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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Chrondek Timers

By Jim Hill

Before the development and use of digital "clocks," drag racing speeds were provided in the round glass of the Chrondek timers. You read those "Speed Trap" numbers and then looked up the true mph off a printed "Speed Chart." The true mph corresponded with the reading on the speed clocks. Clock operators always had to relay this info, plus the ET and the car number/class, to the "Time Slip" worker in the "shack" at the finish line. When this was done the clock operator did a "re-set" on the clocks, accomplished by pulling down on the ET and MPH toggle switches on the face of the Chrondek timers for that lane. The other lane clock worker did likewise.

A typical set-up had an announcer, a couple of spotters who looked up the car class, number, driver info, etc., off the printed entry card, and fed that to the guy on the mike and the clock workers. Working the clocks at a national event, where there were 1,000+ cars entered (yep, NHRA used to regularly have 1,000+ car fields at the really big national races like the Nationals!) could get hectic, especially when they literally emptied out the staging lanes for Stock, Super Stock, and Street Eliminator. Pair after pair, another pair of cars leaving as soon as the previous pair cleared. Worst were the Comp Eliminator cars, especially the Comp dragsters. Very small numbers and class designations, hard to see and record accurately. Some were written on the tires, in white shoe polish! Back then there were no permanent numbers assigned to drivers.

I do miss those long, long lines of race cars.

Jim Hill


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