Episode 1: The Six Things You Need to Know About Doing a Burnout


Welcome to “The Winner’s Circle: A Drag Racing Podcast”. I’m your host, Leroy Leese and I’m excited to share with you everything I’ve learned over the next, how ever many episodes we end up doing.

What I’d REALLY like to do is turn this into a way to reach out to the community to hear cool stories that people have from being at the track. It costs alot of money for us, even as bracket racers, to get out there and get on the track. Gas, rubber, engines, everything – its expensive. What we end up with at the end of the day is a time slip and good memories. So I’d love to hear about your different experiences. I’ve already heard interesting stories just talking to some buddies at the track about times when they were trailering to the race and the trailer became detached. Anything at all that is related to Drag Racing I want to hear these stories and get them included in the show. So starting from this podcast, episode 1, I’m reaching out – go to DragTracker.com/podcast and click on the “Voicemail” link on the right side of the screen and leave me a voicemail. You can make it brief but to the point – and then we can connect and figure out the best way to tell your story. You can also email me, podcast@dragtracker.com or leroy@dragtracker.com. I want to hear what you have experienced. I think everyone will really enjoy that. That’s one thing I want to highlight, your stories. The other thing is Q&A. If you have a question about something that you haven’t seen answered in forums, or maybe you have and you weren’t satisfied with the answer – bring it up here. I’ll be happy to research it or if I have any insight, I’ll be happy to share it. You know, there are a lot of great people in our drag racing community who are interested in getting to the bottom of things and sharing answers. They won’t be as interested in sharing it when they are in the lane across from you so let’s ask it. Lets find out, we’ll explore together!

I just want to say, “Thank You” so much for listening. This is something we are going to grow together, we’ll figure it out as we go.

Today’s episode is going to focus on, “The six things you need to know about doing a burnout”.

