NHRA 101


BURNOUT BOX—the area just before the starting line that is sprayed down with water, so you can do a quick burnout to warm up the tires or slicks for better traction and get rid of any debris lodged in them.


60-FOOT TIMER—Measures the time it takes the car to cross the first 60 feet of the track. This shows you how well the car launches, which affects your elapsed times.


660-FOOT TIMER—Measures elapsed time at the halfway point of a quarter-mile track. At some tracks, speed (in miles per hour) is also recorded. Some tracks also have timers at 330 and 1,000-foot intervals.


MILE-PER-HOUR TIMER—Also known as the speed line, this timer is located 66 feet before the finish line. It records the car’s average speed between it and the finish line. This is the mile-per-hour figure on your time slip.


FINISH LINE—When you cross the light beam at the end of the quarter-mile, you stop the ET clock. The amount of time (in seconds) between when the timer was activated and when it stopped is the ET figure on the time slip.


SHUTDOWN AREA—The area past the finish line, usually a quarter-mile or more in length, where you can safely slow the car down to take the turnout to the time slip booth. If something goes wrong and you can’t stop the car, most tracks have a sand trap, net, or another setup at the end of the shutdown to stop you.


PRE-STAGE INDICATOR LIGHTS: Round yellow bulbs that warn you when you are getting close to the starting line and the “staged” (ready to race) position.


STAGE INDICATOR LIGHTS: A second set of round yellow bulbs that tell you when you are on the starting line and ready to race. The bulbs light up when the front wheels of the car cross a beam of light that goes to a set of photocells. These cells trigger the timer when the car leaves the light beam.


COUNTDOWN LIGHTS: Round amber floodlights that count down to the green “go” light. There are two types of countdowns or starts. The pro start flashes all three lights simultaneously, with a .400-second difference between the amber and green lights. This is called a Pro or .400 Tree. The bracket starts flashing one light at a time, with a .500-second difference between the last amber and the green light. This is known as a .500 or Sportsman Tree.


GREEN LIGHT: This is the one you’re waiting for. When the green light flashes, it means you’re free to mash the gas pedal and make a run. This is called the launch.


RED LIGHT: If this bottom bulb flashes, you’re out. The red light will go off when you leave the starting line before the green light is activated, resulting in a disqualification. Known as “redlighting”, this action automatically gives the win to your opponent. Most drivers try to begin their launch just as the last of the three amber lights goes off. That puts the car in motion when the green light activates. This is where most bracket races are won or lost, so time practicing your staging and launching techniques is time well spent.


After you make a run, the officials in the little booth at the end of the track will hand you a piece of paper with numbers all over it. This paper is called the timeslip. The timeslip provides a wealth of information about a run. It tells you how well you launched, how quick and fast you went at various points on the track, and what your final ET and mile per hour were. And if you were racing against an opponent, the timeslip tells you how they did, too


CAR #: Most cars are assigned numbers at official races.


CLASS: Marked if running in an official race. Not used for “test and tune” sessions.


DIAL-IN: This is the elapsed time you think your car will run.


REACTION TIME: This tells you how quickly you reacted to the green light on the Christmas Tree. In this case, it is set as a .500 second or PRO Tree. You want your RT to be at or as close to .500 as possible. If you react faster than that, you’ve just redlighted.


60, 330, 1/8, MPH, AND 1000 ET AND MPH TIMES: These figures give you the elapsed times at the 60-foot, 330-foot, 660-foot or eighth-mile, and 1,000-foot marks. You also get the mile-per-hour figure at the 660-foot mark and MPH Quarter-Mile ET and MPH These are your finishing elapsed time and mile-per-hour numbers. When it comes to bragging rights, these are the ones that count!




SUNSCREEN - Wear sunscreen because you'll be sitting in the stands for hours in the middle of the day!

SUNGLASSES - You'll want to protect your eyes from the sun!

CAMERA - Capturing memories that will last forever.

SHARPIE OR PEN - For when you meet your favorite driver and get their autograph.

EXCITEMENT - Enjoy the racing and cheer on your favorite drivers.

HAT - To protect your head and neck from the sun.

WATER BOTTLE - unopened and factory sealed.

EAR PLUGS - These cars are very loud.

COMFORTABLE SHOES - There is a lot of walking and cool things to see!

SEAT CUSHION OR BLANKET - To keep you warm on colder nights.


Is this your first time visiting Route 66 Raceway for the Route 66 NHRA Nationals? Stop by the Route 66 Fan Pit Stop for an NHRA 101 Fan Guide!

Below, you can find out more about NHRA Drag Racing.


A drag race is an acceleration contest from a standing start between two vehicles over a measured distance. A drag racing event is a series of such two-vehicle, tournament-style eliminations. The losing racer in each contest is eliminated, and the winning racers continue until one remains.

Each race is started by an electronic device commonly called a Christmas Tree. On each side of the Tree are six lights: a circle of small blue lights at the top — the top half for pre-staging and the bottom half for staging — three larger amber bulbs, a green bulb, and a red bulb.

Two light beams cross the starting-line area and connect to trackside photocells, which are wired to the Tree and electronic timers in the control tower. When the front tires of a vehicle break the first light beam, the pre-stage beam, the pre-stage lights on the Tree indicate that the racer is about 7 inches from the starting line.

When the racer rolls into the stage beam, the front tires are exactly on the starting line. The stage bulbs light, indicating that the vehicle is ready to race. When both vehicles are fully staged, the starter will activate the Tree, and each racer will focus on the three large amber lights on his or her side.

Depending on the type of racing, all three amber lights will flash simultaneously, followed four-tenths of a second later by the green light (a Pro Tree), or the three bulbs will flash consecutively five-tenths of a second apart, followed five-tenths later by the green light (a Sportsman, or full, Tree).

Elapsed time (e.t.) and speed are monitored for each run. Upon leaving the staging beams, each vehicle activates an e.t. clock, which stops when the vehicle reaches the finish line. The start-to-finish clocking is the e.t. Speed measured in a 66-foot speed trap that ends at the finish line. Each lane is timed independently.

The first vehicle across the finish line wins, unless, in applicable categories, it runs quicker than its dial-under or index (see “Handicap and Index Racing”). A racer also may be disqualified for leaving the starting line too soon, leaving the lane boundary, failing to stage, or failing a post-run inspection.