time too, but it’s always best
to ask a friend to listen out for you.
Racing on the streets is the easiest, quickest and cheapest
way to get your adrenalin levels pumping, but it’s against
the law, dangerous and just downright dumb. So don’t do
it! Because contrary to popular belief, there’s no such
thing as street cred.
So getting back to street to strip, it was set to take place
on a Saturday night, from 7pm to 10pm. We headed out just after
6pm hoping to make it in time for registration.
We arrived at a packed entrance with cars parked halfway out
A registration queue not to be messed with. This is where all
racers need to register and pay in order to race. It’s
known as the caravan and can be found just outside the second
entrance of Killarney.
After waiting for a while we just about made it to enter as
there’s a 200 car cut off limit. Nabeel was 190 something,
so it’s best to get there much, much earlier than we did.
If you haven’t raced before, you need to fill out some
basic paperwork, pay your R20 and get your racers arm band.
Once that’s all complete put the sticker you received
at registration on your front windscreen, preferably top driver’s
side corner for convenience. This tells security and marshals
that you are here to race and they will direct you in the correct
Once you’re inside, the first thing you need to do is
head to scrutineering. More than likely there will be a queue
of racers waiting to have their cars checked out. It’s
only the basics.
For starters make sure your car is in a roadworthy condition
and everything works. Seat belts, tyres, make sure all your
wheel nuts are on and tight, if you have mags that have closed
covers make sure you remove them so your wheel nuts are exposed.
Brakes and leaks will be checked and be sure to have your battery
bolted down. Loose batteries are a danger hazard and cars won’t
be allowed to race if their batteries are not bolted/clamped
down. Also have your helmet in the car as it will also be inspected.
Like I said, these are just the basics, so there’s nothing
to worry about.
All is in order, number received.
Once done with scrutineering, head to the back of the racers
queue and line up with someone. Here Nabeel lines up against
a Nissan Sentra 200STi… a typical sleeper car nowadays.
Not long after a fellow Astra Coupe driver approached Nabeel
and asks if he wants to run against him rather. Nabeel obliges
for the sake of gauging against a slightly modded version of
his own car.
Make sure you had supper as you will end up pushing your car
in the line for about 30 minutes. It all depends how busy it
is and if there’s no issues on track things run smoothly.
Getting closer to the front of the queue and start line a marshal
checks up once more on each car and driver to make sure everything
is in order.
This is where you should “suit up”! Helmet strapped
on, seatbelt on, make sure you are wearing long pants and a
long sleeve top or jacket and have your arm band ready and visible.
The marshal will check all these things.
Soon after its time. Game face on! Let’s do this! The
start line marshal will signal you to pull up with your tyres
on the burn out area or concrete patch just before the strip
and will tell you to wait. This is due to the previous two cars
that just ran. You have to wait until they are done racing and
until it’s all clear.
Once the all clear is given to the start line marshal he will
in turn signal you to warm up by waving his hands in a circular
motion. This means one of two things. 1. You can pull up to
the line and stage. Or 2, you can do a quick burn out to warm
up your tyres.
For street cars running on street tyres, warm ups are not necessary.
But guys love to do it anyways and the crowd loves it even more.
Win the crowd and half your job is already done. Sounds like
a gladiator match doesn’t it?
Burn out/warm up complete, reverse back, stop, and then pull
forward and get ready to stage. This is the tricky part for
most new comers as you have to understand how the staging beams
work as they trigger the lights or xmas tree.
In order to stage, you must roll forward, slowly. Four white
staging lights on the xmas tree will be flashing. Roll a bit
more forward until you see two white lights turn solid, or stop
flashing. This means you are close to the beams and just need
to go a little more forward. Remember, you stage with your front
wheels, not back wheels.
A hint would be to use your handbrake to stop you rolling too
far forward. By doing this you can keep your right foot on the
throttle and not have to worry about braking and then revving
it up to get going. Roll forward ever so slightly once more
until all four white staging lights turn solid. Now you’re
staged and ready to race! Rev it up and wait for the lights
to turn green, or should you?
Once both cars are staged, the lights will drop and the race
will begin. But why do I ask if you should wait for the green
light? Well the answer is yes and no. If you launch too soon,
or before the green light goes off, you will be red lighted
and your race is over before it even begins. The trick is timing.
You have to time the lights. Let me explain. Once both cars
are staged, three amber lights drop and then the green. But
it happens very quickly. So the real trick is to launch on amber.
Because by the time you drop the clutch and the wheels spin
and the car actually moves forward and breaks the beams, the
green light would have been on for ages already. By ages I mean
milliseconds. And in a drag race, every millisecond counts.
If it’s your first time, you don’t really need to
bother with that scenario as all you need to concentrate on
is not jumping the lights or bogging on the line. The above
way is good if you want to have great reaction times and out
launch your opponent. Reaction time has nothing to do with your
quarter mile time. But it does help you win races. Reaction
time is the time it takes your front wheels to move forward
from standstill after the green light has gone off. Your quarter
mile time only starts once your front wheels have moved forward
and broken the beam. So technically the green light could have
gone off 10 seconds ago and if your car hasn’t moved yet,
your quarter mile time hasn’t started. Only your reaction
time is ticking.
It’s time to race! Nabeel lines up, does a quick warm
up and stages. Lights drop and off they go. He ends up wheel
spinning a bit which caused the traction control to kick in
and lost some time. He completes his maiden run in 15.5 seconds.
Not bad, but it can be improved.
Finish the run, head back to the end of the racers queue and
start pushing forward once more. Soon enough he’s at the
front of the line again and it’s time to race! This time
he is up against a Mk1 Golf. Warm up, stage, off they go. Nabeel
wins his run comfortably but a change in launch tactic results
in a slower overall time of 15.9 seconds. He tried not to wheel
spin as much but in turn caused the car to bog. A win is a win
none the less.
Third run: This time he’s up against a new spec Polo GTi…
with semi slicks. That could only mean one thing, it’s
boosted more than factory spec and it should be quick. DSG gear
box makes for super quick gear changes too! Nabeel has his work
cut out for him.
Once again, a different tactic was applied. The traction control
of the Astra was disengaged. Now he should be able to rev it
up how he wants to and control it with his right foot. Unfortunately
things never worked out according to plan and he gets beaten
by a quicker car, the Polo.
Here's something that a lot of racer's don’t pay attention
to, the finish line. Believe it or not, a lot of new comers
don’t know where it is or what it looks like. Well here's
a closer look at it.
When you're in the car you won’t be able to see it until
you've crossed it, but just look out for the multiple yellow
lines and two flashing beacons on either side of the line. Make
sure you cross it under full acceleration, but be sure to slow
down immediately after.
Three runs in the bag and Nabeel feels it’s time to call
it a night. The car never broke, so that’s all that matters.
In the end it’s a case of having a quick car, but not
knowing the conditions you’re racing in. Unfortunately
the odd one out here was the driver, but he isn’t to blame.
As it’s not about not knowing how to drive, its learning
your battle ground. Racing on the street compared to the track
is a whole different ball game and you never master it one outing.
With anything it takes time and practice. But once you hook
it all up it’s all worth it in the end.
So to Nabeel, hats off for taking me up on bringing your ride
to the track! It was a hard lesson to learn, but a lesson well
learnt! Hope to see you on track soon! And that goes for the
rest of you readers too! Log on to www.wpmc.co.za to keep updated
on future Street2Strip events. Have a look at the in car video
below from one of my race's at Street 2 Strip, it will give
you a better idea of how it all happens.