  1. The yellow line represents tire temperature.  It starts at roughly 60 degrees, goes up to 350 during the burnout and then comes back down to 80 when I am on the starting line The yellow line represents tire temperature. It starts at roughly 60 degrees, goes up to 350 during the burnout and then comes back down to 80 when I am on the starting line[/caption]A burnout is done to get the tires hot! – Myth! – I have an infrared temperature sensor and I have tracked the temperature of the surface of a tire during a burnout – it does go up. It does go up – it might get up to 160, 150 which is pretty hot – but it cools right down. And then at take off, depending on the ambient air temperature or track temperature or if the tire was sitting in the sun, it might be 95 or 125 degrees, but it really doesn’t change that much temperature wise as the run goes on. I just don’t believe it can be truly heating up the tires. In fact, I would submit that driving around the pits with a low pressured tire is going to heat them up more than the burnout will. So why do we do a burnout? To scrape off the outer layer of rubber. What that does then, is make the tars and oils inside the rubber come out to the surface. When its out at the surface, the tire is going to stick better. So that is more of a goal, to clean off any debris and take off a layer of rubber to reveal a clean, smooth, sticky surface for when you go racing.
  2. Dry hops – if you ever do a YouTube search for Bob Glidden doing a burnout in a Pro Stock from the 80’s and even the early 90’s – after doing a burnout they would back the car up and do a dry hop, which is outside the water box, they would let the clutch out and the car would jolt forward 10-15 ft. I’m not sure why they would do this – maybe it had something to do with making sure the clutch would fully engage, it may have been to clear out the engine. I’m pretty sure it would clear off anything on the tire. They probably didn’t have as clean of track back then, they weren’t as diligent about making it clean – maybe it was to clean off any debris picked up from the track from doing the burnout. But I’m sure what it did do is take off that layer of tar and oil. These days, you don’t see any Pro Stock cars do that, you don’t see very many cars at all doing that. As a bracket racer, I haven’t done a dry hop for any reason other than to check mechanical soundness of my car since the mid 90’s. You don’t see that very much any more. If you look at a YouTube video or archive video from NHRA or any racing, dry hops were something that every one did.
  3. No rocks in the water box! – Its kind of a common courtesy to clean off your tires before you get into the water box. There’s no sense in dragging up there cigarette butts and rocks or pop tops into the water box. These things are dangerous for slicks – rocks can puncture a tire. Unless your at a track where the staging lanes are directly behind the water box, generally, its a common courtesy to do a quick chirpy to clean off your tires to get rocks, dirt, sand, grass – anything that is on your slicks. I’ve raced at Knoxville Dragstrip and there is no area to clear off your tires. As soon as you turn the corner you are in the water box. No one really cleans their tires there. But when I raced at Mason Dixon in Maryland and even at Emerald Coast Dragway in Florida, there were places to clear off your tires and it was a courtesy – you were supposed to do that before you enter the waterbox. So that is something to keep in mind – if you haven’t been doing that – now you know!
  4. If you race a full-body car, and your opponent is running a rail (or altered or any car without front brakes), let them do their burnout first – The reason is that if they don’t have front brakes and they don’t have a way to line-lock their car, stop it from rolling forward, they are going to have to do their burnout past the starting line, out to 60 feet. Its going to take them time to back the car up and get in position so you’ve got time, it is a courtesy to wait. Usually the people at the starting line will give you an indication waving at you, nodding or giving you a thumbs up that now you can go – but it is usually after the dragster or altered has already made their burnout. So that is something to keep in mind if you’ve never raced a rail and you wonder why they are holding you back it is just to give the other guy more time and that is okay.
  5. You should rev the engine all the way up to the stutter box and keep the RPM very high – Myth! – You should never do this, for the health of your engine, there are harmonics that can cause the valve train to break down by keeping it at a sustained RPM – running your car up against the stutter box under a load like that will be difficult on the engine. It may not be bad for the drive train – that depends, it is subjective, but its really not good for your engine. I’m not making this up – it makes sense to me – but this comes from what I read over at Reher-Morrison’s blog: (http://rehermorrison.com/tech-talk-79-are-burnouts-abusing-your-engine/). There is no reason to run it up and keep it up against the box, the rev limiter, let your burnout go through the RPM range, make your shifts, let it come down, go back up – there is no reason to strain the engine here. Get to your final gear and pull through. Its not like your building a lot of heat in these tires, unless you are doing a burnout competition, if you get some smoke and you’ve run through the gears it is probably enough – your tires have been cleaned off.
  6. Roll control / Line lock – If you drive a street car and have always wondered how these other full body cars are doing a burnout – you know, in the parking lot you floor it while you let off the brake, its hard to break the tires loose so much that the car stands still and yet on our car, it seems to stand still, its no problem the front tires don’t move that’s because we have what is called a, “line lock”. What that means is that when I get up to do my burnout I pull forward, get the tires covered with water and then pump the brakes up to 1100 lbs of pressure. I have a trigger button on my shifter that I engage and that locks the brake line so that the front tires have 1100 lbs of pressure to hold them. It releases the brakes from the rear, so they are not controlled by the line lock and the brakes are off on the rear and so it is the opposite of an emergency brake except that as soon as I let go of the button everything is done as far as the brakes – all the fluid goes back into the master cylinder. So that is how they do it – its called a “Line Lock” or “Roll Control” – if you search on any racing parts website for either of those I’m sure you can find plenty of options. It DOES require a little bit of work, you need to be comfortable taking apart your brake lines, there may be some idiosyncrasies – you may have to read up on it if you any anti-lock braking systems. There may be some tricks to making this work so that you are not messing that up – so be careful and do your research. For a car like mine, a 1968 Firebird that has been tubbed out, its no problem to have the roll control in there and it is electronically run so the switch will need power, we have ours on our shifter so I can hit the button very easily. I’ve seen a lot of people put it on their steering wheel – all good options. I’ve also seen people use a toggle switch on their dashboard.

So that wraps up the six main points I wanted to cover about burnouts.

If you found this information helpful, go ahead and rate us in iTunes or wherever you found our podcast – that will help us get the word out. We hope that this becomes a new way to get the word out.

In the next episode I’m going to cover the five things you absolutely need to bring with you to the track on raceday. This is as a driver or an owner. I don’t know how many times I’ve had people come up to us with our rig, its not very sophisticated, I’ve got an open trailer, and a pick up truck. But I bring the stuff I need to compete. If you are going rounds, sometimes stuff breaks. You need to be ready to recover so you don’t have to go home from a simple breakage. I’ve got 5 tips on things that you need to bring. We’ll go over that.

I’m really excited to hear your stories – so anything you’ve got as far as story-wise – send it over. The worst that can happen is that I’m not able to use it right away. I have some stories – I’m looking forward to sharing one about where I hit a herd of goats on the race track. I’ve got a great story about losing the brakes. Again, I’m looking forward to seeing what the community comes up with.

Here is the video version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoh98eMwztQ

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One thought on “Episode 1: The Six Things You Need to Know About Doing a Burnout

  1. Thanks Leroy for all your great info..i appreciate it very much. . I commute to New York City listen to your podcast it was very helpful for a new drag racer like myself thanks again jimmy haire

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