Jalopnik headed out to Sacramento Raceway Park in Northern California to enjoy some Wednesday night street legal tire-smokin' mayhem. Does the rent-a-racer stand a chance against Corvette Z06s and boosted-to-hell-and-gone VTEC Civics?
The crowd on a Wednesday night drag race is a melting pot of automotive enthusiasts. You will see the hardcore front wheel drive racers pulling out their passenger seats so their Civic will run 17.10 seconds in the quarter mile (as opposed to the unmodified -passenger seat equipped 17.20). You will also see a huge contingent of clutch-destroying Camaros and Mustangs running in the 13s or better. And then there are guys like me, at the track in a rental car, "Run what you brung." Just don't mention it to Hertz.
E.T. bracket racing is competition that doesn't require a fast car. All you have to do to win a race is be consistent and have good reaction times. If you're not familiar with this type of drag racing, check out the Racer Boy column on the subject at Speed:Sport:Life.
Everybody knows that the first step to any good drag racing pass is the burnout. It is an American rite of passage to heat up the tires, make a little smoke and psych out your opponent. In this situation, taking the front seat out of the Civic really won't help. Good burnouts require torque and lots of it. As this 70s Firebird's hood below exclaims, some might even say you need stupid amounts of torque.
The N.H.R.A. street legal drag program is actually anything but stupid. It gives people a place to run their street cars fast and furious in a safe and sanctioned environment. You and your high school buddies have an ongoing beef about which car is faster, your SRT-4 versus your friend's MazdaSpeed3? Head to the track. The B.S. stops when the tree lights drop. Losers go home while winners are rewarded with trophies and decals.
A typical Wednesday night at Sacramento Raceway will cost competitors $15 to run. After your car passes a pretty simple tech inspection (is your battery going to fall out on the racetrack?) then you line up for some timed runs. If you have never staged a car at a drag strip before and don't want to look like an ass-hat, read here for all the details.
As you blast down the quarter mile your completed elapsed time and mile per hour will be shown on a large lighted sign so everyone in the stands can see that your claim of a 12 second pass didn't come to fruition. So get your excuses ready. Here is a short list you can refer to: 1. There's no traction because of all of my horsepower. 2. My clutch is slipping from all of my horsepower. 3. I need to take out the back seat too.
After your run, you will drive SLOWLY on the return road and pick up your timing slip. Here is where reality sets in… your car isn't as fast as you think.
But, remember this is bracket racing, you don't have to be fast to win. To prove my point I drove (beat the hell out of) my rental car and went up against Pontiac G8s, Corvette Z06s and my toughest competitor, a Lincoln Town Car, as I made my way through the single elimination brackets. So who took home the glory?
Krider Racing in the rent-a-racer, of course. C'mon, I wouldn't have posted this if I lost!