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Drag racers reach 380kmh
By JEFF LILLY
Hell bent: Two competitors at the South Island Drag Racing champs, Ruapuna Raceway.
CONTINUED Page 15
A drag racing meeting at Ruapuna tomorrow
may be interesting for many.
The Pegasus Bay Drag Racing Club has been
drag racing on the back straight of the
Powerbuilt Raceway circuit track at Ruapuna
Park in Christchurch for the past 43 years.
It gets one race date per month and the
summer race season goes from late October to
April each year.
''We are in New Zealand's less-populated
South Island, and in any year, licensed comp
racers tend to be around the two dozen mark
for the whole island, so we rely on racers from
the North Island, and on street cars to make
up our racer numbers,'' says manager Todd
''We race the full quarter-mile and our track
records are in the 5.90s at around 240 mph
''As we traditionally do, we started the
season with the running of the Kevin McInroe
Memorial Challenge,'' said Stevenson.
''Kevin McInroe was a popular racer who
unfortunately died in a track accident 15 years
ago while racing his 1938 Chev Coupe. Since
then, each year the club has run a hot rods
and muscle cars meeting in his honour,
although over the years, hot rods are seen less
and less at the track.''
So what is drag racing exactly?
Drag racing is a competition in which
specially prepared automobiles or motorcycles
compete, usually two at a time, to be first to
cross a set finish line.
The race follows a straight course from a
standing start over a measured distance, most
commonly 1G4 mile, with a shorter 1,000 ft (300
metres) for some Top Fuel dragsters and funny
cars, while 660 ft (200 metres) is also popular
in some circles. Electronic timing and speed
sensing systems have been used to record
race results since the 1960s. The faster vehicles
need a parachute to slow down.
Before each race (also known as a pass),
each driver is allowed to perform a burnout,
which heats the driving tires and lays rubber
down at the beginning of the track, improving
traction. Each driver then lines up (or stages)
at the starting line.
Races are started electronically by a system
known as a Christmas tree.
The Christmas tree consists of a column of
six lights for each driver/lane, one blue, then
three amber, one green, and one red,
connected to light beams on the track. Once
the first competitor trips the staged beam, the
tree is automatically activated, and the
opponent will have up to seven seconds to
stage or a red light and automatic timed-out
disqualification occurs instantly.
The winner is the first vehicle to cross the
finish line (and therefore the driver with the
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