Episode 10: Six Things You Need to Know About Drag Racing Timeslips

This is episode ten of The Winner’s Circle, a drag racing podcast.

I’m your host, Leroy Leese. Our goal is to help you win more rounds at the track by sharing tips and tricks. This is episode ten brought to you by DragTracker.com, an online log book serving the racing community through tools and technology. For this episode we’re gonna cover six things you need to know about reading a time slip or a time card. But before we dig in I want to encourage you to check us out at DragTracker.com. On the right side of the website is a voicemail link. If you click that link you can leave me a voicemail to share stories or questions for a future topic on the show. Also to leave a comment about this episode go to DragTracker.com/podcast and click on episode ten. There you’ll find notes and information from the show including images about time cards that we’re gonna talk about. Finally, we put out a YouTube version of every episode so if you want to leave a comment there feel free to do so on our YouTube channel, YouTube.com/DragTracker.

All right, so let’s talk about time cards or time slips. Before we dig in on what a time slip looks like when you get to the track today I thought it would be kind of cool to do a little digging through the archives of what some time cards have looked like and the kind of information that’s been on them so we understand just how – where we’ve come from, how far we’ve come in the last 30 or 40 years. A timecard from the 1970's from 75-80 DragwayI have access to time slips from 1976 when my dad was racing his 69 GTO and so I thought I’d share what’s on those actual time cards. So here’s one from 75-80 in Monrovia, Maryland, that was – that had four things on it. It had the class, it had the car number, and then it had two other things – ET which in this case was 1385 and mile per hour, 103.5. Now when you get a time card these days the mile per hours measure to the third decimal point. On this one it was just .5 so who knows if it was even – it was 103 and a half, you know, maybe a half. And it was handwritten. It wasn’t printed out. They didn’t even have affordable printers at that point. So, you know, it’s interesting. There’s also won or lost check box and the won check is x’ed out and it says congratulations. So in this particular one I think this was a trophy class, it’s about the size of a business card and it said first place and had the time but there’s no indication of any kind of dial in or anything like that so I don’t know if it was heads up or how exactly this race was one, but first place. So that’s from 75-80.

Capitol Raceway Timecard from 1976 - Certification of PerformanceThen I’ve also got one here from 1976 that was from Capitol Raceway in Crofton, Maryland, and it is not called a time card or a time slip. It’s called a certification of performance. And so it has stamped across it trophy, has an ET 14.24 and then speed 102.07. So there’s two decimal places there. And it looks like it was of a 1390 dial in or 1390 index. And apparently 14.24 won a trophy in this case. Anyway, it’s kind of interesting it was called a certification of performance. I don’t know exactly where you took it to prove your certification but I think that’s interesting. York US30 Timecard from 1976I’ve got one here from York US-30, really interesting. Again it’s a won – it’s got a won and lost check box, the won is checked. It says standing elapsed time 1393 so the class though was 1380 so that must have been the dial in. Maximum speed obtained 99.77. Again I’m reading off these numbers so you can understand there just wasn’t much information. It was all about beginning to end how long did it take and how fast were you going. So pretty interesting stuff.

Mason Dixon Dragway Timeslip from 1976I’ve also got one here from Mason Dixon Dragway. Again it says certification of performance. Top speed, elapsed time, car number, that’s about it. So in the mid-70s you didn’t get a lot of information. And I’m posting images of this on our podcast page so it’ll actually be at DragTracker.com/podcast. There’ll be an episode ten link. You’ll click that and then you’ll get to see these images. But here’s one from 1977 when – or 1978. It’s highlighted on the York US30 and on the top it says Track of the Year. It has number, dial in, mile per hour, ET and then whether or not it was time trials or whether it was a buy run. But it says official time certification. Again, it doesn’t say anything, it doesn’t say time slip, time card but it’s about the size of a business card. And again, all handwritten. So these are, you know, it’s pretty interesting.

