“First Time Drag Racing Spectator”
So you’ve decided to head down to the Perth Motorplex in Kwinana and watch your very first drag race, and wow what an event to choose. The inaugural Race for a Cause – Charity Challenge between Therapy on Wheels and Beat the Heat WA is going to be epic, and with the event also boasting the Blown Alcohol Allstars along with the usual full line-up of cars and bikes from all the categories, you won’t be disappointed.
But as your first time, what do you need to know? What do you bring? Where are you allowed to go? What time should you be there? … so many questions, so you don’t look like a newbie and you’re sure not to miss out on anything.
Where is the event, and how do I get there?
Drag Racing is held at the Perth Motorplex – Anketell Road, Kwinana. There is plenty of parking onsite (both free and VIP), but it is a very large facility so there will be some walking involved.
What time should I be there?
While all the advertising boasts that the feature event starts at 5.30pm there is plenty of racing from 11am. But this can be a very long day for the uninitiated. To make sure you don’t miss out on the first elimination races, and you avoid the crowds we suggest you turn up around 3pm. (This will also give you plenty of time to wander around and meet the drivers before they start getting too serious)
NOTE: If you arrive before 4pm you will need to enter through the Competitor & 3A Carpark Gate.
The schedule is attached with our races highlighted. You may see us out for 1 or 2 of the super sedan practice runs before the big race, but be sure to get through the gates before the full competition racing starts. [Click the image for full size]
Can I bring the kids?
Yes you can, in fact this event is allowing kids under 12 in FREE with every adult ticket. But be aware that really little kids may not like the loud noises. Please make sure everyone has ear protection.
What should I bring?
Keep in mind that there’s a lot of walking, so if you do bring chairs, esky etc then a fold up trolly will come in handy.
Chairs or cushion: The grass area is lovely to sit on, but after a full day you may find that a cushion, blanket or folding chair will be more comfortable.
Food & Drink: There’s a wide variety of food vans available (including a bar) and plenty of water refill stations. But you can bring your own. Please note that alcohol is NOT allowed, neither is glass or knives. These will be confiscated on entry.
Weather Protection: Saturday isn’t expected to be hot, but there are some shady locations throughout the stands. Bring a hat and sunscreen. (Sorry, no umbrellas or structures.)
When the sun goes down the temperature does drop significantly, so if you’re there all day/night, bring some warm clothing. (I’ve been known to wear shorts during the day and a beanie and scarf at night)
Comfy Shoes: you can walk everywhere, so make sure you’re comfortable.
Ears & eyes: It’s bright and it’s loud. Please arrange for ear protection. You can purchase ears and earplugs onsite, but it’s best to come prepared. If you have kids coming, please explain the importance. Some cars may not appear loud, but the loud ones are REALLY loud and not just on the track.
Camera / Phone: don’t forget your camera and some extra charge.
Where am I allowed to sit? Can I wander around?
Depending on how “in the action” you want to be will depend on where you choose to sit. A silver ticket will allow you to sit anywhere in the stands (except in the chairs). Come in, setup your space and then you are free to wander around the complex. Come down to the pits area and see all the cars up close, chat to the drivers and crew, see engines being rebuilt between rounds, and there’s even lots of merchandise available.
Have your race schedule handy so you know when to head back up to the stands so as not to miss your chosen racers.
Look but Don’t Touch
Please respect the belongings of the racers and other spectators.
Where are you?
Beat the Heat WA and Therapy on Wheels will be right at the bottom of the ramp, adjacent to the first aid block.
Can I talk to the racers?
While the racers do make every effort to answer questions and have photos taken and sign autographs there will be times when they need to focus on preparing for the upcoming race. Use your discretion when wandering around the pits. If they look busy, just stand back out of the way and watch or take photos.
There is a track downtime around 4/5pm when many of the racers will stop for some dinner before racing gets serious.
Safety is paramount!!!
Watch where you are walking, and keep an eye on the kids. Many of these cars have limited visibility, and there are a lot of highly volatile fuels around and cables that can trip you up. If you need to look at your phone – please step aside to a safe area.
Also please take note of signs specifying no entry areas (such as the track, staging lanes, officials box)
Understanding the Race
Don’t want to look like a newbie when you’re watching us race? Then here’s a couple of tips to help you understand what’s happening on track.
Why do they do a burnout?
Most of the cars have smooth (slick) tyres, and the track – while it looks shiny – is actually very sticky.
The tyres need to be warmed up so they stick better to the track. If you’re trying your luck on a “Whoopass Wednesday”, this doesn’t work on normal street tyres.
Why did one car leave before the other?
Our racing format is called “Dial Your Own”, which is a handicap style of racing allowing different speeds of vehicles to race each other fairly. During the competition rounds you will notice that each car has a time (eg: 9.51) written on the window. This is the estimated time (ET) they expect to do the quarter mile in. The car who has the fastest time (ET) on the window will be held back on the start line to allow the slower car a head start. After that it’s about who gets to the finish line first. But …
… the faster car just lost?
There is a rule, first or worst. If the car leaves too early they will “red light”. Automatic loss.
If they go outside their lane – Automatic loss.
If they go quicker than their time on the window – Automatic loss – unless the other car red lit, or also went quicker but by more.
What is a reaction time and a holeshot?
The time it takes for the car to get from the start line to the finish line includes how long it takes for the driver to react to the green light. Races have been won purely on one driver being quicker off the start – known as a holeshot. Too quick and the driver will “red light”, too slow and their opponent could win the race … it comes down to 1000’s of a second.
Why do only some cars have a parachute?
The parachute is a rule requirement depending on the speed of the car. You’ll notice some of the group 1 cars actually have 2 parachutes to help them slow at the top of the track.
What is a Christmas Tree?
The lights in the middle of the lanes is called a Christmas Tree.
The top two rows are for staging. This is when the vehicle lines up on the start line. It’s done in two stages, making sure both lanes are correctly lined up before the countdown starts.
The orange lights are the countdown (Heads Up racers will see these flash together once)
The green light is the go light … but racers will actually start to leave the line before the green light has lit up. Watch closely and you will start to see cars lifting in anticipation of the green. (Hence the name of my book – Don’t wait for the green light)
The red light will appear if a) there is no-one racing in that lane or b) the driver left before the green light.
Flashing lights will appear if there is an issue on the track and no-one is allowed to race.
Qualifying, Winners and …
During the qualifying rounds, all racing is “heads up”. The racers are just “getting their eye in”, checking their car, checking the track and weather conditions.
When racing starts there’s 2 kinds of competition. Elimination means that the winner goes through to the next round and the loser gets to sit in the stands and watch. (In my case it’s my chance to shout my team a well earned drink.)
We will be racing “Chicago Shootout” style. This means we compete every race and the most wins at the end is declared the winner. The Charity Challenge is a best of 5.
Accidents do happen 🙁
Unfortunately this is a risky sport, and accidents do happen. Please show respect and allow the safety crew to follow their processes. And keep in mind that you may be sitting near a racer or family member who knows that person on track.
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This is just a small introduction to what will be a very full event, and we really hope it’s just the beginning for you. Enjoy and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you see a crew member in the crowd and you’re not sure what’s happening on track, just ask. We’re pretty approachable and always happy to share more understanding about our sport.