FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Click on any question below to see the answer.

No. You’ll need to have cash to get in the gate.

 

Racing is usually underway by 10am on Saturday, and 9am on Sunday.

The public gates open at 8am. Racing normally finishes about 5pm on Saturday. The finals are usually run about 3.30pm on Sunday.

Yes. Your own food and drink is allowed.

Unfortunately we can not predict the weather. We’ll do our best to update any schedule changes due to weather on the day via our Facebook page. You can also check out one of the many local Masterton weather reports.

It depends how far through the meeting we’ve gone. Rain often clears up, and we will resume racing after the track dries but this can often take up to 30 minutes after the rain stops. If the day’s racing is called off, we will announce this over the speakers.

No. Camping facilities are available for racers and crew only.

The “Christmas tree” is the starting mechanism for the race

  • The top white lights are called the “pre stage lights”. These come on when the front of the car/bike’s front tyre is 175mm (7 inches) from the stage beam
  • The second white lights are called the “stage lights”. These come on when the front of the car/bike’s front tyre is at the stage beam
  • The three yellow lights only come on when the starter starts the race. For handicapped races they come on one at a time for 0.4 seconds each This is called a “full tree”. For the top categories that are not handicapped (called “heads up”) all three flash on at the same time, also for 0.4 seconds. This is called a “pro tree”
  • The green light comes on 0.4 seconds after the last yellow light comes on. This means the race has started
  • The red light comes on either 1) if the car/bike leaves the start line before the green light is on, or 2) if there is no car in that lane.

 

A burnout has two specific purposes. Firstly, it heats the tyre rubber making it softer and stickier, giving more traction. Secondly for competition vehicles that have slicks it deposits a thin layer of hot sticky rubber on the race track surface. When the car/bike backs up, the crew attempt to get the racer to line the car/bike up so that the hot sticky tyres are directly on the thin layer of hot sticky rubber they have just laid, to give the maximum traction at the start. This is the job of the person at the front of the car, when they wave they are signaling the racer to steer so that this happens.

 

There is a win light for each lane on the large number boards at the finish line. The light for the winning lane is lit for a few seconds before the next race is set up in the timing system. Additionally, the lights on the Christmas tree flash for the winning lane, but sometimes this is hard to see unless you are quite a way down the track so can see both sides of the Christmas tree.

 

Most racing uses a handicap system but during qualifying (usually all racing on Saturday is “qualifying”) the cars are not racing each other, they are trying to get their best time, or best reaction (depending on the category) so there is no handicap. This may mean that the racing appears to be mismatched and one car will often be much quicker than the other one. When actual eliminations start, handicapping is used and the cars are often very close at the finish line.

 

To ensure both racers have a fair chance of winning, most racing uses a handicap to give the slower car/bike a head start. There are two types of handicapping.

DYO:

Most handicapping uses a system called “Dial Your Own” (DYO). In this system each racer chooses their own handicap, and the slower car/bike gets a head start that is the difference between the two DYOs. The racer usually chooses a DYO that is slightly faster than their car/bike is capable of going. To ensure racers don’t get an unfair advantage by choosing a DYO that is slower than their car/bike is capable of, if the racer goes quicker than their DYO they are disqualified – this is called a “Breakout”

Index:

In index racing, the handicap is chosen for you by the national governing body. The index the same for all cars/bikes in the same class, and is usually a bit lower (called “softer”) than the current national record for the class. If the national record is broken, then the index for that class is reset for the next race meeting, but the car/bike that broke the national record will get an advantage for the rest of the race meeting because they can go much quicker than their index. Unlike DYO, there is no “breakout” for index racing so if you can go a little bit quicker than the index without breaking the national record, you should be able to win your races, all else being equal!

 

A class is a specific specification for a car/bike, including its body style, engine type/size and its weight. A class designation (such as A/D) is made up of two parts. The first (the ‘A’ in this example) is its power to weight ratio with the lower the letter, the heavier or less powerful it is – ‘A’ being the lightest most powerful combination, and H being the heaviest least powerful combination. A powerful engine in a heavy car/bike will have a lower letter than the same engine in a lighter car. If the letter is a double (eg AA) this means the engine has a “power adder” such as a supercharger, turbocharger(s) or NOS. The second part (the ‘D’ in this example) is the body style. A is an altered, D is a dragster, FC is a funny car, TS is a top street (street appearing) scr, DB is a dragbike, PCB is a pushrod bike (like an old style Triumph or Harley). There are a few exceptions, and there are differences in the way different governing bodies make up the classes. Each class has its own national record for ET and for speed (mph)

A category or bracket is a group of vehicles that race together to produce one winner. Some categories are predetermined by the national governing body for example “Super Sedan” A category can have cars that are classified (have a class) or that are specially build for the category. Specially built cars also have an identification system but this is much simpler. For super sedan there is SS/A for v8 cars, SS/B for six cylinder cars, and SS/C for four cylinder cars. Categories pre-determined by the NZDRA are Junior Dragster (for dragsters and Funny Cars, drivers between 7 – 18 years old), Super Street (for registered and warranted cars slower than 11.00 seconds), Modified (for Altereds, Dragsters and Funny Cars), Super Sedan (for street appearing cars) and Modified Bike (for street appearing bikes).

