Drag racing is a form of auto racing in which cars or motorcycles attempt to complete a fairly short, straight and level course in the shortest amount of time, starting from a dead stop. Drag racing originated in the United States and is still the most popular there. more...
The most common distance is one quarter of a mile (1320ft/402m), although one-eighth of a mile (201 m) tracks are also popular. The dragstrip extends well beyond the finish line to allow cars to slow down and return to the pit area.
While usually thought of as an American and Canadian pastime, drag racing is also very popular in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Caribbean, England, Mexico, Greece, Malta, South Africa and most European and Scandinavian countries. At any given time there are over 325 drag strips operating world-wide.
The origins of the sport lie in illegal street racing in the United States. The format of the sport shows these origins: two cars line up next to each other, and await a green light as the signal to start, just as if they were sitting next to each other at a stoplight. The straight course mimics the straight streets of most American cities. By the 1930s, hot-rodders had begun to race away from the roads, on Southern California's dry lake beds, and by the late 1940s, attempts to codify the sport were underway. The first drag strip opened on a Santa Ana, California airfield in 1950.
Southern California was the hot bed for development of the sport in the 1950s as various clubs organized races. Hot Rod magazine and its editor, Wally Parks began to promote racing safety and standardization. The magazine sponsored national "Safety Safari" tours to spread drag racing to other parts of the country. The NHRA was founded as a national sanctioning body and Parks eventually left the magazine to head the organization.
Initially contests were between modified street vehicles, but over time racers got more innovative and classes proliferated to reflect the different approaches.
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