Maple Grove Raceway Timecard from 1983Now I’m getting into some that were from the 80s. So I’ve got one here from 1983. It’s got a little more information so I’m looking at one from Maple Grove Dragway in Redding, Pennsylvania. It says official Chrondek time, official time card and it has ET, ET dialed, mile per hour and then reaction time. And class number and name. And the ET actually goes out to three decimal places and mile per hour goes out to two decimal places. And the reaction time based back then was based off of a .500 tree. So it was actually triggered after the last yellow. So it counted down a half second after the last yellow before it was appropriate to launch the car. So some of the numbers here aren’t very impressive as far as actual reaction time. But I’m seeing a .952. It’s not as bad as it sounds because if you’re used to zero based 500 bulb trees but still you’re not gonna win a lot of rounds if you’re consistently cutting .952 lights. All right, so these are some, again, official time card is what this was called. So they’re called time cards, time slips. So yeah, interesting. They’ve changed a lot.

1998 Maple Grove TimeslipsNow I have some time slips that are by the CompuLink Star Track system at Maple Grove in 1998. So 14 years later this is the kind of information they had. They have the date and time, temperature in Fahrenheit. They’ve got relative humidity, absolute barometer, car number, class, dial in, reaction, 60 foot 330 eighth mile, mile per hour at the eighth mile. Thousand foot time, quarter mile, quarter mile, mile per hour. And then it tells you the MOV, margin of victory, and time. And then also the round during eliminations. So this is tons of information. This is great. This is what we’re looking for as far as, you know, getting a lot of information to be able to put in our database. But I wanted to let you know about sort of how far we came and it took a while to get there as far as being able to have all this data available to the bracket racer. And, in fact, I think the professionals probably had those time slips too where they only had ET and mile per hour. They didn’t have any interval times. And so, you know, what a challenge to figure out where exactly you needed to change the performance on your car in order to have a better run overall. Okay, so that’s interesting. That’s how time slips have evolved.

But what I want to talk about for the time slip that you get at the racetrack today are sort of how to use it and how to capitalize on the information on it so that you can win rounds on race day. So let’s talk about it. So right from the beginning the number one tip I have about time slips and how to read them, how to use them that at a lot of tracks I’ve been to, I don’t know if it’s at every track so I can’t speak for every track. If they don’t do this it’s probably a good idea but many times there are two copies and they’re printing out a carbon copy. So you get one copy that is white and one copy that’s yellow that’s the carbon copy. The faster car or the winning car gets the white copy. So that’s important to know. So here I’m looking at a time slip that I got from Knoxville Drag Strip just couple of weeks ago and there’s no car number. Left lane, right lane, no car number. No dial in either. So looking at this time slip if the cars are matched fairly closely, I’m not sure exactly which car I was. In this case I can tell which car I was because not only do I remember this run but if this was a year or two old I might not remember which run it is. I can tell that I got the white copy so I must have been the faster car. So that’s how I know even though my car number’s not on here I can tell I was in the left lane because I got the white copy and the white copy goes to the faster car or the car that won. So I don’t know, that’s – not every track does that. I know when I was racing in Florida they gave the winning car or the faster car the white copy and I noticed because sometimes even when I was the faster car but I lost I got the yellow copy during elimination. So that’s how you can tell if the car number isn’t written on there. So that’s tip number one.

Tip number two is that some tracks don’t have the intervals listed on the time slip. They don’t tell you what it is. They just have I-1, I-2, I-3 and not even all of them are filled out. It would be great if they could fill this out but if they don’t and you still are comfortable racing there and certainly could be, the I-1 is almost guaranteed to be the 60 foot time. And the reason the 60 foot time is important is because you can tell between zero and 60 feet whether or not you’re getting traction consistently. So it’s interesting to look at it when I put change the rear gears out I can tell I’m gonna see lower numbers, faster numbers, whenever – or quicker numbers when I have a higher numerical rear gear. And if I were to gear down or lower the number I’ll have slower times. So you can start to see that. You can also tell if you’re getting traction if they’ve done track prep or if they haven’t been doing track prep you’ll start to see this number change. And a lot of times you can feel it. When you take off it feels like, you know, you’re skating around, you’re not getting traction. You’ll see evidence of that in the 60 foot times so that can be really useful. Some cars carry their wheels through the 60 foot. I haven’t actually – we’ve carried the wheels a number of times and unless you’re really pulling the wheels you’re still gonna trip that light. But there’s a chance that if you’re, you know, putting a car on the back bumper that your front tires aren’t gonna trip it and it’ll be the rear tires. So you need to account for that if you’re looking at it and it looks really off there’s a chance your front tires didn’t actually trip the 60 foot marker. But that’s why that’s real important is 60 foot time means you use it to account for whether or not you’ve got traction. So that’s tip number two.

