HomeColumnsStarting LineThe Starting Line : Volume 1 - Issue 5

The Starting Line : Volume 1 – Issue 5

Motorcycle Drag racing Sportsman

The Starting Line is a biweekly column for our Sportsman drag racers brought to you by Schnitz Racing. 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.

What is rollout and how does it affect my ET?

Ben Knight
To understand rollout you first must understand how the timing system works. When you roll up to the starting line and light the pre stage bulbs you then have approximately 6 inches to roll forward before lighting the stage bulbs. If you stage shallow (just barely turn on the stage bulbs), then you’ll have approximately 11 ¾ inches to travel before you have “rolled” out of the stage beams. Until you have “left” the stage beam your ET does not start. So once you have rolled out of the beam the ET timers will then start. The time it takes you to leave the stage beam in relation to the green light is how your reaction time is determined. So, to sum it up, rollout is the distance it takes to “rollout” of the stage beam and start the timers. How does rollout affect your ET?…. If you just barely light the stage beams (stage shallow) then you’ll have the full distance of rollout (approx. 11 ¾ inches) to get moving before the ET is started, so you technically have a rolling start. When you shallow stage your reaction time takes longer (you have a longer distance to cover), but your ET is quicker (because you get a “rolling” start on the timers). When you light the stage bulb and roll in another few inches (deep staging) you have a shorter distance to travel before the ET is started. So you’ll then have a quicker reaction time (less distance to travel), but a slower ET (since you won’t have as much of a “rolling” start). Clear as mud, right?

Dustin Lee

Rollout is the distance from when your bike is in the beams and out of the beams. This is according to your tire which is breaking the beam which makes the light come on for stage and pre-stage bulbs. The timer does not start when you leave until the stage beam is unbroken which means when you drive out of the stage beam. This can and will affect your ET and reaction time. If your bike is barely in the stage beam when you do leave it will take it a little longer to roll out of the beam which will slow your reaction time but it will speed up your ET because you will have that little bit of speed built before you roll out of the beam. If you deep stage it will speed up your reaction because the distance coming out of the beam is shorter but it will slow your ET because you don’t have the small amount of a run and go at the track! Hope this helps good luck and be safe!

Jerry Turner

Rollout is how far the bike goes after you turn on the 2nd stage light. If you immediately stop, this is considered shallow staging. If you continue rolling forward then you are “going in deep”. Depending on the organization/track class rules, you may even be able to keep rolling forward until you turn off the top bulb which is deep staging. Much farther than that and you will turn on the red light. The deeper you go in, the quicker your bike will react. But, this will also slow down your elapsed time. Think about shallow staging as having a rolling start when you break the first beam versus not getting the rolling start when you roll in deep or deep stage. This could be a few hundredths of a second on your elapsed time. From experience, I suggest that whatever you do in your time runs, do in your eliminations. If you shallow stage on your time runs because reaction doesn’t matter but start pushing in deep in eliminations to get a better reaction, know that you’re slowing down your elapsed time on the run. On a final note to this question, please remember that not only can you red light by leaving too soon, you can red light if you’re too shallow and your bike creeps backwards or if you’re in too deep and your bike creeps forward. It’s a bad feeling when that happens.

Janie Palm

Most tracks have a rollout, or distance between the Pre-Stage and Stage beams, of 6-8″. If you move your motorcycle forward and immediately stop after the Staging Bulb comes on, you have “shallow staged” or you have barely entered the staging area. This will generally give you a longer reaction time but a faster E.T. and trap speed, because the motorcycle has more of a “running start” before the E.T. clock starts. If you continue to inch your motorcycle forward until you have almost left the staging area, you have “deep staged” or you are very close to the starting line. Deep staging will generally give you a shorter reaction time, but a slower E.T. and trap speed, because the motorcycle has virtually no running start before the E.T. clock starts.

We’ll see you in two weeks for another addition of the Starting Line, in the meantime check out our column sponsor Schnitz Racing.


Volume 1 – Issue 1 : What is the best advice for someone going down the track for the very first time?

Volume 1 – Issue 2 : How do I decide what class to enter? Most tracks have a street class and pro bike class but I sometimes see streetbikes racing in the pro bike class with the bar bikes.

Volume 1 – Issue 3 : What is the difference between a bracket class and an index class?

Volume 1 – Issue 4 : What is the difference between a pro tree and sportsman tree? And what is the best technique for cutting a light?

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