For some race meetings, Masterton Motorplex will create its own categories. For example, we often have “Import Street” for registered/warranted Japanese based street cars), Dragstalgia Hot Rod for hot rods older than 1948, Dragstalgia Muscle Car for muscle cars from 1948 to 1972.

All categories are assigned a number so the computer system can manage the racing, which is why you will sometimes hear phrases such as “C8” (which is Super Street). A list of the categories being run at the meeting is always attached to the entry booth (in the pits, just behind the VIP stand).

A bracket is another name for a category, but is often used to refer to categories that are based on ET. For example, there may be a series of brackets set at 7.5, 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 etc. In each bracket race cars that are slower than the bracket name but quicker than the next bracket name. For example in the 7.50 bracket are cars that are slower than 7.50 but quicker than 8.50

 

The sole purpose of drag racing is to get to the finish line before the other racer (without breaking out). This is all about acceleration – the “G-force”. The time taken to get from the start line to the finish line is called the “elapsed time” or “ET”, and the timing system calculates this to six decimal places! Because the ET is about time, not speed, the ET is how “quick” the car/bike goes and the winner is the “quickest”. Although not used to determine the outcome of the race, associated with the ET is the speed the racer is going at the finish line. As drag racing is an American sport, this is usually calculated in miles per hour, and racers have speed personal bests as well as ET personal bests. This is how “fast” the racer is going, and so is different from how “quick” (which is the ET). Most street cars/bikes have speeds in the range of 90 mph (145 km/h) to 120 mph (195 km/h). Only the top cars can go faster than 200 mph as this takes over 2000 horsepower (1500 kW).

 

Reaction time is the time (in thousandths of a second) between the green light coming on and the back of the front wheel going past the start line. A “perfect” reaction time is 0.000, and anything between 0.000 and 0.050 is very good. Reaction time is important because the race doesn’t start until the car/bike has left the start line. If the reaction time is poor (higher than 0.150) then the other car/bike is already racing before they have even left the start line!

Because it takes time for the racer’s body to react to the green light, then even more time for the car/bike to move past the start line, racers usually start when they see the bottom (third) yellow light. This means the car/bike actually starts to move before the green light comes on (but does not go completely past the start line). If the back of the front wheel goes past the start line before the green light comes on, then the racer is disqualified, and the red light comes on. This is called “popping a cherry” or “red-lighting”.

 

A holeshot win is when the winning racer has a worse ET but still wins the race because they had a better reaction time

Driving around is when the winning racer had a worse reaction time (i.e they left the start line last) but had a quicker ET to ‘drive around’ the other racer to reach the finish line first

A win at both ends is when the winning racer has both a better reaction time and a quicker ET, (i.e. the won at the start line and at the finish line – a comprehensive win!)

 

These are all types of fuel used to power the cars/bikes.

  • Gas is ordinary petrol, the same as you buy from a petrol station
  • Avgas is a high octane petrol used to power propeller type aeroplanes. It is illegal to use avgas on the road. Used for engines up to approximately 400 – 500 horsepower
  • C16 (and C12, C14) are purpose made high octane fuel based on petrol for high compression engines that are so “hotted up” they cannot run on petrol or avgas. The higher the engine compression, the higher number fuel needed. Used for engines from 400 horsepower to approximately 1200 horsepower
  • NOS is a compressed liquid (it is a gas when it is uncompressed), nitrous oxide (the same laughing gas dentists use). NOS is not an engine fuel on its own, but is injected into a petrol (or avgas or C16) engine as a liquid along with additional petrol. Under compression it breaks down into nitrogen and oxygen, so it is like pouring liquid oxygen into the engine, adding lots of extra horsepower
  • Alcohol is methanol (methyl alcohol). It is a very pure version of methylated spirits. An engine needs to be specially built to run on alcohol, but it is much cheaper than C16. Used for engines from 500 horsepower up to 4,000 horsepower
  • Fuel (also called top fuel or nitro) is nitromethane, a type of rocket fuel. It will not burn in its natural state, but once compressed, it will explode, producing engine outputs of over 11,000 horsepower. Fuel can be very difficult to tune and if the crew chief gets it wrong, the resulting engine explosions can be spectacular

 

Are we missing something? Please, let us know!