Drag Strip Gymnastics
We continue a prelude to the H.A.M.B. Drags with a nod towards our Olympians… How So? With this article found in the September, 1957 issue of Hot Rod Magazine:
“The ultimate success (or failure) of a drag strip, as with any form of entertainment, depends heavily upon the amount of showmanship it displays. The drag strip starter therefore plays a leading role in each operation. Various methods have been devised from time to time to eliminate the Starter by replacing him with electrical systems aimed at increasing efficiency. In the long run, however, it always becomes apparent that much of an event’s glamor disappears along with the Starter, and the old manual starting system is inevitably returned to the scene.
A good starter most know his business. His is the responsibility for keeping the meet in motion, yet he must maintain safety on the strip at all times. His judgment and his actions must be quick, precise and totally impartial. Many techniques have been developed by Starters in their endeavors to please the crowd. Drag strip gymnastics are the accepted thing, certainly to be encouraged. There are, however, right and wrong ways to start a drag race. Where the outcome of a contest depends so much on an equal start, a correct starting procedure becomes paramount in importance to participants.
A simple, yet effective starting method is as follows. The starter holds two flags; red in left and green, or checkered, in right. Facing the two competition cars, he rests end of green flag on ground and points red flag, in turn, at two drivers. Each driver indicates his readiness with a nod. As soon as the Starter is assured that both drivers are ready he lifts green flag from ground in a clean sweep “GO” signal. Care should be taken to allow a brief interval (50-100 seconds) between the “ready?” inquiries and the “GO” signal. Duration of these intervals should be varied to avoid setting a steady pace pattern. In the event of a bad, uneven start, the Starter holds his red flag aloft, signaling “no start.” Caution must be taken to prevent lengthy delaying of competition machines on the line, as most of them rapidly become overheated.
In addition to all of this and looking out for his own safety, the alert Starter feels obligated to leap into the air like a gazelle with each start – a nice trick if one’s stamina is up to it. Most interesting part of it all is that drag strip starters almost invariably work “for free” – the mark of a true hot rodder.”