Drag Racing Terms
Breakout: A racer running quicker than he or she “dialed in” his or her vehicle. Unless your opponent commits a more serious foul (e.g., red-lights, crosses the centerline, or fails a post-race inspection), the driver who breaks out loses. If both drivers break out, the one who runs closest to his or her dial-in wins.
Burnout: spinning the rear tires to heat and clean them prior to a run for better traction.
Christmas Tree / Tree: The electronic starting device between the lanes on the starting line. It displays a light countdown for each driver.
Deep stage: to roll a few inches farther into the beams after staging, which causes the pre-stage lights to go out. In that position, a driver is closer to the finish line but dangerously close to a foul start.
Dial-in: The time you pick as your handicap. You want to run as close to this time as possible without going faster.
Elapsed time / ET: The time it takes a vehicle to travel from the starting line to the finish line. ET doesn’t include reaction time.
Eliminations: Vehicles race two at a time, resulting in one winner from each pair. Winners continue in tournament-style competition until only one remains.
Full Tree: used in classes with a handicap start. The three yellow bulbs on the Christmas Tree flash consecutively .5 seconds apart, followed .5 seconds later by the green starting light. A perfect reaction time on a full Tree is .500.
Holeshot: when a driver reacts quicker to the Christmas Tree to win a race against an opponent with a quicker E.T.
Interval timers: part of a timing system that records elapsed times at 60 and 660 feet.
Pre-stage: to position the front wheels about seven inches behind the starting line so the uppermost small yellow lights atop that driver’s side of the Christmas Tree are glowing.
Pro Tree: used in heads up professional racing. All three large amber lights on the Christmas Tree flash simultaneously, followed four-tenths of a second later by the green starting light. A perfect reaction time on a Pro Tree is .400.
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. The reaction-time counter begins when the last amber light flashes on the Tree and stops when the vehicle clears the stage beam.
Red Light / Foul Start: Indicated by a red light on the Christmas Tree when a car has left the starting line before the green light.
Sixty-foot time: the time it takes a vehicle to cover the first 60 feet of the racetrack. It is the most accurate measure of the launch from the starting line.
Stage: Positioning the front wheels right on the starting line so the second row of small yellow lights are on. Once both drivers are staged, the calibrated countdown (see Christmas Tree) may begin.
Trap: the final 66 feet to the finish line where speed is recorded.