Steeda's Basic Drag Strip Guide - Part 1
We asked Steeda legend, factory manager and World Record breaking drag strip pilot, Scott Boda for some tips for those of you who want to hit the drag strip at Santa Pod or some of Europe's other drag strips...
Scott has put together our World Record Silver Bullet drag development car which is the first 2018 Mustang to break into the 9's "all motor", that is to say with NO power adders, like Forced Induction (turbos or superchargers) or Nitrous boosts, a frankly amazing achievement! Ford have developed an incredibly capable platform for us to work with and boy has Scott built on it! Part of the reason we did this is to illustrate that without good traction, power is useless, so with the silver bullet, the build has been all about deploying what the Mustang has already got as effectively as possible. Far too often people think that drag racing just means "who has the most power".... and nothing can be further from the truth....
For this guide I asked Scott four questions:
1. Pre race prep for the car
2. On the strip tips for the driver.
3. Modification advice
4. Getting more serious...
So let's see what he said... (all italics are quotes direct from Scott)
1. Car Preparation. What should you check or change?
These are some simple and basic steps:
i. Torque your wheels prior to your first run, and again after your first run. This is especially important if you have changed to your drag / track wheels!
ii. "Check all fluid levels too. You also want to make sure the car is clean and not leaking any fluids. A clean and waxed car is slipperier and therefore faster. We also typically check the alignment and tire wear prior to heading out also."
iii. Up the air pressure to maximum safe pressure on your front wheels to reduce rolling resistance. "On some steel belted skinnys we run north of 50psi. On the bias ply that are on the car currently, only 35 psi"
On the rears lower pressure to something where you won't have to add air once at the track (as the rears will build heat and therefore pressure)
"The rears depends too on tires, a typical street tire will work good around 22-24psi. If it’s a drag radial, like the Mickey SS 305/45/17 we run, it likes 18-21 psi on our car."
iv. A free change you can do is to disconnect one of the front roll bar links to 'disconnect' the front roll bar from the car, which can also help gain traction.
2. On the Strip! Driver Tips.
"Clear head and run your own race. Doesn’t matter who or what is next to you. Go out there with a goal and be mentally prepared on what it’s going to take to achieve that goal. Typically speaking we know exactly what we will be doing the first 1 or 2 passes, then we look at the data and make adjustments from there. Conditions in the air and the track will determine what’s next.
When driving, you drive with your butt. Road racers taught me that. Before you see or hear anything you will feel it in your butt first, wheel hop, car kicking sideways, always be prepared. Wheel hop or tire shake will hurt more parts then getting full traction. So if you feel the rear start to break lose, pedal the car, don’t just stay in it. Also, while it sounds simple, keep the car as straight as possible. Any side to side driving will scrub speed and reduce ET."
["Pedalling the car" means using the throttle to regain control, so not just fully on or fully off throttle. Drag racing is all about feeling traction whilst trying to go as fast as possible!]
Scott's launch tips:
"A lot of this will depend on tire, the sticker the tire the more aggressive you can get. I always tell people with manuals get ready to slip the clutch a little, you don’t want to shock the tire and leave with much more rpm than the street as the track should have much more grip to it. "
3. Car Upgrades for the drag strip:
"Suspension and tires. All the power in the world will do nothing if you don’t have traction. So upgrade your rear suspension and get a good sticky rear tire. Nothing is more frustrating than spending your money to make 800hp but then not having the ability to put that power to the ground."
A great base will be our famed Steeda "Stop The Hop Pack" which features not only on the Silver Bullet but also Lund Racings record breaking FI S550 Mustang, and indeed two of the top 4 cars in the UK's Santa Pod "Run What Ya Brung" Championship, including the overall winner! However we asked Scott if he had to really just pick a couple of mods for a base car, what would they be....
"You definitely want the vertical links and toe links with the IRS braces. Drag springs will help with the weight transfer and that will aid in traction."
If you get to the strip carrying a set of spare wheels wearing drag slicks we think its safe to say you are starting to take things seriously which leads to question 4....
4. Let's Get Serious!
OK so you decided you want to start breaking records and laying down some serious times. We can certainly help you with that. Come to us and let us give you advice and upgrade to more hardcore, more specialised parts to help you keep knocking down those ET's...
"You have to look at what “can break” because it will when racing. Do you have upgraded axles, race wheels, ect. Biggest thing is have fun, and set a goal, then talk to professionals like those at Steeda on how to achieve those goals."
Want to see a world record breaking time slip? Here is the first ever S550 NA Mustang GT 9 second time! We marked it to help out too!
Finally we asked for Scott's overall summary:
"...have fun!! The drag strip is all about hanging out with fellow gear heads, smokin’ tires and going fast. So enjoy it and understand that unless you have a dedicated drag car, you’re out there to have fun. There are so many little things on a car like the Silver Bullet that add up to the whole picture."
Once you have hit the strip, make sure that your record your time on our European Drag Board. This way you can keep a reference point, and compare it with other people as well, and upgrade your times as you and your car progress!
And here is Scott with a reprise of his tips and more!