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Thread: Drag Boat Racing Lights

  1. #1
    How do the lights in boat racing differ from the lights in car racing. Ive been to the boat drags once in Marble Falls and i did not fully understand how the lights work. Am i correct in that the light turns green and the boat leaves the rope and gets a running start? Im reading the other thread about red lighting and it sparked my interest.

  2. #2
    Ken F
    Not quite right. The idea is to leave the rope exactly at the right instant so that you cross the line AT the lights just as it turns green- not before!
    If you cross the lights before it turns green, you've jumped the gun thus causing a redlight. if you have ever stood behind the boats as they leave, you will also have noticed a digital number system which counts down from 10 to 1. Each boat will travel from the rope to the lights in a slightly different amount of time, so one driver may leave on a 6.5 and his compitition may leave on a 5.5 as an example.
    Ken F

  3. #3
    Maybe this will help. This is from the SDBA Rulebook.
    As additional info, Kenf is correct except that, once the countdown starts, ours goes from "9" to "0" in 4.5 seconds.
    You can leave the rope at any time after yellow lights begin, but you cannot break the starting beam (125' from the holding rope and at a point between the floating clock and the rope) until the clock hits zero.
    S t a r t i n g P r o c e d u r e s
    Point of View
    All references herein shall be as seen by a driver sitting in a boat at the starting line holding rope.
    Holding Rope
    The starting line holding rope shall be located one hundred twenty-five (125) feet in front of the starting line.
    Reaction Timers
    Reaction timers will be an integral part of the official starting system. In the unlikely event of a system malfunction which causes the foul start light to work improperly, the reaction times may be used to determine foul starts. Reaction times for each competitor shall be posted at the timing tower along with the E.T. and M.P.H. for each run.
    Starting Clock
    All race courses will use the official starting clock and timing system furnished by the sanctioning division. The lights on the right side of the clock will represent the right lane, and those on the left side, the left lane. The lights for each lane shall be situated vertically, commencing with red at the top, amber in the center, and green at the bottom.
    Starting Clock Definitions
    Each of the following definitions of starting clock light functions apply to either lane:
    Solid Red Lights - Course Closed! - Drivers must come to an immediate stop. Do not proceed any further until so instructed by the Starter. Failure to heed the red lights is grounds for disqualification (determination to be made at the discretion of the Starter).
    Blinking/Solid Amber Light - This indicates to the driver that the starting clock countdown is imminent. Watch the clock closely!
    Solid Green Light - Indicates a legal start. GO!
    Solid Red Light - Indicates that a foul start has occurred in that particular lane. The boat in the lane displaying the solid red light has broken the starting line light sensor beam prior to receiving a green light.
    Starting Sequence (Divisions 2 and 3)
    Course red lights are on.
    Starter will notify the next driver (using his boat number) to watch the lights.
    Course red lights are turned off, and the amber lights will begin flashing for thirty (30) seconds, at which time each driver may commence his starting procedure.
    After the amber lights have flashed for thirty (30) seconds, they will go solid for five (5) seconds. This will be a warning that the countdown is about to begin.
    After the five (5) second warning, the solid amber lights will go out and the countdown will begin. The countdown will start at "9" and will count down to "1." When the "1" goes out, the green light(s) will come on. Should a boat cross the starting line before the green light comes on, a flashing red light will light, indicating that a foul start has occurred in that lane.
    After displaying either a solid green or flashing red light, the lights will go out a minimum of five (5) seconds after the lead boat has crossed the starting line, and the lights will go "red" to await the next starting sequence.

  4. #4
    Understood. So in the case of a jet boat that need to load the pump, they use launch controllers to load the pump before they really get on the gas? I guess its a trial and error thing to set the launch controller to get the boat to leave right then figure out what number on the clock to leave at?

  5. #5
    I don't use a launch controller.....don't need to! When I start, I open the bucket until I feel it load and the close the bucket.....Whack the throttle at "..." and away we go!

  6. #6
    You close your bucket then take off?

  7. #7
    So is the course a qurater mile from the rope to the finish or from the starting lights to the finish?

  8. #8
    Understood. So in the case of a jet boat that need to load the pump, they use launch controllers to load the pump before they really get on the gas? I guess its a trial and error thing to set the launch controller to get the boat to leave right then figure out what number on the clock to leave at?
    the rope is "supposed" to be 100-120' behind the starting line. it "looks" shorter or longer depending on where you are (what track, org, etc.), but afterawhile, worrying about whether it's 10' different is overly anal and not worth thinking about. in the "old daze", the rope was "at least 200' or more behind the starting line.
    the starting line to the finish line is 1/4 mile.
    all "timing" systems work basically the same, in that you are given the call to start, a period of seconds to "load the pump", or whatever else your routine is, and then depending on the way the lights work, a sequence of numbers will appear to count backwards from 9 to 0. these numbers "generally" sequence down in half second intervals, pretty much on all systems (hint). from "practice" (trial and error lasts maybe two laps, practice lasts forever), you have picked a number to go through you're launch sequence and leave the rope generally under full throttle. could be 6, 7, 8, or something else. the objective is to trip the start line beam right after the light went green, hopefully somewhere in the vicinity of 0.10 +/- after it turned green.
    but, upon tripping that beam, no matter what your reaction time was, the 1/4 mile elapsed timer is initiated. you could go red by 2 seconds, green by a second; doesn't matter to the 1/4 mile timer.
    in most systems, if you red light (or red light worse than the other boat), the win light will be on for the boat in the other lane before you even get 200' down the track. if it's red, the light never does turn green - the race, for all intents and purposes, is OVER! however, when you get to the other end, you will have a timeslip that accurately gives you your 1/4 et/mph. when i go red, i always run through because i want the data from the run.
    i don't know what the sdba system looks like. the ihba system has two very large number boards, angled toward each lane which gives you a great view of the countdown lights. the yellow light blinks for 15-20 seconds, then goes solid for 5 at which time the rope is raised, and then the numbers begin to count down from 9.
    the njba system has one number board, mounted in between two sets of red/yellow/green street lights. the operation is the same, yellow blinks for 15-20 seconds, goes solid for 5, then the numbers begin to count down from 9. in either case, when the yellow starts to blink, you need to be starting up, and getting prepared to go.
    the cdba has a different system with two number boards (no yellow light), that count down from 30 to either 5 or 10 (can't quite remember) on 1 seconds intervals, then resets to either 10 or 9 and counts down on half second intervals. the countdown, rope/line distance, is the same, so it doesn't take too much to get used to it.
    from the other discussion, when you get there too soon and red light, the et timer doesn't care. these systems are going to time the boat from the starting line to the finish line, independent of r/t. you might be able to charge the starting line at a little more speed by pushing back from the rope as hard as you can, but red lighting is not going to alter your e/t one bit.
    people that go after records have to push the envelope real hard to get there. unless you've been there and done that, not too many people quite understand how hard it can be. there's a lot more to it than just buying pieces, bolting 'em in, and tossing it out there. people have gotten real hurt and worse chasing that goal.

  9. #9
    oh, an msd launch controller is a programmable rev limiter. and i do use one, but not to load the pump.

  10. #10
    Thanks Bob...very useful info. Much appreciated.

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