Tip number three is that reaction time is zero based. So that that means is when you have a .00 which is a perfect light, that means that you broke – your front tires actually broke the beams or allowed the beams to connect, they’re infrared, when your tires moved out of the way that was the exact same time that the green light came on. So this is important to know because if you get a negative reaction time that means you left early, that amount too early. So if it’s a -017 that means you left 17 thousandths of a second too early. It used to be that the – and I mentioned it when I was talking about some of these old time slips that it was a 500 tree. So that means that the actual timer started after the last yellow and a perfect light was a .500. That meant exactly one-half a second after the last yellow came on was when the green light came on and you just had to know, oh, if I cut a 500 light it was perfect, if I cut a 492 that was red, that was eight thousandths of a second too early. If you ran – when they had 400 bulbs or a 400 tree which is a pro tree where all three yellow lights come on at the same time, when they were running that in the pro classes in NHRA, .400 was a perfect light. So you had to know there was a difference. Now it doesn’t matter if you’re racing pro or sportsman trees, zero is always perfect and anything less, a negative number, is red for both kinds of racing. So that’s important to know when you’re looking at your time slip. So that’s thing number three. That reaction time is zero based.

Also I’ve seen a lot of debate lately when I’ve looked on the forums about whether or not reaction time is included as part of your elapsed time. It’s not. Your elapsed time doesn’t start until your front tire rolls out of the beams. So you could have a green light for two seconds and it’s not gonna affect your elapsed time. You could sit there two days, it’s not gonna affect your elapsed time. The elapsed time doesn’t start until your tires roll out of the beams. So just like when – well it’s just like when you’re downhill skiing, right. I believe they have a margin that they have to leave during but it doesn’t – the timer for them doesn’t start until they break through the gate. And so drag racing is the exact same way and I think that’s confusing because, for instance, runners when there’s eight runners running around a track the time starts when the gun goes off. And so you would think, well, the time for drag racing must go off when the green light comes on but that’s not the case. Each lane is individually timed and so that’s important to know when you look at a time slip you’re elapsed time won’t be faster if you sat at the starting line. It’s not like – or it won’t be slower. I mean they’re unrelated. Reaction time is how long it took from the time the light went down and your ET is just how long it took your car to move. And if you add the two, ET and reaction, this is how you start to arrive at what’s called a package but we’ll get to that in a second.

Number four is just a simple advice from a guy who goes to the track a lot. I use the back of the time slip and sometimes the front as a place for notes. As soon as I’m done with the run and I get back to the pits I pull the pen out of my bag that I have next to me and I start writing down notes. And I’ll try and keep track of, you know, what were the flags doing? Were they blowing? Were they blowing as a tailwind? Were they blowing as a headwind? You know, roughly what kind of mile per hour was it, you know. And you can kind of tell if it’s ten mile an hour gusts or whatever because you paid attention to the weather. I write down if I change the jetting. What was it for that run. If I, you know, sometimes when you’re in eliminations and tires are getting hot and then they start to cool down as it gets later in the evening you start to have to adjust your tire pressure, it might be a little low. It might be a little high. Whatever the case maybe I write down the tire pressure for every single run. And I also write down for what I thought my launch RPM was which is important for me as a foot brake racer. And then I check and cross check that with what the race pack data is later. But I write down what I was shooting for, what I was trying to do there. If there was something worth noting about – anything at all. If I thought I was out of the groove I write that down and so that’s another tip that’s – this thing can be so valuable because later on when you’ve got a stack of them, you know, this is over a couple of different seasons here, I can go through and I can start to see either patterns or trends, you know, but I’ve got the notes right here related to exactly what I did on that run. So that’s tip number four.

