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Drag Racing Tips: How To Get Your Street Car Through Tech Inspection and Down The Track

Source: Research Dept
Date: September 23, 2011
Revision Date: N/A

Drag racing is the most accessible sport to the masses in both the types of cars that can compete and quantity of motorsports tracks across the globe. Generally any vehicle that can pass a state inspection can race on a drag strip. With that said drag racing can be intimidating to a beginner...with all the race cars in the pits, mean looking tech inspectors, loud noises, and strange track procedures it can be sensory overload. Luckily we have a few tips to help you get through tech inspection and down the track safely and with lots of fun!

As a rule of thumb the faster your vehicle runs down the drag strip the higher the technical expectations of the vehicle. Generally most tech inspectors do a basic vehicle-safety check that includes: checking for functioning brakes, verifying brake light operation, checking the steering for excessive play, checking the driver seat for solid mounting, looking for loose objects in the cabin, and checking the function of the door handles. Every competitor must wear closed toe shoes, pants, and at a minimum a tee-shirt.

Other areas that are checked include (And are standard with every car):

  • Battery Hold-down: Your battery must be held down with a fixed metal strap.
  • Coolant Overflow Tank: Must be capped and attached to the radiator.
  • Reverse Lockout & Neutral Safety Switch: OEM transmissions come with these federally mandated switch. The switch basically stops the car from being shifted into reverse while driving forward and stops the vehicle from being started when in gear.
  • Lug Nuts: All lugs nuts and studs must be installed. Any missing and you will not be able to race.
  • Tires: Must have ample tread depth (Street Tires) less any defects: tread separation, cupping, etc
  • Seatbelts: Working as designed without any tears. Faster vehicle may require a five point harness.
  • Leaks: If you car is leaking any fluid it will not be able to run. Make sure you do NOT run your A/C while at the track.

For "fast" cars areas that are checked include (Chances are you street car will NOT go faster than 13.99 unless its a high powered sports / muscle car):

  • Drive shaft Safety Loop: If your car goes 13.99 or quicker or runs slicks, you're required to have an approved drive shaft safety loop (mounted within 6 inches of the front U-joint) that's at least 1/4-inch thick and 2-inches wide and provides 360 degrees of drive shaft en-closure.
  • Rollbar Requirement: Any open-roof or convertible car running 13.99 or quicker must have a minimum of a five-point rollbar to race. For those running 10.99 or quicker, an eight-point (or more) rollcage is required.
  • Hardtop cars must have at least a five-point rollbar when running 11.99 or quicker and a full rollcage (eight-point or more) when running 9.99 or quicker.
    Auto Tranny Shields: Vehicles running 10.99 or quicker (or over 135 mph) must have an SFI-approved tranny shield or tranny blanket.
  • Auto Tranny Flexplates: Vehicles running 9.99 or quicker, or over 135 mph, must have an SFI-approved flexplate and flexplate shield.
  • Bellhousing/Scattershield: Manual tranny cars running 11.99 or quicker must have an SFI-approved scattershield with a proper shattershield-to-block plate.
  • Helmet Requirements: If your car runs 13.99 or quicker, you'll be required to wear a SNELL- or SFI-approved helmet. A valid SNELL or SFI sticker must be visible on the inside of the helmet, and the helmet must be in good visual condition (no cracks, chips, gouges, and so on).
  • Battery Cutoff Switch: A battery cutoff switch if required on all cars running 9.99 or quicker or over 135 mph. The switch must be wired to the positive side of the electrical system and must be clearly labeled with the "off" position at the rear of the car.

Additional rules may apply to your vehicle and its best to speak with the race track for any special requirements.

Special thanks to Hot Rod Magazine for supplying their expertise for this article!

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