Team MM&FF
September 23, 2013

Shut Down

No run is complete until you're back in the pits. As you cross the traps, you must slow down and make a safe turnoff. Brake accordingly and note the location of the competitor in the other lane. You don't want to cut off another driver or be cut off yourself. Don't speed on the return road or in the pits, and pay attention until you're back in the lanes or your pit. And most of all, have fun!

Part 1: Learning the basics of drag racing can make you lightning quick.

B-Rad the Racer

Despite only owning two muscle cars in my life, I consider myself a car guy. With that said, I have never taken the opportunity to go down the track in a serious way. Part of my procrastination was my desire to be instructed and do it right from the beginning.

We all think we're great drivers, but I have been to the track often enough to know this isn't the case. Those lanes and lights are the great equalizer of reality. So I've been asking my lifelong friend Eeditor Evan Smith to school me.

That lands me at Bradenton Motorsports Park on a Thursday night of test-and-tune to cut my teeth. I was first given the basics about how to get down the track employing good tactics. Smitty, being the coach, suggested I make a couple of passes to see what he was working with and what needed to be fixed.

Now understand, even though I am good friends with the crew at MM&FF, I was more nervous than a senior on his way home from the prom in a limo with his date. On the first pass, I did a burnout that wasn't nearly long enough and I didn't drive out of the burnout under power. At the lights, I left around 2,500 rpm and bogged a bit. I was not aggressive on my shifts and managed to miss Fourth going into Sixth, resulting in a 12.97.

On the second pass, I did the same thing and missed Fourth, earning a 12.91 (how embarrassing), but I was far from giving up. I just needed to get rid of my nervous energy.

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On my fourth pass, I tried to do a more substantial burnout and I powered out. Evan turned my rearview mirrors down to the tires and told me not to let up till I saw a good cloud of smoke. I returned to the lanes with a 12.71 and a third miss of Fourth gear. I attribute this to trying too hard. I made a few more passes but I will spare you the details on those.

Before my seventh pass, Evan and I discussed what I was doing wrong. He felt I was ready to give it the needed burnout, launch much harder, and stop thinking about dialing Fourth and getting the busy signal. He also said it is imperative after the burnout to come to a full stop, gather yourself, take time pre-staging. Then again come to a full stop and take a deep breath before rolling forward to stage.

On my next try, I revved the engine to about 6,000 rpm and jumped off the clutch. I maintained a solid burnout with a fair amount of smoke, and I powered out hard. I will say it felt like I was in the gas much longer, so maybe that's why I was letting out of it too early in my prior passes. I did all of these things, then staged and launched at about 4,500 rpm.

I laid the gas pedal to the floor with purpose but avoided putting a hole though the firewall; I focused on clean, quick shifts at 7,200 rpm. Having a qualified person show me the ropes worked exactly as I had hoped, which resulted in my 12.18 at 113 mph! With a fairly heat-soaked engine, I was able to back this up with a strong time of 12.21.

While I have a way to go before being able to maximize the car's potential, I came away from the experience knowing I had been shown the basics and could build off the experience. —Brad Adler

Brad's Runs
1. 12.979 at 99 mph (1.92 60-foot), missed Fourth, bogged, no rollout after burnout
2. 12.970 at 100.8 (1.93 60-foot), missed Fourth
3. 12.548 at 112.89 (1.90 60-foot), weak burnout
4. 12.710 at 98.82 (1.79 60-foot), missed Fourth
5. 12.185 at 113.05 (1.74 60-foot), all fell into place, better burnout
6. 12.245 at 113.45 (1.74 60-foot), all fell into place