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The Starting Line : How does reaction time affect a run’s ET? 

Motorcycle Drag racing Sportsman

The Starting Line is a biweekly column for our Sportsman drag racers. Every other week we will feature a frequently asked question and have it answered by a panel of experienced sportsman racers, led by Ben Knight. Having questions answered by multiple racers will give our new racers several perspectives on the information they want. If you have a sportsman related question, submit it to editor@dragbike.com.

How does reaction time affect a run’s ET?

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Ben Knight

Your reaction time has absolutely, positively, ZERO affect on your Elapsed Time (ET). Your ET does not start in the timing system until the second beam (stage beam) can make a connection.  This will not occur until your front tire has exited the second beam (stage beam); when this beam makes a connection the timers start.  

The time it takes your front wheel to leave the stage beam in correlation to the green light is how you’re reaction time is figured.  

So if you’re just starting out and learning your bike I always advise people to completely forget about “reaction time” and just leave when you’re ready.  You can literally sit at the line for 3-4 seconds after the green light comes on and your ET will be no different than if you cut a .008 light.

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Jerry Turner


Technically speaking, reaction time doesn’t affect ET.  ET is the time it takes your bike to move from the starting line to the finish line.  Reaction is the time that it takes from green light until your bike leaves the starting line.  Adding those 2 numbers is commonly known as your package for that run.  Sometimes you see racers stage closer to the starting beam (deep staging) to get a faster reaction.  This will normally slow down your ET slightly because the bike has less “running start” before it leaves the starting line.

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Janie Palm



It doesn’t, E.T. is Elapsed Time, the time when you leave the starting line until you hit the finish line.  You could sit at the line for a minute without leaving the staging lights and still run the exact same ET as if you left on a perfect light.



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Bob Carlson

Your own person time it takes you to react to the tree, does not effect your ET.  The ET clock does not start until the front wheel rolls to the starting point (aka starting line).  However where you stage does effect your ET.  What does that mean? When you roll in from pre-staged to staged slowly, and stop as soon as stage lite comes on, that’s called shallow staging. When you shallow staged you are actually about 8″ or so away from the ET clocks starting point.  When you keep rolling in after your staged light is on, you get closer to the starting point.  The closer you get to the starting point, the better your reaction time is cause the distance is shorter to the starting point. Now the farther you are from the starting point (shallow staged), your Reaction is slower, but because you can get a longer rolling start before the starting point, your ET will be better.  Simply if your going for quick ET, stage shallow.  If you want to improve your reaction time, roll in farther, get closer to the starting point.  But remember the time it takes you personally to react to the tree, will not effect your ET, only where you stage effects your ET.  So you can’t blame a slow ET on a bad reaction time.  But you can blame a slow ET & good reaction time.  Simple right?

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Greg Mallett



The reaction time does not affect the ET, but where you stage certainly can affect the ET. If you stage shallow you will have a running start before the timer begins thus giving you a lower ET.



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We’ll see you in two weeks for another edition of the Starting Line.

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