Hello to All,
Roger Stockton wrote:
>I am a bit confused by John's explanation of 'heads-up' racing though:
>if I understand him correctly it makes no difference who is the first to
>cross the finish line, nor if one lane red lights; the winner is whoever
>has the best ET?
Actually, that's essentially it.
As I said before, it's of course much better to see both cars leave the
line together, and that's exactly what both drivers try their best to
do. Unless there is a large discrepancy in the reaction time, the car
with the best ET is also the one that crosses the finish line first. In
heads up racing, as opposed to bracket racing, there is no
handicap...that staggered computer controlled head start thing to help
make it fair for the car everyone knows in advance, is the slowest
machine (the expected ET is already written on the side glass for all to
see). In heads up, the cars are sent on their way at the same time, just
as it was in the days of illegal street racing, and the quickest car
always wins...the way it should be. Unlike bracket racing where everyone
knows what the dial-ins are of both cars before they even race each
other, in heads up you watch in anticipation and have to wait to the end
of the run to see which 'car' was quicker (who won). In bracket racing,
you can actually have the slower car and win...boring! For me, bracket
racing is like socialized racing where the playing field is
intentionally leveled so that slower cars can have a chance at winning.
>What's "heads up" about the race if it
>makes no difference if the racer leaves the line before or well after
>the green light?
Again, no one intentionally does this. I can assure you, that when the
Zombie pulls up next to a macho Vette, the guy's certainly not wanting
to just sit there and let a little bat-tree powered Dat-sun get off the
blocks before he does. I know of no one in these Friday and Saturday
night late night drags who wants to be seen sitting at the light while
the other guy takes off. The point is though, that in heads up racing,
most everyone is trying to see how much better they can get their ETs
to....exactly what we need to show the world the performance potential
of EVs! It's all about getting the quickest ET possible. Bracket racing
is about the 'driver' winning...heads up is all about the best 'vehicle'
acceleration possible...which one is best for advancing the performance
image of an EV previously thought to be s-l-o-w, dull and boring?
Try this....in bracket racing, you can take a dog-slow 4500 lb. 96V EV
to the track and against a much quicker gas car 'win' the race. You
will, however, lose the battle over winning the hearts of car fans.
Instead, they'll all be laughing at the EV that has to have a 10 second
head start (to even the playing field) while they'll cheer on the gas
car that has to use its raw power to catch up and try to overtake the
EV. In a heads up race, the electric has to have the same raw power and
has to demonstrate it's better with a lower ET at the end of the
run...this is the opposite effect and it wins race fans' hearts instantly!
>I thought the big difference between bracket and heads-up racing is that
>the winner in bracket racing is the racer who is most consistent (i.e.
>runs the closest to their dial-in without going quicker (breaking out)
>than it) while heads-up is all about who gets to the end of the track
You have the last part backwards. In bracket racing, if everything goes
as planned (no red light, no break-out), it is indeed, the car that
crosses the finish line first, that wins. The whole contest, after the
leveling of the playing field staggered start thing, is to not red
light, stay within your dial-in, and still get across the finish line
before the other guy. It's fun, but it does little to advance the image
of electric performance.
>Brackets may emphasise the
>consistency of a vehicle's (and driver's) performance while heads-up
>racing emphasises the absolute performance (speed/ET), however, in both
>cases a skilled driver is going to make the difference between a win or
To an extent, you are right. But, it's still more about the driver in
bracket racing over the car, and it's still about the car over the
driver in heads up. Yes, in both cases, it's best to have a good driver
rather than one who isn't...that's kind of a no-brainer.
Roger, I spend I lot more time at the strip than you do, so I doubt you
hear all that Tim and I have heard over the years. In heads up racing,
after a run where a car's ET is impressive, everyone is talking about
the launch, the hole shot, the acceleration, the ET, the trap speed, and
most importantly, the car! They all come to see the car afterwards,
whether it's an electric, or a turboed ricer, or a classic V8. Pretty
much no one is talking about the driver, or the strategy used to beat
the other guy, or the purposeful hitting of the brakes at the far end to
keep from braking out, or the stealth paint job designed to make it hard
for the other guy to see where the nose of the car really is....there's
none of that posturing going on. Instead, it's all about the motor, the
gears, the tires, the fuel supply, the torque, etc. As I said, it's all
about the car, this is what we want the public to remember...the EV!
Wednesday night, as it always is in bracket racing, we heard the
complete opposite after runs were made. We heard things among the other
bracketeers, like 'man, you really psyched that guy out...you
sand-bagged him...your reaction time was awesome...you fooled him at the
end...you intimidated him...you're so skillful...etc., etc. It's a
completely different take, and the focus is all about the driver, his
reputation as a skilled competitor, what races he'd won, etc. The guy
pitted right next to us had a 10 second trailered-in 1/4 mile car that
was running low 6 second 1/8 mile ETs. Of those who came by to talk with
the driver, barely a word was said about his car...why would there be?
Though powerful, it was the same old gasser thing that dozens of others
also had at the track that night. The car was nothing special at all.
Instead, they all came by to congratulate 'the driver' for his win over
the other guy, they talked about his staging strategy, they talked about
his percentage in his dial-in, and they talked about 'his' reaction
time....it was all about the driver, very little about the car.
> I think it's a fairly safe bet that one could not replace either
>Tim or Dennis with a driver picked at random from the crowd and get the
>same sort of performance from the vehicle.
On this, we agree. You've got to have a competent driver who knows the
car, knows how to keep it under control, and knows how to exploit the
best of it and how to avoid the worst of it.
Roger, a suggestion...take some time and go to your local drag strip
over a few months. Go to bracket racing events, and go to heads up
events. I think you'll do a 180 from your current position once you see
for yourself, the completely different culture of the two. I've done a
lot of both styles over the many years I've drag raced, believe me, and
the difference between the two is HUGE.
Back when cars and their power plants were still being developed and hot
rodding was in its formative years, heads up was the 'only' racing
style...may the best 'car' win. People bragged about their 'Hemi' or
their 'Super charged small block', and there was devout brand
loyalty....it was all about the cars! As cars improved and the after
market hotrod scene evolved, pretty much all cars could be quick and
fast...just go out and buy the right go-fast stuff. The NHRA knew this
and instigated bracket racing to make it easier for the masses to be
racers....you suddenly didn't need to have the quickest car to win, but
you 'did' have to be good at driving to win...the focus shifted to the
drivers. Why not? The cars are all the same technology, the same old
thing...nothing special to get excited about.
If EVs were mainstream and there were all sorts of companies selling
go-fast EV parts, my desire to push heads up style racing would fade
back, because the mission would have been accomplished (EVs widely known
about, accepted, and mainstream for everyone to drive and enjoy). That
is far from the case today and EVs need to be showcased, not the racing
To quote Roger "Heads-up racing emphasizes the absolute performance
In conjunction with the efforts of many pushing advanced batteries and
specifically extending the range per charge of the EV, this is exactly
what we need to keep doing until everybody gets it!
See Ya.......John Wayland
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