1. Remember some tracks do not allow burnouts on street tires. If they do don't start your burnout until directed by an official. He'll usually give you some sort of hand signal. Also make sure you are all the way on the track and facing directly forwards.
2. Don't do burnouts in the water with treaded street tires. Water gets into the treads and tracks all the way to the starting line. This makes the drivers with slicks very angry. It won't help you're 1/4 mile times either.
3. Don't do a John Force-style burnout (i.e. spinning the tires through and past the starting line, forcing you to back up) unless you don't have any front brakes and/or you are John Force.
4. If you are bracket racing, don't lock up your brakes at the end of the track in an attempt to not "break out". Locking 'em up at this speed could be very dangerous. This isn't an issue for test-n-tune nights, but be sure you leave plenty of room to brake at the end of the track without doing a massive ABS stop.
5. Some tracks employ a courtesy rule. This means that the first car into the staging beams should light only the pre-stage light. When the second car is is pre-staged, then either of you can move up slightly into the staging lights.
6. Make sure your numbers and dial-in (if applicable) are visible from the tower.
7. Make sure you get in the right staging lane, and make sure that you don't attempt to run in a class where your car would not be appropriate (e.g. you probably shouldn't end up racing a junior dragster in your Impala). Ask if you are unsure.
More Tricks And Tips
Some of these tips are best used by people who have been to the track a couple time and know what they are doing. If it's your first time, just take a look around and see what the other people are doing. I guarantee you'll see some of the stuff below. After you're comfortable with the track, and know the etiquette rules, feel free to try some of the following suggestions to be a faster racer.
If you have an automatic you may want to preload the drivetrain 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 send the tires up, and that kills your ET. Remember that all of that built up energy gets transfered to the tires: pick an RPM where you won't bog and where you won't obliterate the tires.
Heat is your enemy: the hotter your engine is, the slower you will be. Try not to idle the car any more that you have to. Keep the hood open until you are ready to run.
To really keep the intake cool, take along a cooler and bag of ice. Wrap the ice in a wad of towels and place it on top of your intake (this is where you thank yourself for removing home plate!). This will keep the intake very cold, and give you a nice boost of power. Be sure to get the ice back in the cooler before you get on the track surface, and keep the water drippings out of the Optispark and plug wires!
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 dragstrips 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.
Half of the battle at the drag strip is winning the launch. If you can get a good, solid launch without spinning the tires, you've almost won the race. The positraction unit in the Impala goes a long way to helping this: it distributes torque to both wheels. Make sure that you have the proper amount of additive in it and that both wheels are getting torque. Also, some people use an airbag in one of the springs to combat the natural tendency of the drivetrain force to attempt to "roll" the car over on its side: the airbag keeps the entire car level and prevents the weight transfer to one wheel only.
Driver Checklist For The Day
2. 1/2 tank (possibly less) of gas
3. Pen (to fill out your tech card)
4. White shoe polish, paper towels, and windex (if you need to change dial in's)
5. Proper clothes for the days weather. Cooler at night. NHRA rules say no shorts or tank tops. Bring long pants.
7. Helmet (required by NHRA rules if your car runs 13.99 or quicker)
9. Bug repellant
10. Fold up chairs
11. Ice chest (glass is a no-no) __________________