Drag Racing


A drag race is an acceleration contest from a standing start between two vehicles side by side over a measured distance. The accepted standard for that distance is either a quarter-mile (1,320 feet) or. A drag racing event is a series of two-vehicle tournament-style eliminations. The losing driver in each race is eliminated, and the winning drivers progress until one driver remains.

It started out as a wild activity practiced by hoodlums in hopped-up cars, but over the course of a few decades, drag racing would ultimately transform itself into one of the world's most popular motorsports. Early drag strips were temporary facilities with no safety barriers or grandstands—just pavement, people and fast cars. Corporate sponsorship and glistening transporter trucks were far in the unimaginable future.

Perhaps the best remembered part of drag racing in these early days was the low-tech approach of using a flagman to start races. Few sights were as entertaining as a flagman leaping off the ground, waving his green flag as two cars screamed off the line. However, 1963 proved to be a turning point in drag racing's development when tracks replaced flag starters with the electronic "Christmas tree" starting system.

Drag Racing in South Africa

Legal drag racing is a highly organised affair. Strips are graded from A (which can host international or national events) to B (which can host regional events) down to E strips which accommodate the slowest of the street car classes. Cars are scrutinised to ensure that they are as safe as possible.

All competitors must be in possession of a valid Drag Racing License issued my Motorsport SA. All competitors under the age of 21 must have their license application form countersigned by a parent or legal guardian. Racing is either on a regional or national level, a separate license is needed for each category.

Car categories racing in the nationals

Top Eliminator
Senior Eliminator
Super Competition Eliminator
Competition Eliminator
Street Modified
Factory Stock

Bike categories racing in the nationals

Pro Street Bikes
Superbike Elimination
1000cc Shootout

Legal versus illegal drag racing

Race days that are sanctioned by Motor Sport South Africa have strict rules and regulations to keep the drivers and spectators safe. Sanctioned races have racing standards, medical and response vehicles, marshals and crowd control. Illegal racing, however, is not bound by any rules. Anyone can race who they want, when they want and how they want.

If any MSA licensed drag racing driver participates in an illegal event, their license will be revoked and they will be unable to participate in any sanctioned event such as regionals and nationals. What’s more, insurance companies will not cover accidents as a result of illegal drag racing events.

In an effort to find a solution to illegal street racing, a number of years ago the MSA Drag Commission started The Illegal2Legal programme. This organisation enabled the illegal racers to compete at a price they found affordable. For a small they got everything from officials, start lights, a proper floodlit drag strip, print-outs of their times and all the held and support they needed. Most of all this provides for safe viewing for the spectators. However, there are a few necessary rules: drinking or drugs are not allowed, and drivers must wear a crash helmet, and wear long trousers, long sleeves and closed shoes.

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