​Ask the Racer – Staging

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Hi, this is Jeff Peterson. Today during our Ask the racer, I will be interviewing the owner of and racer for Uzbasic Motorsports Performance Parts. I’ll be asking him about an important stage during a drag race, which is staging the car.

So John, why is the topic of staging the car so important for new drag racers?

Well, Jeff, besides the obvious, you have to stage the car in order to get the race started. But again, it’s really more, it’s a lot more critical than you would think it would be right, just for the simple reason is because there’s a certain amount of etiquette involved in staging the vehicle where you’re going to do your job and the other competitor does his or her job, right? So staging is really in a lot of cases overlooked, but a really critical portion of, of the race.

So John, why is the topic of staging the car so for some other reasons?

Well, you know, for the simple reason is, it’s all about repetition. It’s understanding the process, and keeping the process going the same way, Time after time after time, right. So if you do something one time, it actually will throw you off if you try to change the process that you’re actually doing. And at times, it actually I get caught to do it in myself, if I change one step, within the many steps of staging, it throws me off at times where I cut a lousy light, I get distracted. So again, really critical. A lot of people overlook it. But there are those specific steps. And it’s all about practice and practice.

That makes a lot of sense. Now, here’s a little about the racer himself. 

What is your background with regard to staging your car?

Well, actually, I started racing back in 1984. So I don’t want to date myself, unfortunately. But I’ve been in, you know, racing for 37 years. And I don’t even want to fathom how many actual races or quarter or eighth miles I’ve been involved in, I got to believe it’s somewhere over about 1800 to 2000, at least minimum. So again, you know, just a few. But again, it goes back to doing the same and practicing right, yeah, but still, I still docar maintenance bonehead things at times that I just when I get back to the pits, besides, my crew chief is looking at me like what the hell, my wife and daughter looking at me like, what are you doing out there? Are you new at this? So unfortunately, it’s just one of those things that happened.

 But it’s, again, it’s always about the process, everything from what I bring the car into the water box area, to where I, I set my line lock to how long I do a burnout for literally how far I go the backup procedure, I mean, everything is orchestrated, and is the same time after time. 

New Racers

So for all the new racers out there, don’t expect to be perfect the first time, it’ll never happen, unless you get lucky. Just follow the steps, that’s all you’re going to have to do, you’re going to make mistakes, which is normal. But again, it’s all about doing it and doing it and doing it. So, most racers again, start out with, you know, your mother’s grocery getter, basically, and then they go up from there. So if you have a chance to go to the local track, it’s a perfect scenario, to use your regular just regular car and get that part down. Don’t worry about breaking records, or et records or speed records. Just get that process down and going in your mind how to do it. Then when you’re done come back, sit down and go through it in your mind again, and again. And again.

Now a lot of tracks have the Test and Tune correct?

That would be the test and Tune definitely and you know and there’s a lot of tracks that have on a Wednesday Test and Tune. They have a Friday night testing today. Normally when you’re at a you know at a division race, or at a points race or something like that, not a lot of that opportunity involved. So go to your local track on either as a Wednesday or a Friday. Some actually have Wednesday, Thursday and Friday where you can test them too. And just practice. Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

All right, then next question. Now for someone who’s getting started, what would you say to a new drag racer who is nervous about his first time staging a car? What would you say to put their mind at ease?

Jana working on the 37 ChevyWell, first of all, you’re not human, if you’re not nervous, anytime you do something, for the first 123 times, there’s a fear factor involved was, for me, it is for most of us, there are those folks that are just born with that talent, right? Where they just, it’s just like, you know, ducks to water. Other people like myself, unfortunately, have to go through the process. It’s all about the crawl, walk and run program, right? Nothing more, nothing less. So, again, don’t worry about what your buddy is going to say, don’t worry about what somebody’s thinking in the stands, don’t worry about nothing. 

Out to Impress?

You’re not out there to impress anybody, you’re just out there to learn and start honing your skill. You’re, you’re figuring out the task at hand, right? You’re not going for any championship, you’re not going for the quickest run on a track, you’re not even worrying about a launch time or a reaction time, get the process on how to stage the car, you know, you turn the first set of bulbs on free stage, you put the other set of bulbs on, which is a stage. 

And then depending on what you’re running most, you know, most sportsman classes, or, you know that type of class is a full tree, which is five tenths between each light, and then green, gold.

I’m thinking that there might be some big mistakes that new drag racers tend to make when staging their car.

What’s the biggest mistake that you have made with staging your car? And how can new drag racers learn from your experience?

