The Burnout As Ritual

Like a bull pawing at the dust, the burnout in drag racing is a warning, a siren, a beacon of the mayhem in the (very) near distance.  It is as ritualistic as any of the most hallowed traditions in sport…the pitcher throws down his resin bag…the Dawgs explode from the tunnel at Sanford Stadium…the matador draws his sword. There is a moment in our greatest sports that is a signal…it is time to let it go and leave nothing behind.  This is the burnout as ritual, and it tells us that the gladiators have entered the arena. The time is now.

Burnouts Help the Drag Racing Tire Get Traction

The burnout plays a critical role in preparing the race cars of today to race down the track at a high speed while ensuring that the car and driver are safe.  Burnouts are extremely popular among racing fans but they are essential to a successful day at the racetrack for participants. There are far more important reasons for a burnout than drawing a crowd. Executing a proper burnout can be the difference between victory and defeat on the racetrack. Just as drag racing tires must be properly maintained, burnouts assure that the tires synch up with any given track. However, before a burnout can be done, the car must drive into a light pool of water prior to engaging the throttle, causing the tires to spin as quickly as possible. This process removes unwanted material from the tire, and ensures that the rubber from the tire is removed as it rubs off onto the track surface. It is best if a driver positions his vehicle in this rubber before racing down the track, as doing so provides the best possible traction.

Burnouts Help Keep Car Tires Warm

Another function of the burnout is keeping the tires at an optimal temperature for the race. But according to Car and Driver, there is no set temperature for executing a burnout. Car And Driver states, “You could safely estimate the tread’s temperature at about 400 degrees following a burnout, but even that depends upon the length of the burnout.”  John Force, for example, prefers a long, hard burnout. Car and Driver also reveals that the temperature of the tires will go down abruptly between stopping the burnout and getting ready for a race.

How to Perform a Drag Racing Burnout

Executing a burnout depends on the type of drive available in your vehicle. Attempting to do a burnout in front wheel drive is ill-advised, as it can result adversely effect the drive train. However, a front wheel drive burnout can be done by pulling the emergency brake and stomping on the gas pedal. Executing a burnout in rear wheel  drive involves hitting the gas and break pedal at the exact same time. The brake pedal should be manipulated slowly. The purpose of this is to allow the rear tires to spin as the front wheels stay in place. Attempting a burnout in a regular vehicle may be entertaining, but burnouts should be left to professionals.

If a driver fails to properly execute this procedure, the tires can not maintain a grip on the track. As a result, the tires become stuck when the driver attempts his run down the track. If such a thing happens to a competitor during a race, they are helpless as the opponent cruises to an easy win.

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