My Drag Racing Experiences

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My Drag Racing Experiences

Postby WFox93 » Tue Apr 11, 2017 4:14 am

So the race track near me (Gateway Motorsports Park) over in Madison, IL does what they call "Midnight Madness" once or twice a month. Basically what it is, is an event where anybody can turn up in any street legal vehicle (some not street legal but they make you drive it in) pay 25 dollars and you can drag race all night long from 6 or 7 at night til 2 in the morning. No specific track prep is required just proper safety equipment.

Being that its so cheap I decided to go even though drag racing isn't particularly my thing (on bikes that is). Any here is my experience with it.

First off, Very very fun. Though I was by myself so it got boring after 4 or 5 passes both times I've gone. Definitely need to bring friends next time.

The first time I went out (over all not the one run), my best time posted was a 13.2 second 1/4 mile at 111mph. And I wasn't very consistent.
My take-aways were to work on my launch and if doing a burnout I need to heat up my full tire (rocking the bike). a caught the cold edge of my tire once and slipped a little.

The Second time out to the track I got a better time. My new time to beat is a 12.8 1/4 at 115mph. I found that not doing a burnout and launching at a lower RPM is the best option for me until I can get my shifting right. I am using the clutch but my shift points are all of the place. I keep missing second gear (such a long throw for that shift and I keep hitting neutral) and I either shift too soon or I'm bouncing off the rev limiter.

I also learned that I shouldn't even think about launching at anything over 4,500 RPM unless I do a burnout. I did that once, that rear tire lit up so fast and the bike almost dumped me right on the starting line.

Something I noticed is that both time I went out, by the 4th pass (about 15 to 45 minutes between passes) I'd get about half way down the track and the engine would bog hard like the carbs weren't getting enough air. At first I though it was because it was too cold (I kept my fan on while idling in the staging lanes) so I left the fan off and let it warm up before the next pass and I got the same result. Could the Carbs be loading up with fuel since I'm going full throttle for a mile a quarter mile at a time?

All in all it was a fun experience and I think I'll make a habit of going out. I'd like to try the road course sometime at the same park but that is a steep financial investment I'm not fully ready to commit to yet.

Have any of you drag raced your Cat, what are your thoughts? and any tips to offer someone just trying to have a little bit of fun on the drag strip?
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Re: My Drag Racing Experiences

Postby woodsy » Tue Apr 11, 2017 7:44 pm

Hey. Yea I was thinking the same thing. There is a small track down from our house. My husband has the meanest cbr f2 ever to wear a Honda badge. I already have a 49, 14 520 conv. I'm really into the bottom end. Anyone can go 180mph on a bike, but can u bet that u will beat me to 180mph.

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Re: My Drag Racing Experiences

Postby Pepperoni » Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:54 pm

Cool! Have fun.

No, bikes don't flood from running wide-open, they flood from having incorrect carburetor float heights (which controls how much fuel flows into the carbs. Or, the opposite: the float height is inhibiting fuel flow so your bike is starving for fuel--which is probably more likely. Is it possible that you're running it up to the rev limiter without realizing it? That's easy to do in the heat of the moment. Also, yes, make sure the engine is warmed up to at least 60 on the coolant temp gauge (no need for higher) but whether or not the engine was cold, that wouldn't cause the problem you're having. (Or am I wrong on this, YZF'ers?)

A few notes (of course):

I ran the Wednesday Night Drags (run-what-you-brung, elmination bracket racing (lose the heat? you're done for the night--it can make for a very short night...) on a full-on NHRA drag strip) at Sears Point (formerly knows as Infineon Raceway, now known as Sonoma Raceway) back around 2001. The first night, I took 2nd! So, I decided to keep going until I won The Big Plastic Trophy. Took a total of 6 tries and it was very satisfying because the night I won, there were 27 bikes (and yes, I did it on my '98 YZF).

And then I retired!

Seriously--after that first time, because I came so close, I *just* wanted that trophy and that was enough.

1) Burnouts help BUT you will drastically shorten tire life if you keep racing. Just something to be aware of.

2) If the back end breaks loose on launch (regardless of temp or burnout), it's not a lack of grip, it's releasing the clutch too fast and possibly combined with rolling on the throttle too soon. You're right--it's a delicate balance of launch RPM, clutch engagement and rolling on the throttle. But launching somewhere around 6-7,000 rpm, with a smooth, but quick clutch release (not popping it!) and faster throttle roll on is what you're looking for.

2a) If the front comes up a few inches, you've pretty much nailed it, just don't panic and back off. Peak power is around 11,500, so don't shift until then. I think (it's been a long time) that I got a faster E.T. *not* shifting into 5th at the end of the run, but I'm not sure about that. Just don't roll off the throttle until AFTER you've gone past the timing lights.

2a1) Clutchless upshifts are faster, so if you aren't good at this technique, practice it on the street so you'll be able to do it at the track.

