How to Bracket Race Successfully Part Two: Essential Hardware

There is no way to describe how good it feels to see the win light come on for your lane at the end of a round of drag racing. After you experience it for the first time, you just can’t wait to see it again. If you read the first part in this series back in our July, 2012 issue, then you know what bracket racing is all about. If you’re currently participating in test and tunes or street legal drag strip events and you’re ready to try competitive racing, then this series is for you. If you’re looking to up your game because you’re already racing and want to win more, keep reading, we have some good tips for you.

This installment is focused on the essential hardware you need to have a fighting chance to obtain the consistency and predictability required to win in bracket racing. There are procedures and practices you can follow as well and we’ll be talking about that in an upcoming issue soon.

Step One, Get NHRA Membership and Register for Racer’s Discounts

Join the NHRA. Some tracks and all NHRA series (like the Summit Series) require membership. You can join online. Both and offer discounts to racers. Give each of them a call with your NHRA card in hand and got registered for a discount. It is inevitable that you’ll have to buy things for racing and you might as get them at a discount.

This is our home made log sheet. You want to be able to see at a glance what the conditions were and how your car performed.

Log Book

You absolutely must keep a log of weather conditions and how your car runs. As you gather experience over time you can refer to the log to see how your car does under certain conditions and spot trends. For example, we’ve learned that the Magnum with its intercooled Magnuson supercharger performs very linearly as temperature changes until the ambient temp drops below 65—then it makes an exponential increase in power. We also learned that rising humidity can slow the car down more than rising temperature will.

You can buy pre-printed log books from JEGS or Summit Racing, or make your own. We made our own because the pre-printed ones didn’t have the columns that we have found are important to us.

Weather Data Collection

In bracket racing you get a chance to make a run or runs down the drag strip for time only, called time trials, before competition. This is great for knowing what your car will run at that exact time, temperature and humidity. But how can you predict what it will run later in the day when it’s hotter, or later in the evening when it’s cooler? At any given track your car will make more power when it’s cooler and dry and less when it’s hotter and more humid.

Step one is to know the exact conditions when you make your time trial or trials. In order to do that, you have to have a method for knowing the weather conditions, the weight of your car and the altitude of the track. For the weight of your car, most tracks have scales near where you turn off the track onto the return road. These are mandatory for classes that have minimum weights so almost all tracks have them. For altitude, just look up your track data on the web or ask someone in the tower, they should know.

So that leaves weather. Thanks to smart phones, it’s possible to have a ballpark idea by checking such sites as,, etc. You can try a few and see which seems to have a reporting station nearest your track. This isn’t a preferred method, but it’s better then nothing and has the advantage of being free. Also free is finding a buddy at the track that has a weather station and is willing to share weather data with you. Tip: try to find a buddy that doesn’t run in your same class.