A Beginners Guide to MINI Drag Racing – Part 2 Featured

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1. 30. 2013   |  

So you’ve decided to join the MT hard-core and give drag racing a go, well first off, congratulations, you’ve broken the mental ‘OMG what if…’ barrier and now together we will ensure you’re prepared for what happens next and that you get the most out of your MINI on the day. But first off there are a few preparations that you might want to make, you don't have to, you can skip these, rock up in your MINI as is and have just as much fun doing it on the fly, but we think these very thorough steps are worth at least mentioning.

Santa Pod runs various RWYB events throughout the year which various members of MT attend so check out the events section for the next meet so you won’t be alone on the day. But before the event you need to make sure you’ve asked yourself a few questions and followed few suggestions:

3 weeks before

1. Is my MINI in need of a service? If yes, stop here and call an MT supplier to get it booked in before the event. If no carry on.

2. Is my clutch showing signs of wear in normal commuting traffic? The easy way to tell is to use the point of take up as an indicator. If it doesn't bite until the pedal is almost completely released it won't have much life left so this will need sorting before you attend.

3. Are my tyres in good shape? Slicks may be great for the pros but if they want to drive the car home again they’ll have a spare set of road tyres ready. So if you’re tyres are way past their wear markers, get them changed because this will affect your performance on track and will also increase your hobo rating on the forum when someone spots you going home on canvas. Plus, it’s better to be safe than sorry, you might get more tyre wear than expected on the day if the bug bites you hard.

4. Do my brakes work well? Don’t forget you will be trying to go as fast as you can over the quarter mile but you’ll also want to stop at the other end, so if the brakes are feeling a bit ropey, get them sorted now so they’ve got plenty of time to bed in before the event.

5. Do I need to register in advance at Santa Pod? Well strictly speaking no, but it’s more fun if you do. Go to http://www.rwyb.co.uk/cc_registration.php and sign up for the RWYB challenge – we’re so confident you will love drag racing that you may as well sign up for your own personal race number now. By signing up you will automatically be added to the RWYB Street Challenge Table each time you race using your race number. That way your fastest time each year will be etched into the drag racing annuls for all time and you can reminisce just how fast you used to be in later years.

2 weeks before

6. Have I been running the MINI on hobo juice? If you’ve been running on standard fuel i.e. anything 97 Ron or less, then start filling your tank up now with Tesco 99 or Shell V-Power so you go though a few tanks before the event. This way your MINI will adapt to running on the good stuff so when you give it beans at the strip, it will release as much performance as possible from the engine.

7. What fluids? Check all your fluid levels in case of a problem and refill where necessary. If you’re still way off a service but the oil is looking a little black then why not book it in with an MT supplier for a quick oil service - it’s cheaper than you think and your MINI will thank you in the long run.

1 week before

8. Re-check your fluid levels – if any of them have dropped significantly since the last time you checked then book it in with an MT supplier to find out why.

9. Find your driving licence – there is nothing worse than panicking at the last minute as you will need this on the day to ‘sign-on’.

10. Buy a litre of oil - (Opie Oils will send you some out with a nice little filler pouch too, just don’t forget to use your MT discount code) to keep in the boot in case a top up is needed

The day before

11. Give your MINI a good clean inside and out – there will be spectators on the day and don’t forget you’re representing the MINI brand and MT out there so take the time to make your MINI look as good as it can be, but don’t forget the inside too! If you’re like most of us on here you will have all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff cluttering up your MINI – get rid of it. If it’s not needed to help you go faster or take care of you on the day, leave it behind as it’s just added weight that will slow you down or distract you when you’re trying to concentrate on going fast.

12. Got gas? - Fill the MINI up with enough high performance fuel to leave you with about half a tank by the time you get to the strip. Again, weight is your enemy but so is running out of fuel; half a tank should see you right for the day.

13. Check your tyre pressures – if you’re running runflats then inflate to the owner’s manual recommendation. If you’ve ditched the runflats (bravo!) then over the years we’ve found that 32 psi all round suits most driving conditions so use that as a benchmark.

14. Tighten your wheel nuts – always worth doing this once a month anyway but doubly important before going to the strip. Nothing more embarrassing than going over the line on 3 wheels.

15. Check again - re-check fluid levels for the final time and remember to put that 1 litre bottle of oil in the boot in case you need it.

16. Get ready – Santa Pod has its own unique weather system where even on a sunny day it can be cold and windy so bring appropriate clothing as you may be outside for some time. If it’s summer bring sun-screen as it can get mighty hot. If you’re running at another drag strip such as Shakespeare Raceway in Warwickshire, you will need your arms and legs covered otherwise they won’t let you race.

