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How To Design And Build A Dragstrip

Source: Evo Research Department
Date: April 23, 2012
Revision Date: N/A

How To Design And Build A DragstripEvo Street Racers often receives questions on how to design and build a dragstrip (a.k.a. dragway, drag strip, drag-strip). At a minimum a paved dragstrip must have either an 1/8 mile or 1/4 mile racing surface with a 1/2 mile shutdown area composed of two lanes, retaining walls, a timing system, and a parking area (pits) (Dirt and sand dragstrip's may have a different distance for the racing surface and shutdown distance.).

Should a facility request to be sanctioned by a drag racing association the requirements become more strict. The major drag racing associations, International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) and National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), offer two options, a division track and a national track status. Most dragstrip's are a divisional track with only a handful of tracks receiving the elite status of a national track. For tracks that receive the honor of a national track they are expected to be built to the highest standards.

Our partners at Top Speed Motorplex published the first independent, publicly-released study on the realistic creation of a Motorplex from the acquisition of the land to assigning of pay plans to the employees in 2005.  Included in this study was a dragstrip, oval track, and road course. Below you will find the specification and requirements of designing and building a dragstrip for both the IHRA and NHRA.

Requirement IHRA - National NHRA Top Speed Motorplex Inc.
Facility Size (Dependent on Layout)
200 - 300 Usable Acres
Min 100 Acres 
138 Acres +
Width (Recommended)
60'
60' (58' + 1' Walls)
60' (58' + 1' Walls)
Width (Minimum)
60'
60'
60' (58' + 1' Walls)
Length (Minimum) Start-Finish
4000'
4000'
4904'
Length (Recommended) Start-Finish
4500'
3960'
4904'
Run Off (Recommended)
200'
Not Specified
278' 
Run Off (Surface)
Sand
Not Specified
Gravel
Turn Off Gates (1st Used For Emergencies)
Not Specified
300 Beyond 1/4 mile
301
Turn Off Gates (For Racers)
Not Specified
1320 Beyond 1/4 mile
1321
Turn Off Gates (Amount)
Not Specified
3
3 + 1 At The End
Concrete Launch Pads (At Starting Line - Min)
300'
330' 
1320'
Concrete Launch Pads (At Starting Line - Rec)
750'
660' (1/8 mile)
1320'
Burnout Box (Location)
Not Specified
90' Behind Starting Line
105' Behind Starting Line
Burnout Box (Size)
Not Specified
Not Specified
10'x6'
Christmas Tree (Location)
Not Specified
42' In Front Of Starting Line - 20' ?? 
41'8"
Retaining Walls Start-Finish (Width)
Not Specified
1' 
1'
Retaining Walls Start-Finish (Height)
28" - 1000 ft / 38" To the End
Not Specified
28" - 1000 ft / 38" To the End
Retaining Walls Start-Finish
Concrete Wall - Double Stack Guardrail
Highway Type
Concrete Wall
Retaining Walls Start-Finish
Adjacent To Track - No Openings
Not Specified
Adjacent To Track - No Openings
Guardrail Posts (Max Distance)
12'6"
Not Specified
12'
Guardrail Posts (Center)
6'3"
Not Specified
6'
Guardrail Posts (Max Gap - Under)
2"
Not Specified
1"
Staging Lanes (Minimum - Amount)
8 Lanes
6 - 10 Lanes
7 Lanes
Staging Lanes (Minimum - Length)
300'
200'
500'
Staging Lanes (Minimum - Width)
Not Specified
10'
9'6" Width + 6" Painted Lines
Crowd Control Fence (Location)
Pits - Track - Return Road
Pits - Track - Return Road
Pits - Track - Return Road
Crowd Control Fence (Location)
Not Specified
60' - 80' From Track Minimum
Crowd Control Fence (Location - Burnout - 1/8)
25'
Not Specified
25'2" 
Crowd Control Fence (Location - 1/8 - Shutdown From Retaining Walls)
50'
Not Specified
50'
Crowd Control Fence (Minimum - Height)
4'
Not Specified
4'
