VOLUME XXI, NUMBER 5 - MAY, 2019
DRAGRACINGOnline will be published on or around the 8th of each month and will be updated throughout the month.
DRAGRACINGOnline owes allegiance to no sanctioning body and will call 'em as we see 'em. We strive for truth,integrity, irreverence and the betterment of drag racing. We have no agenda other than providing the drag racing public with unbiased information and view points they can't get in any other drag racing publication.
Editor & Publisher, CEO Jeff Burk
Managing Editor, COO Kay Burk
Editor at Large, Bret Kepner
Editor at Large, Emeritus Chris Martin
Bracket Racing Editor, Jok Nicholson
Motorcycle Editor, Tom McCarthy
Nostalgia Editor, Brian Losness
Contributing Writers, Jim Baker, Steven Bunker, Aaron Polburn, Matt Strong
European Correspondent, Ivan Sansom
Poet Laureate, Bob Fisher
Cartoonists, Jeff DeGrandis, Kenny Youngblood
Senior Photographer - Ron Lewis
Contributing Photographers - Aaron Anderson, Scott Bessee, Donna Bistran, Steven Bunker, Pam Conrad, Adam Cranmer, James Drew, Don Eckert, Steve Embling, Jamie Shores Fraijo, Mike Garland, Joel Gelfand, Steve Gruenwald, Chris Haverly, Rose Hughes, Bob Johnson, Bret Kepner, "Bad" Brad Klaassen, Jon LeMoine, Eddie Maloney, Tim Marshall, Matt Mothershed, Richard Muir, Joe McHugh, Dennis Mothershed, Ivan Sansom, Paul Schmitz, Dave Stoltz,
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Director: Casey Araiza
Director: Dave Ferrato
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Editor & Publisher
CEO Jeff Burk
COO Kay Burk
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Director: Casey Araiza
Director: Dave Ferrato
Contact: Casey Araiza
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ET DRAG RACING
Story and photos by Tom McCarthy
Today there roams the world a new breed of racing surface technicians, traction experts really, who are in high demand. They are significantly impacting the sport of drag racing at most every level. Traction in drag racing is like ice to ice-fishing: you simply can’t do one without the other.
Traction leads to action in drag racing; it’s importance can’t be overstated.
In a sport where quickness wins races, the ability of a race car to go from a standing-still start, then accelerate like a Saturn rocket off a launch pad blasting from zero to 200 MPH in about 3.5 seconds, is just astounding to see and hear. In drag racing, it’s the visual impact coupled with the auditory assault on the senses that makes it a heart-pounding spectator sport. But without traction, everything goes up in smoke very quickly.
A very wise drag racer once stated, “I don’t care how much power you have, it only matters if you can put it to work.” An inescapable truth resides at the heart of the matter: racers can only go as quick as they can put the power to the pavement. In 2019 traction rules the action now more than ever.
When the NHRA was struggling to slow down the fuel cars from going over 330 MPH, they tried all manner of rulings to impede power production. No matter what the NHRA did, the racers found a way to go faster and quicker. That is until the NHRA finally realized they had the answer all along in their track surface preparations. If the cars can’t grab the race track, they can’t go too fast. So, the NHRA adjusted its track prep to slow down the big 10,000 horsepower fuel cars.
In drag racing traction is the key to unlocking higher performance. Remember, power only matters if you can put it to work.
But this begs the question, what if you took the locks off and created a racing surface so tight, so sticky that that cars and teams could unleash their full fury? If racers had a racing surface with the ultimate grip, how quick and fast could they go?
While the NHRA chose to back off on track prep to prevent the fuel cars from going too fast too quickly, this gave rise to a new era in drag racing, beginning the radial tire wars. As the NHRA shied away from too much track-bite, others embraced it, developing new techniques in race track preparation. These events spurred the growth of radial tire racing. From the confluence of this sprang the Sultans of Stick: the men who use art and science to create racing surfaces with so much adhesion, it’s nearly impossible to spin a tire on the racing surface. These men have become game changers in drag racing.
This is Mark Woodruff’s car under full power laying down a 3.77 @ 212.16-MPH pass at the Sweet 16. Look closely at his tire tracks. The silver dash marks you see behind his car are his tire tread imprints in the sticky racing surface. To do this there is NO tire slippage at all, just a radial tire perfectly stuck to the racing surface.
Today cars can be glued to the track surface so that “zero wheel spin” is present. While tune-up artists call it wheel spin, it’s really zero tire rotational slippage on the track surface. If conditions and preparations are correct, the Sultans of Stick can create a racing surface no tire will spin freely on. In 2019, these men are sought after by race tracks all over the world. From Qatar to Puerto Rico and back on down to good old Cecil, Georgia, these Czars of traction are in very high demand.
Primary traction preparations during this time frame came from track dragging and spraying, which was the basic methodology at the time. Most modern racing facilities owned a tire-dragger: a machine that drags used drag slick segments behind a big tractor and with pressure applied to the tire segments while dragging them, they deposit rubber onto racing surfaces wherever applied.
How dragger treads are made.
The old gunky track surface has to come up.
Traction meter surface analyzers have been around a while now and basically they are a device with a rubber foot pad that is spring-loaded and when applied to a racing surface, a racing crew member puts the traction meter to work, applies a torque wrench to it, often measuring increments with inch/pounds readings and the device will yield a reading taken at several different locations on the track. Common readings on major sanction prepared race tracks are often in the 280 to 300 range. They want a certain amount of slippage to their prep. But such is not the case for radial tire racing prep.
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