Other than holding weekly test and tunes for drag cars and larger themed events throughout the year, Heathcote Park Raceway hold what they call the HPR Sportsman Series. A competition style event held throughout each year, allowing teams to go up against other drivers and vehicles in the same drag racing class in a more casual environment. The weekend before Christmas, I headed to Heathcote to see what it was all about.
For the first four hours of track action, drivers were given multiple runs to test and tune their cars, find any issues and get a feel for the track conditions.
Most importantly, it would give the drivers and their cars a base of quarter mile times for the competition in the afternoon, which would be crucial in getting the most out of the DYO format of racing.
Whilst the drag racers were focusing on getting the fastest times they could, setting up their cars for the afternoon's competition, the bogans were making as much noise and clouds as possible, figuring out the best way to destroy rear tyres in the most flamboyant fashion.
Anyway, let's head back to the drag strip. The afternoon's DYO races would be split into four categories of vehicles: Race cars, street cars, juniour dragsters and motorbikes.
DYO (which stands for Dial Your Own) allows the drivers to nominate a time for them to race against instead of racing another car from lights out to the end of the quarter mile, whilst still racing another car.
So, let's say your best time during the test and tune was 14.1 seconds, you would nominate that as your time. Which means if you line up against someone with a nominated time of 10.1 seconds, you will get a 4 second head start.
This allows the racing to be all down to the driver, rather than which car is technically faster.
After the pre-stage burnout and lining up at the Christmas Tree, the driver needs to focus on getting the best reaction time when the green light flashes. They're on their own from then on, whilst the other car hunts them down to the line.
The winner is the first to cross the finish line at the end of the quarter mile, however, if the winner goes faster than their nominated time, it is an immediate loss, giving the win to the other competitor. However, if you think you can go faster than your nominated time, you can change it in between runs.
At the end of the day though, the overall winner will be the most consistent. The driver who can get the best reaction off the line and most critically, as close to their nominated time as possible without going faster than it. Your car may be five seconds slower down the strip than the car lining up alongside you, but if you can do all of the above, you're in a good position to stand on the top step of the podium at the end of the day.