2b) Also: KEEP YOUR LEFT FOOT ON THE PEG WHEN YOU LAUNCH because you'll need to catch 2nd gear pretty quickly. You aren't racing a pro-stock bike, you don't need to leave your feet hanging down, you don't have an air-shifter button on the bars, just basic riding technique.

3) Do NOT get "fancy" and use tie-down straps on the front end unless you purchase actual drag racing tie-down straps AND the fork-mounted brackets they attach to. No matter how tight you think you've made regular tie-downs, they'll come loose and that could be disastrous (like getting caught in the chain and tire somewhere in your run).

4) If you do want to get a *little* fancy, increase front tire pressure to max (40 psi? higher? I'm not sure what it is, just don't exceed it) for less rolling resistance, lower rear pressure to about 30-32 for more grip (larger footprint on the ground), and you can even lower the front end to make it less wheelie-prone (I once stood it up about 60-degrees off the line--not good for E.T.), but don't drop it more than 1" or you could cause interference with the radiator on a rough road/big bump (Very Bad). You could also drop the final gearing but then you're stuck with whatever you use when you're riding on the street (higher RPMs all the time, lower fuel mileage).

5) Always get and keep all of your timing slips so you can track your progress. There's a lot more to a good run than just the ET and terminal speed--launch time, 60' time, etc.

5a) WEAR EARPLUGS! Seriously.

6) At the starting line, don't look at your opponent. No, not an intimidation tactic, it's just that it totally doesn't matter what they are doing. And don't worry about their timing lights, just concentrate on your own.

7) Most of all: have fun.

Bonus note: don't race cars--those guys have no skill and might mow you down in their incompetence. (see: Mustangs and "Cars and Coffee" videos...)
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Re: My Drag Racing Experiences

Postby WFox93 » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:22 am

Wow, that's some awesome information thank you! I'll be sure to come back and read this over before I go out next time. I won't be going often with the whole tire life thing.

to your last point about cars. I couldn't agree with you more. It's scary enough Drag racing on a bike, even scarier doing so against a car where you don't know how competent the driver is. Luckily at this little event they try to keep bikes together and the guys racing cars don't mind if you skip the line to be with other motorcycles. Sometimes there'll even be a few guys with bike in the pit area waiting for solo bikers to run with.
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Re: My Drag Racing Experiences

Postby Pepperoni » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:07 am

That's odd that they don't just group all of the motorcycles together for that reason.

Also, is this bracket racing? Where you are competing against a time that you set before each run (and don't exceed) with reaction times as a tie breaker (which almost never happens)?
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Re: My Drag Racing Experiences

Postby WFox93 » Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:50 am

This is pretty much for all intents and purpose, legal street racing that happens on the track. You turn up, pay 25 bucks, roll into the tech line where they do a quick once over of your vehicle and your gear, then you hop into one of 4 staging lanes, those four narrow to 2 with the help of marshals and whoever you're next to by the time you get to the tree that's who you race. No Prizes, No Actual Competition, however the timing is fully activated and you get the little slip of paper. Some people have wagers on the side but that's frowned upon and it'll get you booted. They do allow you to set up "grudge matches" though. So you can tell the marshals that you and the person behind you are wanting to race each other and they will do their best to make that happen.

Makes for some interesting racing when you don't know who you're up against and pretty funny to watch sometimes, I've seen big diesel trucks racing against Ferrari, Stock economy cars against cars that are just shy of being an NHRA Pro Mod car and everything in between. Little side note they also have a drift pit setup where you can drift whatever car you bring too.

This was put together first by the the local state patrol, but was closed for a while after the track lost funding or something. then someone bought the track and teamed up with the national guard to start it back up. The idea I think is to help alleviate the crazy street racing issue we have around here. For a while, every week there were reports of quite a few people dying either in crashes or in altercations due to illegal street racing.
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Re: My Drag Racing Experiences

Postby Pepperoni » Sat Apr 15, 2017 2:58 am

Okay, so, how does the diesel truck compete against the Ferrari?

For example, with bracket racing:

The truck says I'll run a 14.2 1/4. The Ferrari says 10.3. At the end of the run, the truck ran 14.4 and the Ferrari ran a 10.4. Ferrari loses. Why? 'cuz the truck was closest without going under their target time. This way, anybody (well, car v. car, bike v. bike) can race anybody, both start at the starting line (none of that "I'll give you two car lengths crap") and no sandbagging shit, either. If, say, the truck had run 14.1, it would have been disqualified for being under the stated 14.2.
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Re: My Drag Racing Experiences

Postby MadYZF » Sat Apr 15, 2017 4:57 am

Great post!
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Re: My Drag Racing Experiences

Postby WFox93 » Sat Apr 15, 2017 9:15 am

Pepperoni wrote:Okay, so, how does the diesel truck compete against the Ferrari?


The way you explained that is actually really really neat and I wish they did that way there. Unfortunately though, there really is no competition. It's you vs. the clock. And there happens to be someone else there.
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