What is a Bracket Race?
A bracket drag race is a straight-line acceleration contest between two cars, usually starting at different times, from a standing start over a specified distance, usually a quarter-mile or an eighth-mile. Racers line up in front of a countdown device called a Christmas Tree. When they leave the starting line, timers record how long it takes them to reach the finish line. This is called elapsed time, or ET for short. Top speed is also recorded.
The best way to get your feet wet is to go to a “test and tune” session (most tracks have them weekly). For a small fee, you can practice your starting line procedure, learn how the car reacts to tuning changes, and make passes down the track without the pressure of racing against someone. You should also take time to watch how other racers do things, and most importantly, ask questions. Most racers will be happy to give you pointers on improving your technique.
When you’re ready to race against other people, you can compete in your track’s weekly series. Your car will be put in a category, or class, based on the elapsed time of your car. Top speed is not a factor in bracket racing. You will need to determine how quick you think your car will be. This is called the dial-in. When you are matched up with another car, the dial-ins are compared, and the slower car is given a head start equal to the difference between the two. To win, you want to run as close to your dial-in as possible without going faster, or “breaking out.”
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