A prudent early goal at the dragstrip, particularly the first day, is just getting down the track safely without missing shifts or breaking anything. The next logical goal is targeting the Chevy quarter-mile specification for your car.
Until your driving becomes reasonably consistent, I suggest ignoring the car in the other lane and your reaction time at the starting line. Measurement of your elapsed time (e.t.) won't commence until the car leaves the starting beam, no matter how long after the green light that may be. Freeing yourself from those distractions will speed up progress on improving your driving. If you decide later to try bracket racing, you will already have reasonably consistent driving skills and can begin to focus on the competitive dimensions of drag racing.
Launch on drag radials, Maryland...
Launch on drag radials, Maryland International Raceway.
Staged for a pass at Maryland...
Staged for a pass at Maryland International Raceway.
On Arrival At The Dragstrip
* Present the car for routine technical inspection, show your helmet, and receive the window number that will identify the car and appear on your timeslips. Ask about the location of the facility's air hose; you'll need it at the end of the day.
* Lower the stock rear tire pressure to 25-26 psi (hot) before making the first pass. This allows more sidewall flex, improving traction, cushioning shock to the driveline, and reducing the likelihood of wheel hop, which can break rearend parts. Readjust the tire pressure before each subsequent pass because sun load will make the psi rise and become uneven side-to-side.
* Adjust the driver's seat and steering wheel to your pre-set race positions. Then do at least two sets of shifting drills to warm up the shifting muscles and refresh your reflexes.
* Get a quick briefing from an experienced racer on procedures in the staging lanes and at the starting line. Ask to be shown the racing groove in the track surface; for optimal traction you'll want to align your tires in the groove. Ask also about the location of the entry point for the return-road at the end of the track and the timeslip window.
Staging The Car
* Drive around the water box to keep the stock tires dry.
* Properly set the traction control system. A C5 should be in "Competitive Driving" mode and a C6 in "Traction System Off" mode. These settings allow the rear wheels to spin while keeping Active Handling available to help the driver retain control of the car if the rear end gets loose on launch or a shift. If that happens, best advice is to lift the throttle immediately; it is far better to abort a run and save the car than err colossally by hitting the wall while fighting to salvage a deeply flawed pass.
* When moving to stage the car for a pass, align the wheels in the racing groove. As the car moves forward toward the starting line, it first trips the pre-stage beam, which lights the top pair of small bulbs. From that point, inch forward very, very slowly. When the lower bulb pair lights, stop immediately. That position is called shallow staged. It's where you want to be. Next, prepare to launch the car.