Over the weekend I was asked to help out in the drag strip’s tower as one of the workers had a relative who was seriously ill. They helped me try and learn the system with a crash course in it. Being in the tower gave me a new perspective of racing and made me appreciate more the hard job they have up there, especially working with the computer system they have.
One thing I noticed that is a big problem, is being able to read the car numbers and dial in’s. They sit approximately 80 feet from the line I’m guessing and trying to read shoe polish and people’s writing from that distance is a real challenge even with binoculars! Most regular racers do a good job, but there are some that are so bad, we have to ask the starter to tell us and that can hold up the race.
For those who do not race often, please understand how important it is that the tower be able to read your car number and dial in. It needs to be written on the top right side of your windshield and on the right side of your car, on the window if it’s a door car. They need to be written on the right side of a dragster and bike as well, not just on the windshield. The numbers need to be big enough, dark enough and legible. Some just slap on one coat of shoe polish for the night and it can’t be read from that distance. Please go over your numbers a few times with the polish and make sure it’s dark enough and written big enough. Using white or bright yellow or green polish is preferred over red and blue, especially at night. If you are using led lights, make sure they are turned up during the day and turned down a little at night.
If the numbers are put on the side of a dragster or bike they should be a contrasting color to the paint. Having numbers matching the color scheme of the car or written in script look real pretty, but they are extremely hard to see from the tower especially at night. Metallic numbers also are hard to read at night with the glare of the track lights.
Another issue are cars that have more than one car number on them. This is where a car may have more than one driver who has a permanent number. Make sure that the number(s) not being used are clearly marked out. You cannot see one swipe of shoe polish from the tower. Use a piece of black electrical tape or something that draws a line clearly through the number not being used so the tower knows which car number you want to use.
I have learned how important being able to read those numbers are and realize I need to make my car’s number bigger. Keep in mind, that if the people in the tower cannot read the numbers, they have to ask the starter to read it to them and that holds the cars up on the line as they have to enter the info then or re-enter incorrect info. That all takes time causing the hold up. So be considerate of those in the tower doing their best to get numbers right and remember to always check your dial in before you stage.