How does the Timing System Work?
Understanding the timing system is very important when trying to perform at your absolute best. This topic will cover the christmas tree, reaction times, elapsed times, 60-foot, 330-foot, 1/8 mile, 1000-foot, and 1/4 mile timing components.
The Christmas Tree
The christmas tree the is light fixture that controls the start of the race. It has a number of bulbs that will light up to indicate different things. The top bulb is the "Pre-Stage" bulb and the bulb underneath that is the "Staged" bulb. These bulbs indicate where you are on the starting line before the race begins. In order for the race to begin, the "Staged" bulb must be lit up. The next 3 amber lights are the starting system bulbs. Below that are a green light and a red light that indicate whether you have left on time or if you have left too early. Leaving too early results in a red light and an automatic disqualification.
Staging Beams and Reaction Times
The staging beams indicate the starting line. When you break the pre-staged or staged beams, the corresponding bulb on the tree will light up. The pre-stage beam is just to let you know that you are getting close to the starting line, and is located 6 inches behind the staged beam. The staged beam is the official starting line and must be in contact with part of your tire in order to begin a race.
Your reaction time is the time it takes your car to leave the starting line after the green light has come on. Leaving the starting line means that your tire is no longer in contact with the stage beam. If you leave before the green light comes on, the red light will light up and you will be disqualified. Your elapsed time is how long it takes you to cross the finish line. This timer starts after you have left the starting line.
It is important to understand that the reaction time and elapsed times measure two different things, and do not overlap. The reaction time is only the time it takes for your car to leave the starting line after the green light comes on. The elapsed time begins when you have left the starting line and ends when you cross the finish line. Therefore, your total time is your reaction time plus your elapsed time.
You may have noticed orange boxes at seemingly random spots on the track in-between the two lanes. These are the timers used to measure your elapsed time and are located at the 60-foot, 330-foot, 1/8 mile, 1000-foot, and 1/4 mile locations. The intervals can be used when tuning to see where your car is slower and where the car is fast, in order to measure your performance. Each indicator has a beam that stretches the width of the track. Once your car breaks that beam, your time is recorded, and you will see it on your time slip .