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WHAT'S BRACKET RACING?
Bracket racing is a form of drag racing and the only motor sport I know of where you can actually race the family grocery getter and seriously compete. The sanctioning bodies such as the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) or International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) have created rules for bracket racing designed to "even things out" so that everyone has an equal chance to compete and win regardless of type of car, speed, and budget. Racetracks divide cars up into different categories based on performance and other modifications. There are a number of "brackets" (classes) The most common are "SuperPro, Pro, No/E, Street, Sport compact, High School and Jr Dragster. However, it doesn't really matter how the cars are divided, the rules are designed to put more emphasis on driver skills instead of "Whoever has the most money wins" It doesn't take a fast car to win bracket races, it takes a skillful driver.
HOW BRACKET RACING WORKS
All cars are raced on a handicap system based on “brackets” (classes) vehicle performance and it is up to the driver to determine his handicap. It's done like this: The driver makes a few qualifying runs, which are timed runs down the dragstrip. From these qualifying runs, the driver gets an idea of the time it takes for his car to run the quarter mile. For example, let's assume you made three qualifying runs with Run 1 of 16.00 seconds, Run 2, 16.02 and Run 3, 16.00 seconds. From these qualifying runs, you estimates your car will run the quarter in 16.00 seconds. The driver posts this time on his window, (this is called dialing the car). All drivers have to predict their performance out to the hundredth of a second. They will be timed to the 10,000ths of a second during eliminations. Eliminations is where cars are paired up against each other. The loser goes home. The winner of each pairing continues on until he too is either eliminated or becomes the final round winner. Only one driver will win.
When the cars and drivers are paired for eliminations, the slower car of the two gets a handicap start (head start). Let's suppose a 15 second car gets paired with 14 second car. The handicap is determined by subtracting the slower from the faster time, (15-14=1) or 1 second. So the 15.00 second car gets a head start and the 14.00 second car can't leave until one second later. The start is controlled electronically by a "Christmas Tree" (the starting line lights ) that shows a series of three amber lights and one green light for each driver. Each driver watches the lights for there lane and leaves at the appropriate time. If both drivers are correct in their dial, both will arrive at the finish line at the same time.
That sounds easy whats the Catch?
Ok here’s the catch, the rules state that any vehicle that runs faster than it's dial LOSES. This means that if the 15.00 second car runs 14.9999, he loses. This is called a "Breakout". If you breakout, you lose. What if both cars breakout you ask. If both breakout, the win goes to the car that breaks out the least. This impacts the race and puts a major emphasis on the driver. The race becomes a matter of predicting the car's performance, and applying your driving/tuning ability to be able to make your car run the dial you put on the window. At the same time, you have to beat the car and driver in the other lane to the finish line without Breaking out. It is a challenge!
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