But then tip number five. All right, so let’s dig in a little bit further on the data that’s actually on the time card or on the time slip. There’s something – there’s a bunch of different fields and I ran through them when I was reading off the Maple Grove time card that, you know, 60 foot, 1,000 foot, all these are important and we enter these into our log books and that kind of stuff. But at the bottom is this thing called MOV and that stands for margin of victory. And usually most tracks that I’ve seen the time cards MOV comes through as a time, okay. So this is a time interval. And what it is is it is the time interval between both drivers’ packages. So let’s talk about what a package is. A package is your reaction time plus your ET minus your dial in. So if whoever had the best package which is the number closest to zero, they’re the winner. You have to win because that means they were the closest to being perfect. Now if you red light this doesn’t count. Or if you have a negative package, I mean, obviously something else happened. You broke out or whatever. So it’s the person closest to zero without breaking any other rules. So your opponent – the way you figure out margin of victory is you take your opponent’s package and you subtract your package and that’s your margin of victory – in time.

Now when I see a margin of victory of .004, I go four-thousandths of a second, yeah, sure. It went fast, you know, but what does that mean really. How tight was the racing? Well, the way you can figure that out – you can figure out how many feet you were ahead or behind at the finish line by taking your opponent’s package, subtracting your package, multiplying it by the slower car’s mile per hour and then multiplying that by 1.47. Why 1.47? Well that’s 5,280 feet which is how many feet are in a mile divided by 60 minutes, divided by 60 seconds. The reason you divide there is we’re converting this number that’s a time .0042 from miles per hour – so miles – 5,280 feet in a mile, 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, to feet per second is basically what we’re converting it to. So the distance there is when you run this calculation.

So let’s actually try it with some real numbers. And I have some numbers here. Okay, so this was a race that I couldn’t actually find the time card for so I’ve just got it on a piece of paper. But I’ve got it in the log book. So I was racing this GMC dually truck and he and I had actually pretty good margin of victory. There was a pretty big difference between the performance of our vehicles. Obviously I was running a car that was tubbed out with slicks. He’s running a dually truck diesel. And so what were the differences. Well if we take the differences in our time – so he had a .078 reaction and a 15.779 ET. So we take those numbers and we add them together and then we subtract his dial in. So he had a 15.770 ET and a 15.77 dial in. So he only ran nine-thousandths over. Now his tree wasn’t that great, a .078. So his total package was .087.

For me I didn’t do that great either on the reaction time. I was .068 but I ran an 11.647 on an 11.64 dial. So in the stands this looked like a pretty good run. We both ran on our dials. I was seven-thousandths off, he was nine-thousandths off. And I had one-hundredth on him in the reaction time. So my mile an hour was 110 and if we multiply this out, and actually we should probably be using his mile an hour, it’s probably in the 90s but we’ll use my mile per hour. It really doesn’t make that much of a difference. The total MOV was .012. We multiply that times 110 and then times 1.47 total feet. My margin of victory coming down on this dually was 1.94 feet. So two feet. So I had about two tires on him, you know. Or one tire. It depends on how big your tires are. But it was a close race. It was tight. Because if you think about a car that’s only doing – or a truck – when you’re racing a truck 15.77, I mean it was like he was tied to a tree. He was going very slowly. He might have even tapped the brakes so his mile an hour was down. And I was coming down on him. I touched the brakes too, eked him across the finish line by 1.94 feet. So anyway, that’s how you can figure out exactly the total margin of victory in feet when on your time slip they give you MOV as a time.

And they’ll also tell you if somebody had an infraction. Sometimes they’ll tell you – sometimes they report to you the total MOV in feet but a lot of times, a lot of tracks I’ve seen don’t actually tell you that. You have to calculate it yourself. And that’s really, I mean it’s just – it’s bragging rights really, I mean, you want to have a tight margin of victory. You want to run consistently on your dial. You also want to have great reactions so you want to have the best package you possibly can. But yeah, so that’s more information about how margin of victory works.

So the last thing I want to talk about, number six, is interval times. There are a couple of intervals that I wanted to bring to your attention. I already went into a little bit of detail on the 60 foot time. That’s important because of traction. The other thing that a lot of tracks I’ve heard of and actually I was working with a guy who was – we were emailing back and forth, Rick Shofner, who goes to the Mid State Dragway. He was telling me that their track has a 594 foot time. And if you do the math if that’s an eighth mile track that’s actually 66 feet which probably means that that timer is also used to calculate the mile per hour. So it’s the first of the two traps that help measure mile per hour at the end of the race. But if you have that interval time, 594 feet, if you end up touching the brakes while you’re going through those last 66 feet, if you touch the brakes you don’t know exactly what your ET was gonna be but you can look at historical evidence, previous runs during the day, and see whenever I ran this 594 foot time that means I run X ET. And so it’s basically it’s a great little marker for – this is what my car would have run if I hadn’t of touched the brakes.