Well, first of all, unfortunately, we don’t have a week to go through all of the mistakes that I’ve made. And then a third and seven years because nobody be watching this telecast any longer segment at all. But I’ll try to condense it. You know, again, when you first go up there a couple first couple three, four times, you have to think about the process, right? But when you go up there, remember, go up there with a purpose. I mean, you’ve already run it through your mind already, you’ve talked to probably other drive racers, you probably have gone on to the Internet, and looked at different articles about staging, racing, etc. So you’ve got to kind of a basic thought process of how this is supposed to look, right. 

So when you go up there, just get out there, you know, be courteous to the other driver. And for those who don’t know, courteous staging is when, like example, you may turn your top bulb on your competitor will turn his pre-stage on, then either one of you can go in and turn on the on the next stage light.

 But the point of it is, that don’t go in and turn both bulbs on at the same time. Because, again, you’re not impressing anybody, just do the task at hand, be courteous to your opponent, your competitor, right, because someday you’ll expect him to be or she to give you that same in return, right? The idea is go up there, turn first of bulb on, wait till he or she puts the next bulb on. So you’re already staged, and then they’ll bump in and lights will come down and we’ll be on our way. Having fun. 

Careful How You Roll

That’s one example. Second thing is don’t roll through the lights if you possibly can. So it’s important to use your foot brake and your gas, feather them. And the idea behind it is you turn the first of all on feather gas and brake, just keep nudging it a little bit. Even if you jerk no worries. Again, nobody is taping yet. And you ain’t going to be on Facebook or the news tonight, right? Just go up there. Bump in slowly, even if you’re hitting the brake, and you know, and the cars just jerking a little bit. 

That’s all right, to where you turn the second bulb on. A lot of new drivers, listen, happens to me too. At times, I get all hyped up. I’ll go through and turn the first bulb on. And then what I’ll do is I’ll actually roll through the first bulb and turn the top bulb off and leave the bottom bulb on, that in the world is called Deep staging. The idea is just supposed to be cutting down the length from the start to the finish line. No problem is your reaction time will get hurt by it to be cut down. 

I mean

But you sit theoretically you’re closer to your endpoint, if you don’t get the red bulb. But the problem with that is that it goes back to the courtesy stage and depending on what class you’re in, what type of ratio running sometimes they do not let you drop the top bulb. Other ones got no problem. But if you end up doing that, remember, if you roll through that last beam and all your lights go off. You’re Already, you’re disqualified. So initially, the simplest thing to do during top bulb on, inch in a little bit, turn the bottom bulb on, and just race your race.

drag racing

There you go. Alright, now let’s talk about some fears, obstacles and red flags to staging the car.

What would you say to a new drag racer who is afraid of looking stupid while staging his car?

Never, never. Don’t even worry about it. I mean, if somebody comes up to you and says, you’re stupid, you look dumb, figure out where you’re going to kick his ass at. Or, you know, because that’s ridiculous, because everybody was in the same place.

And if a person comes up to you and says, Hey, listen, man, I watched you, and you really oh man, you look stupid. Then you just ask a question, when was the last time you did this? And if they go, never just walk on away, man, no point even walking with him man.

Efficiency With Staging

So again, don’t worry what anybody else says. Do not, again, don’t worry, it is not a big thing. That’s how you’re going to work, practice, practice. And then when you’re done with that practice. All right, then, how can new drag racers increase their efficiency with staging their car? What’s your number one tip for being more efficient with staging the car and getting better results with less effort? Practice, I mean, it’s as simple as that. I mean, you’ve got to go out there. And you understand the task at hand. You keep becoming efficient at that task. And I’ll tell you, it depends on how far you want to go. If you really want to get into drag racing, and not just do it once in a while, because it looks like a cool thing to do. That’s where the self-reflection is critical. 

Every time I do a race, when I come back to the pits, I go over my staging process step by step by step, especially if I felt that there was a problem during the staging process, right? And then I go through the process of what the run was like, and, you know, the shutdown area and things like that. But I continuously try to analyze my knowledge and how I did it through the process. Because again, it’s all about repetition, right? Keep it the same. And again, it makes you actually feel better if you keep doing it the same. You’ll always get the same outcome.

Yep. All right, I got a random question for you. If a new drag racer gave you $100 gift card to Amazon, what would you buy to help you with your staging the car results?

