When spectators see burnout at the start of a drag race, it can instill a sense of excitement for the race that is to come. While people who are not familiar with drag racing may see this practice as the racers showing off, it’s actually a pre-race ritual that is done out of necessity.
Unlike other racing sports that involve long courses, drag races are performed on short, straight courses that are generally a quarter of a mile long. Each race involves a racer going head-to-head with another driver. Since the track is short, a quick start and good traction are essential to winning the race. Burnout comes into play as a means to ensure that both of those elements are present.
Burnout helps warm up the tires for the race and create better traction for the tires on a specific racetrack. The skill with which the burnout is executed can determine whether the racer wins or loses.
To produce an effective burnout, racers will drive their car through a light pool of water. The racer then runs the tires as fast as possible. Doing this removes any unwanted material from the tire and leaves some rubber on the track. The driver will then start the race where the rubber was left on the track so he or she can have as much traction as possible from the get-go. However, if a driver doesn’t perform the burnout correctly, their vehicle’s tires can become stuck when they attempt to run down the track, giving their opponent an easy win.
How you perform a burnout depends on the type of drive your car has. While it’s not advised to do a burnout with a vehicle that has front-wheel drive, it is possible. You can do so by pulling the emergency brake while pushing on the gas pedal. If you want to do a burnout on a vehicle with rear-wheel drive, simply hit the gas and brake pedals at the same time.
Drag racers and their teams take special care of their vehicles and tires to make sure both are in the best condition for races and driving. As a result, regular drivers are advised not to try doing a burnout on regular vehicles, as this may cause irreparable damage to tires and other systems in the car. So, while it may be tempting to try this at home, it’s an activity best left to drag racing professionals.