Originally written by Rob Cheek

 

In a modern car with a automatic, you usually don't gain anything shifting by hand. Let the computer do it for you. You may want to put it in "D" instead of "OD", but it probably won't make a difference. If you want the car to shift faster, get your PCM reprogrammed or buy a shift kit.

 

You may want to preload the drive train a little bit to remove some of the shock from the system and also get a bit of a quicker launch. This is done by "brake-torquing" the system: keeping you right foot firmly on the brake, depress the accelerator until your revs increase slightly. You don't want to do this too long, as your torque converter will overheat, nor to too high an RPM, as the engine will eventually overpower the brakes and move the car forward. Also, launching at too high an RPM will just spin the tires. Remember that all of that built up energy gets transferred to the tires. Try to pick an RPM where you won't bog and where you won't spin the tires.

 

Heat is your enemy: the hotter your engine is, the slower you will go. Try not to idle the car any more that you have to. Keep the hood open until you are ready to run.

 

Weight is your second enemy. Remove all unnecessary items from the car, and make sure that you're fuel tank has around a 1/4 tank or so (less and you'll miss as the fuel sloshes, more and you'll be slower than you have to be). In addition, some people remove the spare tire and jack at the track. If you want to get really wild, you can start taking off interior pieced, the front sway bar, washer fluid, floor mats, etc. Every little bit helps!

 

If you're looking for a quick ET (and don't care so much about winning the race), barely inch the car into the staging beams. Your time doesn't start until the wheels no longer block the beam. By staging this way, you get an extra couple of inches to accelerate before your time is recorded. Similarly, if you are interested in getting to the finish line first, go forward more. Beware that some drag strips are very strict about backing up if you go past` the staging lights.

 

If you are bracket racing, remember that consistency is the key, even if you are consistently slow. Make a mental note of everything about the car: launch RPM, lane choice, temperature, length of burnout, etc. You want all of these to remain constant for each run. Even if you are not bracket racing, mentally keeping track of all of these variables will help you get to a better time.

 

While stiff, lowered springs are great for handling on the street, they really hurt you at the drag strip. For maximum bite at launch, you want all of the car's weight to transfer to the rear wheels. Thus, you want nice, soft springs that allow the rear to "squat down" and take the weight.

 

 

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