Tips for Drag Racing Your Turbo Regal
Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!
Ken Mosher -
Dave Loney -
Ken's car doing a burnoutThis article is meant to be a general guide for beginning Turbo Regal racers on how to get the most out of their current combination at the track. These methods, and instructions will work for most combinations. This is NOT an all inclusive or definitive list of methods or techniques, but a generalized list of things that you should think of if you want to race your street driven Turbo Regal.
Before you head to the track, make sure you have everything you need. Here is a list that should cover most of the big items, of course you will need general tools, etc. to complete these tasks while at the track. The more prepared the better your chances for handling anything that comes up (or goes down!)

Race Fuel

Either leaded or unleaded, a must for running seriously with any Turbo Regal. It's simple, the better the fuel, the faster you can run (more boost, less detonation, etc.) Not to mention it smells great! Don't go to the track with your pants down, be ready to run quick and go fast!

Be sure to have at least a 1/4 tank (preferably a 1/2 tank) of gas in the car when you stage! Otherwise, you can run into fuel starvation problems on the launch when the fuel sloshes to the back of the tank.

Fuel rail drain hose

Most guys can't afford to run racing gas on the street, and if you have any drive at all to the track, you will want to drain your fuel, and put in the race gas once your in the gate. A 4 or 5' length of 3/8" clear hose works fine for this purpose. It will slip on to the end of the fuel rail (always use a clamp!)

Run the fuel pump to empty the tank, by using an insulated wire to jumper between the GRAY test connector (in the wiring harness up by the alternator) and the HOT terminal on the back of the alternator. By using the clear hose, you can look for bubbles in the output from the fuel rail to tell when the tank is getting down to the last drop. Don't run the tank 100% dry, since the pump may cavitate enough to damage it.

Slicks or Sticky DOTs

Another must have item. To run quick and fast, you need to be able to launch hard! You simply cannot do that consistently on a stock radial. When you've got race fuel, good air, and the car tuned just right, you don't want to waste it all by going up in smoke.

For stock geared cars well into the 11s, it is often best to run a 26" tall tire. The Mickey Thompson 10"x26"x15" tall slick is good for very low 12 and faster cars. A mid/high 12 car can get away with the 8.5"x26"x15" M/T. 28" tall tires can be used, but can kill the launch in a mid 12 or slower car.

Hoosier and BFG both make some excellent DOT rated sticky tires as well. See the FAQ for more discussion of tires.

Paper clip

A paper clip? Well, I know there is controversy on this subject, I can only speak from experience. Locking up the torque converter has always been worth a solid 2 tenths (YES, TWO TENTHS FROM A PAPER CLIP!) at the track. Some say breakage can occur, which comes from the fact that you are working the Torque Converter Clutch (TCC) on the shifts by locking it up at WOT. This can eventually burn out the clutches, but at the typical "Recipe Car" level, the stock converter will take this treatment for several hundred runs.

Open exhaust vs. Closed exhaust

This is another controversial item. A lot of people are going very fast (well into the 10s) through full exhaust. While Dave thinks this is really cool, he likes to be able to hear his car during the run. When he has run with mufflers, his performance has always dropped (at least a 10th) and he finds that he tends to over-rev the car on the burnout, during shifts, etc.

Ken, on the other hand, prefers a premium high flow exhaust system. It can work every bit as good as open exhaust and is a great for the stealth approach. Nobody ever expects these performance levels out of a quiet car!


Remember your favorite Race Chip to take advantage of the better fuel and higher boost levels. Be sure to unplug the orange wire up by the battery to power down the ECM before changing chips. Also, touch something metal before handling the chips to avoid a static charge zapping your chip or ECM.

Scan Tool

Be sure to monitor your runs! Without a scan tool, all you can do is guess at what the car is needing and it will take more runs to dial it in and get maximum performance. It may take several trips to the track to get a feeling for the way fuel pressure, boost, chips, and air interact. Data from your runs and careful logging of track conditions, air conditions, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, etc. in a spiral notebook is recommended. That way you can relate accurate information to others to help you tune.

At the Track
Lawrence Conley's "Tweaked"
When you get to the track, get all your work done quickly, and get to the staging lanes to let your car cool off or let the car cool off in the pits. If you can get to the burnout box with the coolant temperature at 140 or 150 degrees, you should be doing fine. Be sure that the thermostat has cycled at least once (usually a cold car will have the coolant temperature shoot up to 170 degrees or so and then drop down and stabilize after the thermostat opens).


(this is just a guideline, every circumstance is different)


Left : 6-11 PSI Right : 11-22 PSI Note: Try to adjust to get the car to leave level.

Tire Pressure:

Slicks: 12-14 PSI Note: Look for an even pattern on the surface of the tire.
DOTs: 13-18 PSI


20-25PSI (as much as your fuel, and intercooler can handle)

Remember, your stock turbo can be set up to provide 25PSI or more. This kind of boost will create a great deal of heat, stress, and WILL blow head gaskets if you aren't running a low timing chip and everything is absolutely perfect. Unless you really know your combination and have everything tuned for high boost stay down in the 20-22PSI area.

Fuel Pressure:

42-60PSI This will depend on the fuel system you have, and the injectors you are running, as well as air conditions. Generally the larger the injector, the less fuel pressure you have to run. This is where a Scan Tool is invaluable.