Same thing with thousand foot. If you run a quarter mile that thousand foot time is basically what you use that to help you gauge what the car would have run if you wouldn’t have touched the brakes. But that’s about all I wanted to share as far as time slip. Your basic how to read a time slip when you get to the track and what this means, why you care, you know, how to apply it to help you win races that day. Margin of victory, yeah, all these things. So if you have any questions about time slips and maybe you’re not understanding. Maybe you have a time slip that looks weird and, you know, I haven’t seen any time slips from other countries so I’m not sure if the guys that follow us in Australia or in Sweden, what exactly their time slips look like. Yeah, so anyway, hit be back if you have any questions or thoughts on reading your time slip. Or if you have a time slip – if you race at a track that gets a time slip that’s different, you know, send us an email or post a comment on the website so we can take a look at it and maybe it’ll give us something to talk about next time.

So continuing with what we’ve been doing in the last couple of episodes with pit etiquette, we got one from our YouTube channel, Steven Shepard posted a comment and he said as far as etiquette, don’t park behind somebody else’s trailer, right. So it makes sense. I mean I guess it’s happened to him that people have pulled up and probably blocked him from getting his car back up on his trailer. It could especially be a problem say if your car breaks down and you need to get your trailer out to go pick it up at the bottom of the track. I mean that could be a real pain and so it’s just not courteous to park your car behind somebody else’s trailer and because it can really – it can make it so they can’t even move, they can’t load their car on their trailer. You could imagine if they just lost a round and now you’re parked behind them. They’re not gonna be very happy to see your car there. So word to the wise – find another parking spot.

All right so I’ve been requesting stories and questions and stuff from people. I’ve gotten a little bit of feedback and, you know, this is our tenth episode so we’re still trying to get the word out. If there’s anything you could do forward on this information to get it to any drag racers or up and coming drag racers that you think could benefit from this information. We’re just trying to serve the racing community, trying to educate people on how drag racing works, you know, and getting people engaged in why it’s so much fun. I mean, yeah, we all stand to win when there’s more people in the playing field and having fun.

So yeah, I’m looking forward to people contributing but here I wanted to share a story. This is about a guy who, I don’t know, I’ll let him tell it. It’s about – it’s Larry and you’ll hear me talking. I got this one a couple of weeks ago, a couple of months ago and anyway so here’s Larry telling his story.

I didn’t know it was gonna have such a happy ending here.

Yeah, so let me get this straight. So you had the engine built in 1990.

Yeah, I assembled it in 1990.

Oh, you built it.

I built it. Okay. Yeah, I had.

Four hundred? Four fifth-five?

Four fifty-five. Sixty over.

Oh, okay.

All Chief parts. TRW pistons. Cast rods, okay. I ended up using a $50 used Norris cam from California. Of course they’re out of business right now. Best cam I ever put in the car. I tried three or four different grinds, the best cam by far. Better than what’s in the car now. Yes.

Okay, so I remember you racing back in 2000 and the late 90s.

Yeah, late 90s. All from 90 to – from 90 when I built it in October of 90 right through 99 in October was when I quit because I was having bad handling issues. The motor was working fine. So the motor stays in the car. I rebuild all the suspension and everything completely. And then came back 12 years later with mufflers on the car. And we were going 1170s, 1180s at practice day. Three weeks later we jumped in the Pontiac race in October, had 21 cars and we won.

You won the whole thing. Won the whole thing.

Yes. First win ever. So that’s my big story.

Thanks for sharing.

You’re welcome, you’re welcome.

So that’s Larry talking about taking a lot of time off, getting back in the saddle and winning. And so that’s pretty fun and I always enjoy talking to Larry. He does – so Larry Rowe does distributor work on Pontiacs so if anybody’s looking for a good distributor guy you can find his ad on the Outlaw Pontiacs website. But a cool guy and actually, yeah, so anyway.

