What Fine Points Can You See at a Live Drag Race?
By Doug Dornbos
Many people have been talking about the super slo-mo camera on the ESPN coverage of NHRA Houston. This brings to mind the question about what you can see at a live race. I have actually sat with people who never noticed that the tires get bigger on the burnout! One thing that I just CANNOT see live is tire shake. All my buddies just think it is too funny for words. A racer shuts off early due to excessive shake, my friends turn around and say, "Now for SURE you saw it that time, right?" EVERY STINKING TIME I have to say, "Nope, missed it that time, too". It's just something I don't see.
I also go to the track with one guy who always sees a different color coming off the slicks, like a halo. I don't see it. One thing I do see without actually looking for it is frame flex in a dragster. Whenever I ask the guys I'm with, "Did you notice the frame flex?" they usually did not. Also, I see cylinders out quite easy and see green flame in the daytime even sooner than my friends.
Recently at a Land Speed Racing event I stood with a guy who was just absolutely AMAZING at how close he could estimate someone's speed and it was his first time there. All day long he would say something like, "I'd say 128," and then the announcer would come on the PA system with something like "129.4." I asked him, "How do you do that?" and he really didn't know. He was pretty accurate anywhere from 80 to 200 mph.
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