Impromptu drag races
between friends is one of the more enjoyable things to do on an ATV. You
can do it on the trails, in the dunes and in the desert. While there is
no wrong way to race your buddies, there are proper ATV drag races
taking place all across the country.
Organized sand drag races
are 300-foot races controlled by lights known as a “Christmas tree” and a
computer. Just like the NHRA drags, a recording during every pass picks
up reaction times, elapsed times, speed, and who won and by how
much—down to the last millisecond! Don’t forget about “red lighting,”
which is when someone jumps the start. It’s tough to fight that battle
when you’re just racing on a back road somewhere.
On a smaller
scale, some organizations still do hill-shoot races, where the winner is
the first one to cross the flag at the top of the dune or end of the
straightaway. Not many of these are sanctioned-type races, though—just
weekend warriors or club-specific fun.
LINE THEM UP
there is not yet a nationally recognized sanctioning body that all ATV
drag racers use, their rules and class structure are pretty universal.
Depending on the amount of people showing up for a particular event, the
classes will range from engine size and possibly by engine type
(four-stroke or two-stroke). Organizers at larger events have been known
to break it down by brand and even model. Modifications to frame and/or
engine can also be a factor in what class you run at any given event.
types can also vary between head-to-head and bracket-style racing,
where racers pick a “dial-in” ET (elapsed time) from their time-trial
runs, which is entered into the computer. The computer then precisely
“times” the launch lights (delays one light) to benefit the slower racer
with an early green-launch light. If both racers complete the run on
their dial-ins, they should reach the finish line at the same instant.
Consistency is key here, not necessarily speed. Frequently these races
are won by just .001 of a second! A racer can go slower than his
dial-in, but he can’t go even a split second faster than his
dial-in. Going faster than your dial-in is called a “breakout” and an
automatic loss of the race.
Most races will begin with a day of
“test and tune” (T&T). T&T days are where everyone can make as
many computer-timed passes down the track as they want, so they can try
different tuning, gearing, tires, etc. and see the impact on their ETs.
Christmas tree has two rows of amber staging lights at the top. The top
row is pre-stage. When lit, it shows you are approaching the starting
line as you roll into it. When the next row of amber bulbs go on, the
racer is staged right at the starting-line laser beam. When both racers
have staged and lit both rows of amber staging lights, the starter will
randomly (but within two seconds) hit the start sequence, initiating the
Underneath the staging lights are three rows of larger
yellow bulbs on top of a row of green lights. Each light will light in
descending order toward the green light at intervals of .4 or .5
seconds, depending on the track (most use .4 seconds). Then the green go
light will light, and both racers launch. Under a pro tree, once the
racers have staged, all three amber start lights will flash
simultaneously with no intervals, and then the green light comes on. If a
racer jumps the start (leaves before the green light), the red light at
the bottom of the tree will come on indicating that the racer is
disqualified in the race. The win automatically goes to his opponent.
WHERE TO RUN
contributor, Gary “Gee” Armstrong, says possibly the biggest and best
event held is in conjunction with the Dune Fest in Winchester Bay,
Oregon, in late July. The Oregon Off-Road Racing Association builds the
track and runs the ATV sand drags at this popular off-road event put on
by the Chamber of Commerce. See www.dunefest.com.
draw is at the Oregon Sand Storm in Albany, Oregon. It’s an event with
quads, UTVs, cars, trucks and dragsters held every Labor Day weekend.
Check out www.facebook .com/pages/Albany-Sand-Drag. Plus, the Albany
Sand Drags has monthly races from May through October. See
www.albanymx.com. Also in Oregon, the Oregon Dunes Raceway at the Box
Car Dunes in North Bend, several events per year are held. For this
year’s schedule, log on to www.oregondunesraceway.com. Down in Southern
California, the big event is the BAKO sand drags in Bakersfield
California in early March. See www.facebook.com/bakosanddrags.
and other social media sites have allowed the world of ATV drag racing
to explode recently. Suddenly, cyberspace brought racers together
geographically to form relationships, exchange modification ideas, parts
and even advertise events. We can’t list every track, but we have put
together a list of some of the more popular ones. For events and tracks
in your area, search “sand drags,” along with your city, town or state
WARNING: Much of the action depicted in this magazine is potentially dangerous. Virtually all of the riders seen in our photos are experienced experts or professionals. Do not attempt to duplicate any stunts that are beyond your own capabilities. Always wear the appropriate safety gear. Copyright 2008 Hi-Torque Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Console Login