Yeah, we’re still trying to build an – on I wanted to bring up. We’re on Stitcher Radio and this is very exciting because Stitcher’s about to be in actual cars that are out there. You can, of course, download it and put it on your Android device. Stitcher Radio is available – I think it’s available in both iPhone and Android but for those of you who have iPhones, you probably are using the podcasting app. If you use an Android and you are only familiar with us through other means like the YouTube channel, it’s pretty cool that you can actually get us on Stitcher Radio. The fact that they’re gonna be installing Stitcher Radio as part of what comes with cars means that people will be able to get our information without leaving their car, without having to set up any kind of special downloads. They can just find our channel on their dashboard and play it in their car. How cool is that. So anyway, we’re really excited to be part of the first level of people that get in on Stitcher Radio and are gonna be – this content’s gonna be available for them. So, but if you, you know, even if you’re not buying a new car, check us out on Stitcher Radio. We’re excited to be a content member there.

Yeah, I got to go to the Atlanta race that rained out so I’ve been putting up some vlogs related to that. I had a blast. Actually that’s what I wanted to tell you. I wrote a book. I don’t know, I’m not a writer guy but I did throw together a book. Some tips on starting line techniques. And you can get the book for free if you sign up on DragTracker.com. So just sign up, you know, you enter your email, username, password and you get a lot of other benefits by being a DragTracker member but I put four tips for starting line techniques and tactics in this book and so, you know, if you are looking to take your game up a notch – I also talked with a bunch of NHRA professional drag racers. So Erica Enders-Stevens, Matt Hagan, Greg Anderson, J.R. Todd. I talked to these people. It’s kind of weird. I walked up to them through their autograph line and while they were signing autographs they spent time with me, each of them did. And they were all very generous but especially Greg Anderson spent some time with me. Erica Enders-Stevens spent time with me just talking about what some of the things she did. So I’m revealing some of what they shared and I told them I was writing a book so this is all good stuff. But anyway, some of that’s in the book and some of it’s coming in the vlogs that I’ve been doing that I’m sharing.

So anyway, I’m very excited about this, you know, it’s interesting how different drivers who are all winners have different angles on what’s part of their plan for success. And some of it applies to sportsman level racers. Some of it we have to understand that they have a different way of looking at the tree because they run a different kind of race. But still it’s all solid gold and I was very appreciative of everybody’s time, appreciative that they took the time to answer my questions sincerely because I could tell that they weren’t putting up a front. They were really just sharing this is part of what makes me successful and man, so we can all take a page out of that book, right.

So take a page out of my book. It’s called Starting Line Tips and Tricks and if you sign up on DragTracker.com it’ll come in your email inbox and you get – you can, you know, learn from what I’ve learned but also learn from what the pros had to say. So check that out. So anyway, I’m not sure what the next topic is gonna be on or next episode but an upcoming episode is gonna be about superstitions. So I’ve got some fun stories about that. I’m really excited. If you have a story you’d love to share about – it could be anything – a lucky rabbit’s foot you keep in your pocket while you race. Maybe you have lucky race day underwear. Anything at all. I want to hear about it and I want to share it so if you’re really superstitious and you think it’s really working maybe you don’t share it but for the rest of us, you know, I’m really curious. And I’ve got some props and stuff that I’m gonna bring in and kind of share. I may be wearing my lucky racing shirt that day. So I actually have two of them that I consider lucky. Anyway, I just want to hear what, you know, what superstitions you have or any kind of, you know, we talked about in one of the previous episodes about rituals. If there’s some kind of thing that you always do before a round, tell me what it is because I’d love to include it as part of the show. And you can leave a voicemail on our voicemail link or just send me an email and, you know, we’ll take it from there. But anyway, that’s what’s coming up in a future episode so I’m gearing up for that. And we’ve got a bunch of exciting other things going on. I’ve got some more interviews lined up but yeah, I’d just love to hear from you if you have any feedback at all. Again, YouTube.com/DragTracker or DragTracker.com/podcast. Or email me podcast@DragTracker.com. Lots of ways to keep in touch. But in any case, I hope you’re having a great race season. Yeah, so race safe. Race to win. Take care. Thank you.



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