General Tips
  1. HAVE FUN! Don't worry too much about being an amateur ... everyone had to start somewhere, and if they aren't willing to help and would rather laugh at you, then they probably aren't worth messing with!
  2. You need to have a helmet, Snell 85 or DOT approved. It depends on the track regs, but most require a helmet to go faster than 13.99.
  3. To optimize your launches, you'll need to "power brake" the car to spool the turbo and stabilize the launch RPM. To "power brake" is simple. Just stand on the brake with your left foot and bring the RPM up with the throttle (your right foot). Do this to bring the Turbo up on boost ("spooling"). This will build heat in the tranny, but won't really hurt anything, since you will only be doing this for a couple of seconds. It's not really any different from pulling a load up a hill.


  1. Track procedures can vary a bit from place to place, but here's some basic terms and definitions:

    Staging Lanes -

    this is where they line up the cars before allowing them onto the track. A lot of tracks call you up in numbered lanes, based on the class you race in. You want to be in a "trophy" class if your track has one until you get the feel of your car and comfortable with the whole drag racing scene. This is a cheaper entry fee and usually doesn't have a bunch of weekend warriors with delay boxes and serious experience, as in the "bracket" classes (sometimes called "E.T.").
    Burnout Box -
    this is the area just before the starting line that is wet with water to allow for burnouts. STAY OUT OF THIS IF YOU HAVE TREADED STREET TIRES! Street tires will just track water up to the starting line, making it dangerous for any cars with slicks that follow. Some tracks will warn a street tired car once for this (everyone makes mistakes) and then they kick them out. (Some allow M &Hs in the box, go figure) If you have street tires, pull around the box and wait for the starter to motion you up to the line.
    If you have slicks, either pull around and back into the water or pull very slowly through the water until the back tires are just ahead of the box. Try to make sure that the ground you are on is wet, but be sure you are not in a puddle! If you are in a puddle, when your tires start to spin they can spray water into your fenderwell, and when you go to launch, the water is dripping onto your tires causing a severe loss of traction.
    WAIT until track personnel signal you to do your burnout. If you have a line lock (highly recommend), push the brake pedal firmly, engage the line lock, let off the brake and bring the car up on boost to spin the tires. Watch your mirrors to ensure both tires are heated. Disengage the line lock and pull forward.
    PreStaged -
    now pull forward slowly into the starting area. There are two rows of yellow bulbs on the "tree". The first row indicates prestaged and are lit when your tires cross the first staging beam. You should check that you are ready to go, bring the RPM up a bit with your foot on the brake and then inch forward SLOWLY.
    Staged -
    the second row of lights will light when you edge into the second beam. This occurs in 8-12" at most tracks, so be careful. This indicates you are ready to go. With your foot on the brake, "power brake" the car until it feels like it wants to push through the lights (I think that an indicated 8-9 pounds on the boost guage would be plenty for starters). Try to time this with your competitor's staging. When both competitors have the second row lit, the starter will start the tree. Leave when you see the last yellow light, if you wait for the green, you will be late!

    Watch for a little bit, you will see how they run the starting line procedures. You may want to walk the length of the track (from the spectator side, obviously!) to note where the turn off road is, where the timing shack is, how long the shutdown area is, etc.

  2. Just leave the car in "Drive" and do the ol' "Stab and Steer"! Fool around with shifting and fancy footwork after you've become accustomed to the track procedures.
  3. Usually somewhere on the return road there is a timing shack where you pick up your timing slip. Don't forget this! That's part of the fun!
  4. Don't hesitate to ask track personnel or other racers, if you have a question. Generally, most racers are a friendly bunch and are glad to help, as long as you aren't interferring with them getting ready for the next round.
  5. Nothing special in the way of fluids needs to be done...just make sure all fluids are full and not in need of changing.

It's not that tough and it is a lot of fun. Just be sure to ask and use some common sense and you'll have a blast!

After the Run
As always, the number one consideration is to control the car and be aware of track conditions, the competitor in the other lane and track personel. Once on the return road, you can pull the hood latch to let a little more air into the engine compartment. If you have a fan switch, turn it on now.

You can also turn on the heat full blast, and drive carefully back to the staging lanes (so as not to load the motor and get it hotter).

When you get back into the pits or the staging lanes, open the hood and let the car idle for a minute or two. You want to get the car cooled down to a coolant temperature of 140 or so, before making the next run.

Make sure you study your time-slip, and scan tool data. Make a conscious effort to remember the run:

  • Could you have done anything differently?
  • Did you launch with enough boost? Too much?
  • Was the turbo slow to spool?
  • Did your car surge or sputter on the run?
  • What was your boost across the line?
  • Did the car make any unusual moves or did you hear any noises?
  • How did the car feel on the shift?
  • Was there wheel spin?
  • What were the O2 volts in the scan tool data? Too rich? Too lean? Was it running out of fuel on the top end?
  • Did the TPS stay steady during the run? Or did you unconsciously lift?
  • How much retard did you get on the run?
  • Did you experience boost creep?
  • What were the shift points?

From here you will need to decide where to go with your adjustments. More fuel? Less fuel? More boost? This is where your knowledge of what the different sensors are telling you pays off.

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