Irwindale Event Center Dragstrip

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How to Drag Race - 102
The Place to Race!

Race Day at Irwindale Event Center

First of all, only "street legal" vehicles may participate at Irwindale Dragstrip. If you're not sure if you can race it at Irwindale Dragstrip, check the basic technical requirements web page for details. The term "street legal" means any vehicle that is legal on public streets. While the legal requirements of street vehicles vary, we try to accommodate those that may have minor infractions, i.e. tinted windows, aftermarket exhaust, broken taillight, etc. Our officials don't enforce vehicle codes but instead they strive to offer the illegal street racer a place to race that is safe, legal and fun.

What's first?
First, prepare for a day at the drag races. Bring only the essentials including:
Portable FM radio to hear announcements, a camera or video (for bragging rights), money for gate entry and lunch, sunscreen, folding chairs to be comfortable in the pits, helmet (required if car is quicker than 8.6 seconds & all motorcycles), long pants, shoes and sleeved shirt (for drivers). Also, if you don't want to leave something back in your pit space while you race, leave it at home.

Fill up with gas, check out your vehicle for safety and show up at the dragstrip. You will be asked at the gate if you want to race or watch. Racing participants pay $20 (car + driver) and spectators pay $10, children 12 and under are only $5 (kids under 5 and parking is free). You will receive a "tech card" and you'll be directed to the "technical inspection" lanes where your car will be checked for the basic safety items. Fill out the card, open your hood and trunk for inspection.

Technical Inspection

Before any vehicle can race it must first pass the basic safety inspection. Things such as tire tread, brakes, safety belts and steering are checked closely. No leaking fluids are allowed and mufflers are mandatory. Our friendly SFI Certified tech inspection personnel will assist racers with compliance issues.

Most late model factory original vehicles pass through tech inspection in only a few minutes while some of the highly modified muscle cars require more scrutiny. Approved racing type slicks are allowed since they are safer for the quicker accelerating vehicles. Some street legal racers choose to bring their vehicles in on trailers complete with shade canopies, barbecues and tools for a full day of safe, legal and fun racing at the track.

Racer Registration
Once the tech inspector is done checking your vehicle, he will sign it off allowing you to go to the next step at racer registration. All drivers must show a valid state driver license, and sign a liability release form before being allowed to race. You will be given a wristband and a "run-card" that shows track personnel that you have successfully completed the technical inspection/registration process. Finally, a number is applied to the windows of your vehicle using a white "shoe polish" like marker. That number is used to identify and group the competitors to race control personnel.

The Pits
You the racer, can now go find a pit space to claim as your own for the day. Using cones, tires or chairs to mark a space is common and acceptable, however you must be careful not to block fire-lanes or park in someone else's pit space. While it's acceptable to work on vehicles in the pits there is no draining of fluids allowed. Vehicles on jacks must use jackstands. Anytime the vehicle is running a licensed driver must be in the driver seat with all safety equipment in place. The speed limit in the pits is 6 m.p.h. really!

Spectators are welcome to walk or even park in the pits but as with all vehicles it's important that the fire-lanes remain open. Kids are allowed in the pits if supervised by an adult. Only licensed drivers may operate autos, golf cars, motorized scooters and motorbikes.

The Call to the Lanes
All dragstrip announcements can be heard on the radio at FM 104.7 and the public address system. When only a small number of racers show up at the track the "staging lanes" will be open to all racers at the same time. However, when a large number of racers show up on race day, the lane calls will be made by groupings. The groups will be called depending on the nature and format of the event. In example, if about half of the cars are imports and the other half are domestic cars then the call may be made by these groupings. Other times the groups will be made by car numbers…cars with 300 series numbers, then 400 series and so on.

When your group is called you may proceed to the rear of the "staging lanes". Be sure to bring your run card and have all loose items removed from the vehicle. As you drive into the rear of the staging lanes a track official will ask for your run card and direct you to a lane. This allows the track officials to verify that you have been through tech inspection and to give drivers some instructions if needed.

When you get to the front of the staging lanes another track official will again ask for your run-card. He will punch a hole in it to show that you've made a run and he may even do a quick check for safety items on your vehicle. He will then direct you to the starting line area of the track.

The Burn-Out
The area directly behind the starting line is called the "water box" and is designed for heating the tires to maximize traction. A track official will signal you to stop when the drive tires are in the water box. On his signal you may "powerbrake" the vehicle to spin the tires for up to 5 seconds. Properly done, the tires will heat up from spinning and start smoking as you allow the vehicle to move forward out of the water box.

A burn-out is not required and it's not even necessary for most tires. Vehicles that use racing slicks benefit the most from a good smoky burnout because the hot tires will provide maximum traction on the track. You should drive around the water box if you decide to skip the burn-out.

Only one burn-out is permitted and it cannot be done across the starting line.

Immediately after the burnout you may stage your vehicle on the starting line. Once both vehicles are staged, the Christmas tree will be activated to signal the start of the race. A good race will result if you're able to prevent the tires from spinning, drive straight and let the engine rev to maximum r.p.m.'s before shifting.

It's common for drivers in quicker cars to "feather" the accelerator to keep the tires from spinning. Excessive spinning of the tires will result in lost traction, slower speeds and can even cause you to lose control of the vehicle with disastrous results. If you feel you're spinning or losing control you should let off the accelerator and try racing again later.

How'd you do?
After your run, pick up your "time-slip" and return to your pit area. Relax and compare your times with others, make any needed adjustments and wait for the next call to the lanes. It is sometimes allowed for you to "hot lap" back to the staging lanes for more runs but be sure that it's allowed before returning to the lanes. If you're group has not been called to the lanes you will be turned back.

Your time slip will have your vehicle number, the class you're in (if applicable) and the incremental times of your run as well as other racers'. The first number is your dial-in printed as "R/T", followed by your 60' time, 330' time and finally you're 660' time printed as "E.T.", and your our top speed. Another number prints below as "MOV" which shows the mathematical margin-of-victory for your race.

Drag Racing 102 SUMMARY

Now that you've passed tech inspection…

  1. Give your signed TECH CARD to registration
  2. Show your DRIVER LICENSE
  3. Sign the "RELEASE OF LIABILITY" form
  5. Get a CAR NUMBER written on you windows
  6. Find a pit area for you car
  7. Tune you radio to 104.7 FM
  8. Go to "STAGING LANES" when called
  9. RACE ! ! !

Irwindale Event Center Dragstrip is the place to race!

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