Drag Racing Cars – A Basic Guide

There are plenty of drag strips out there which allow you to try drag racing and burn down the ¼ mile in your very own drag racing machine. But how do you go about building a drag racing car by yourself? Well first, make sure that you choose to modify a car which has a huge aftermarket for its parts (’94 to ’05 Mustangs are good for this) as this will make your life a lot easier if anything should go wrong. Then, follow our steps below to get drag racing down the ¼ mile in your own beautiful beast!

How to Turn a Normal Car into a Drag Racer

Grippy tires

First things first, you need to get sticky tires which are going to stick to that ¼ mile drag strip and give you the traction you need. Many people recommend Mickey Thompson ET Street Radials for drag racing, as they are known for their handling and they are also road legal in the US, making them ideal for driving to races on the street legally.

High-performance suspension

Now that you’ve got grippy tires, you want to add even more traction by getting rid of the car’s stock suspension in favor of more high-performance suspension systems. If your car has leaf springs on the back, we would suggest CalTracs bars. On the other hand, if your car has coil-spring rear suspension and a factory four-link, we would recommend getting some high-quality aftermarket lower and upper control arms. If you’re planning on delivering some serious power with your drag racer, consider getting no-hop bars which alter the geometry of the car’s rear suspension.

Rebuilt engine

If you’re looking to turn your everyday car into a drag racer, it should go without saying that you need to look into some beefy engine rebuilding before you can even think about heading to the ¼ mile. Ideally, you need a good rebuild, aftermarket cylinder heads, and a midsize hydraulic roller cam to turn your run-of-the-mill V8 muscle car into a drag race phenomenon. When it comes to engine rebuilding, bear in mind that although cubic inches are good, they also guzzle gas, so you might want to look into cars with smaller engines which can be provided with additional power in the form of a blower, a turbo, or even nitrous.

You may even be able to get a car with a centrifugal supercharger, which could give you more of a power boost than an engine overhaul of the same price would anyway. For instance, spending $5000 on rebuilding a car’s intake, headers, cam, and heads is unlikely to yield more additional power on the drag strip than buying a good centrifugal supercharger for the same price will. Always make sure that the work you’re doing to a car’s engine makes sense financially – there’s no point putting in loads of work if an add-on power booster could solve your power problems in one fell swoop.

More Power

We’ve talked about power a few times already today, but guess what a drag race vehicle needs? More power! Installing a power-adder on your vehicle is very handy, especially if you want to be able to drive the car on the street as well as at drag racing events and whatnot. For example, if you’re using a power booster for drag race events, you can still run the car on the street with a lowish compression ratio which means that you can be economical by using 87-octane gas, assuming you don’t start accelerating like crazy on the highway!

If you’re new to the ¼ mile and the world of drag racing, we would recommend getting a small nitrous system for your vehicle, as this is a cheap and relatively simple way to boost your engine’s power for a certain stretch of time. Nitrous hits at 175 hp (or less) are generally considered to be safe for an engine, although do bear in mind that you will need to refill your nitrous bottles on your car, which is easy to forget about! Whatever power-adder you choose for your engine, you will require a stout fuel system which can handle these additional bursts of energy, so be sure to invest in a stout fuel system which is ideal for your drag racing vehicle on the ¼ mile!

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