17. Snacks – there are great facilities at Santa Pod and most MT meets start with a hearty breakfast in the legendary Pod café. However, drinks and snacks throughout the day can be a bit pricey and help turn a relatively cheap form of motorsport into an expensive day out by the time you’ve finished, so if you’re saving up for more MINI mods then bring your own snacks, but not so many it weighs the MINI down. 

18. Plan your route – there is normally a convoy of MINI’s heading to the strip so you can follow them. But sometimes they get a bit carried away and end up hooning it down the motorway leaving stragglers behind, so ensure you’ve printed out directions or have the postcode in your satnav. Once nearby there are easy to follow sign posts to get you there.

19. Early to bed - it’s a tiring day at the drag strip and you’ll be concentrating throughout the day on perfecting your launch and gear changes so get plenty of rest because it’s also an early start followed by a lot of action.

On the day

20. Wake up - Get up early to try and get there for about 8.15am ensuring you give the MINI a good thrashing on the way there to put it in the mood for the day ahead (no really, this helps, but we will cover this later). It’s good to get familiar with the place early on if it’s your first time there, but first things first…

21. Pay the lady - Santa Pod opens at 8am and you’ll be greeted at the entry gates to the strip by some very nice people who will relieve you of the £10 admission fee. Once through the gate you will then be asked by another marshal if you are competing or watching. If watching you will be asked to park in the car park but if competing then you will be asked to follow the road round to the main car park at the left hand side of the strip.

22. Beat the queue - If you’ve followed the steps above you should be ready to race, so rather than park up and then sign on, we like to park up in the ‘fire up lane’ so we get a good place in the queue and then go sign on. You will no doubt see other MINI’s already in the lane so head towards there and park in the right hand lane behind the car in front leaving a circa 4ft gap. Then head to the ‘sign on’ office at the front of the queue (don’t forget your licence and wallet), the left door is the entrance the right is the exit.

23. Sign on - To race you will have to fill in some basic info about you and your MINI, show them your driving licence and pay the nice ladies £25. In return they will give you a sexy wristband and a piece of paper to hand to the marshal in the fire-up lane who will assign you a race number. While there, don’t be afraid to have a chat to the ladies, they’re very nice and you can ask them any questions you like if there is something you’re not sure about, but if its busy in there, keep it brief. Also have a good look round because at the end of the counter is where you will be popping back to throughout the day to pick up your time slips so worthwhile familiarising yourself whilst it’s quiet. 

24. What's your number? - Head back to your MINI and have a good look around for the marshal who will normally have a clipboard and a white marker. Once you’ve found them, take them over to your MINI, give them the piece of paper you got at sign on and they will write your race number on your back window (remember we told you to clean the MINI yesterday, now you know why). But don’t worry, the number will come off easily enough the next day. If you’ve signed up for your own personal race number then get them to add that instead or if you want to be extra anal and don’t want someone writing on your window you can securely place a piece of A4 with your race number on the inside of your back window. Just make sure it can be easily read from a distance.

25. I said what's your number? - Stare at your race number until it goes into your brain because every time you go to the office to pick up your time slip you’ll need to give them your race number so to save wasting time later, remember it now.

26. Good eats - If you’ve arrived early then head to the café for some scran and banter with the rest of the MT people keeping an ear out for the track opening.

27. It’s time to race – normally the track opens at around 9.30am, but if they’re expecting bad weather later-on then it might open sooner so be ready from about 9am just in case. However, the fire-up lane marshal should be able to tell you exactly when it will open so don’t be afraid to ask. 

28. Final checks - This is your chance to give the MINI one last check over both internally and externally. Internal checks should include: warning lights on the dash, all loose items put away securely, fuel levels, engine temperature to ensure it’s warm. External checks should include: a visual check of the car for bits of loose trim, that your tyres all look fully inflated, all fluid levels are ok and there are no signs of damage or leaks in the engine bay or coming from underneath the MINI. Lastly, check again that your bonnet is shut tight. 

29. Your ready – strap yourself in, get comfortable and wait for your time to be called to the start line ensuring you keep behind the other cars leaving a 4ft gap in case the car in front bottles it and wants out of the queue as you’ll need to drive round them to get to the start line. At this point if you think there is anything wrong with the car or you’ve forgotten to check something, don’t be afraid, do it now and if need be signal to the car behind to go round you. If it’s going to take you a while to sort there is a small peel off lane on the right hand side near the front of the queue that you can park in to perform your checks. No one will be annoyed with you if you hold up proceedings for a minute or two, but they will be more annoyed if something fails on the MINI whilst you’re on the drag strip and they have to shut the track down to get it sorted.

30. Breathe and relax – you’ve done everything you can to prepare for the next 16 seconds or less of drag racing so relax. A relaxed driver is a fast driver - the MINI is ready, now it’s time to get you in drag racing mode in Part 3.


Read 1961 times Last modified on Thursday, 31 January 2013 16:57
Published in MINI Drag Racing