$100 gift certificate? Whoa, damn. That’s, that’s pretty cool. What would I recommend? Or what would I buy with that? Right? Well, first of all, you can’t buy experience, right? So there’s no way that you can buy that. The only thing that brings experience comes out of the practice; you’ve got to get on the track. You got to get your mom’s car or your daddy’s car, go to the track with their blessing, obviously. Don’t be stealing their car. Go to the track. And practice. It’s a controlled environment. They got Safety Safari people there. So that if anything does happen, you know, no street racing, no crazy things like that. 

Plus, they don’t have a tree on the street race in any way. Yeah, right. So again, go to your local track, and run as many times as you can, like I said, during Test and Tune, a lot of times, I’ll see the street guys just hot laughing. And I talked to a couple of the street guys, and they go, yeah, we’re on like our 11th run, providing there’s no issues with oil downs or anything like that. They just keep going round and round and round in circles. Plus, it’s great fun. Yeah. But you get to understand staging and how it works. Oh, and by the way, with $100. What I would do is I would definitely go to Uzbasic Motorsports Performance Parts. Amazon’s sells them to, I’m not gonna say they don’t. But look for practice trees. 

Practice Trees

They are little electronic practice trees that will help hone your reaction time based on the whites. It’s either if you’re running a pro tree or a full tree, great thing. They’re a little more than 100 bucks, but they’re fantastic. Because once you get past the actual understanding the staging process, then you’re going to get into the reaction time. How fast can I react with I see that yellow light go off.

How about some closing thoughts here?

Do you have any final thoughts, next steps, or a final word of caution for our new drag racers audience?

Staging and burnout

You know, not that I haven’t already beaten to death already in this interview, right? Practice, the experience, doing it. Repetition with it. Also never hurts, ask fellow racers. Yeah, I don’t care who they are. I don’t care if they have a pro mod. Ask them what they do. They very rarely will they give you a snob answer or, they always want to talk to you about what they love to do. 

So, ask other racers Go on, like I said, on the internet, read about different articles of staging. You can pick up a whole bunch more things that I’m explaining to you, because I’m putting in a nutshell, if you will, they really get into the technology of the technical aspect of staging, more in depth, than we would, right? Not that we couldn’t, but again, take some time to go into that. Yeah, but again, it’s all about just doing this work.

Where can new drag racers find out more about you and how you can help them with their staging the car efforts?

Well, Jeff, that’s really simple. Everybody. Go to UzbasicMotorsports.com. And now you’ll see our website, go to the blog, click on blog, and once there, it’ll give you a plethora of different opportunities and options for you to look at everything from the part of the day that we do, we do a new part of the day, every Monday and Friday, we have Ask the Racer questions, and so on and so forth every Wednesday, not to mention, we have a lot of how to videos, we have some videos on building containers for roller rockers for push rods that we do during the offseason to keep them oiled up clean and secure. Just a whole bunch of cool things. But also, in the blog we have put in recently. 

In fact, you have which I appreciate very much that a very good article about staging, but also understanding your comfort zone when you’re racing the car. And also, just the nuts and bolts of drag racing, right? And what to look for and what not to look for. Because there’s a lot of different things that go into this. People just saying, hey, just hit the gas. Go straight. You’re in business. Anybody can do it? Well, yeah, maybe anybody can do it. But not everybody can do it good. Yeah, that’s the big difference. 

So, go to UzbasicMotorsports.com. Listen, while you’re there. Sorry, I apologize. But I gotta throw this out. While you’re there, subscribe. Cuz one thing we do, at Uzbasic Motorsports, we appreciate you checking out the site, we appreciate all the parts you buy from us. So, we do is we want to give back. 

Gift Certificate

So, every month we are either going to do a gift certificate, or multiple gift certificates. Some great swag, like this freakin hat, one of many colors that it comes in awesome stuff, but other stuff also that that you can win. As long as you subscribe. You just go there, the little box pops up. You just put your email in there. Hit join, and bang, you’re in there and then we send you newsletters monthly, newsletters are awesome. Usually at first. I did my first newsletter last month this month. Yeah. frickin awesome. Yeah, it’s beautiful. 

Hey, listen, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once. So listen, if you guys thought that was excellent. Don’t expect that all the time. Right. But anyway, we’re gonna try but a lot of good things, new parts that come out discounted prices, and cool things about the blog are in there also so don’t miss the opportunity.

This here is John Uzbasic. And I’m Jeff Peterson. Thank you for joining us at Uzbasic Motorsports Performance Parts.

If you like the Ask the Racer posts, here is one that you might like. Also, here is one on Goodbye to GT racing?

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