Perimeter Pit Fencing (Fans & Racers)
Recommended
Not Specified
Installed
Racing Surface (Desired)
+ / - 1/10"
Less Then 1% Grade Change
+ / - 1/10"
Grand Stands (Minimum - Spectators)
10,000 (State Approved)
Not Specified
30,396 State & Federal Approved
Grand Stands (Recommended Angle)
Not Specified
10 Degrees
10 Degrees
Grand Stands (Recommended Height)
Elevated Above Guardrails
Elevated Above Guardrails
4'
Pit Area (Racing Rigs)
800
600
791
Pit Area (Bathroom)
Not Specified
2 (One having Showers)
7 (One has Showers)
Pit Area (Minimum Racing Rigs - Paved Parking)
200 out of 800 (5 Acres)
Not Specified
Fully Paved
Pit Roads (Width)
30'
Not Specified
40' 
Concession Stands / Restrooms
Meet Health Departments Specs
Main One Behind Grandstands
Meet Health - Inside Grand Stands
Timing Tower / Control Tower
Meet the needs of Operations
2-3 Floors (Min)
Meets Operations Needs - 3 Levels
Timing Tower - (Angle to The Track)
Not Specified
70 Degrees (Jet Cars)
0 Degrees- Raised Platform
Timing Tower - Press Room
Suggested
Not Specified
In Tower
Timing Tower - Elevation 
Not Specified
Minimum 15' 
60'
Timing Tower - Working Area
Not Specified
Minimum 12' x 10'
60' x 18'5"
Timing System
Compulink
Not Specified
Compulink
Fire Equipment (Minimum In Pounds)
50 lbs
Not Specified
250lbs
Fire Crew
Personal Trained Must Be Present
Not Specified
1 In House & Leesburg Fire Dept
Ambulance (Minimum - Amount)
1
Not Specified
1 In House & Leesburg EMT's
Lighting
Track, Parking, Pits, Staging Lanes
Not Specified
Track, Parking, Pits, Staging Lanes
Lighting (First 1320) Distance Between 
Not Specified
150'
150'
Lighting (Shutdown) Distance Between 
Not Specified
200'
200'
Lighting (Type)
Not Specified
3x - 1000 Watt - 480 Volt - Metal Halide
3x - 1000 Watt - 480 Volt - Metal Halide
Lighting Height of Poles
Not Specified
60' 
70' 
TV Production Truck Hospitality (Minimum)
1 - 220 Volt, 220 Amp Power
Not Specified
4 - 220 Volt, 220 Amp Power
Telephone Hook ups (Minimum)
25
Not Specified
75
Telephone Hook ups (Requirements)
50
Not Specified
75
ET Booth (Location)
Return Road - Adjacent To Shutdown
Not Specified
Return Road - Adjacent To Shutdown
Scales
Return Road - Adjacent To Shutdown
Not Specified
Return Road - Adjacent To Shutdown
Impound Area (Inspect Vehicles)
Required
Not Specified
Return Road - Adjacent To Shutdown
Premium Parking for Guests and Sponsors
Required
Not Specified
Adjacent To Handicap Parking
Manufacturers Midway (Display Products)
Required
Not Specified
Yes
Fuel Center
Recommended
Recommended (Nearby Staging Lanes)
Return Road - Nearby Staging Lanes
Compressed Air
Not Specified
Recommended (Away From Fuel Center)
3 Locations on East Side of Paddock
Scoreboards (Elapse Time & MPH of Each Lane)
Required
Daktroniks LED
Daktronics DR-4883-36-11
Public Address System
Required
Not Specified
Installed
Race Track Surface 1st Layer (Lowest)
Not Specified
14" Lime
14" Lime
Race Track Surface 2nd Layer
Not Specified
10" Soil Cement
10" Soil Cement
Race Track Surface 3rd Layer (First 1/8)
???" Concrete
9" Concrete 5000psi Minimum
9" Concrete 7500psi Minimum
Race Track Surface 3rd Layer (1/8 to Shutdown)
Not Specified
3" Polymer Asphalt Mix
3" Polymer Asphalt Mix
Track Direction 
Not Specified
West - East
West - East
Return Road (Width - Minimum)
Not Specified
24" Wide + 12' For Time Slip = 36'
24 Wide + 12'6" Express Lane 
Return Road (Width - Minimum)
Not Specified
20' Minimum
24 Wide 
Return Road (Distance From Barrier - Minimum)
Not Specified
100'
167'10"
Return Road (Protection)
Not Specified
Not Specified
Concrete Retaining Wall - With Fence
Parking Area (Patrons - Minimum)
Not Specified
2000 Spaces 
A: 3031 B: 5733 C: 20000+
Pull Boxes
Not Specified
25' - 30'

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