Bracket Racing which is also known as ET racing is a competitive drag racing sport that allows just about anyone with any kind of vehicle to competitively drag race against each other even if one car is inherently faster than the other and has quicker quarter mile times. Bracket racing tends to favor more consistent and reliable drag racing cars/drivers and doesn’t require fast cars to win.
Before the start of each race series the cars are divided up into classes depending on how the fast the cars are estimated to cover the quarter mile. Each driver is then allowed to race a few practice runs down the track to get an idea on how the car is performing with the given track and weather conditions. Using the practice runs, also know as time trials, each driver will estimate what their car will run in the quarter mile drag race and mark it on their rear window. This estimate is known as the car’s dial-in.
When both cars are staged at the starting line the dial-in numbers are posted to the track’s scoreboard for the drag racing fans to see. The car with the higher dial-in time will get a head start in the race. The amount of the head start is calculated by subtracting the lower dial-in time from the higher one. For example, if two cars are staged with 12.51 and 13.51 dial-in times, the car with the 13.51 dial-in will get the green light 1 second before the other car. This is essentially handicapping the cars to make the race more dependent on the driver and the car’s consistency rather than which car is actually faster.
The winners of bracket drag races are determined by which cars cross the end of the quarter mile finish line first, without running quicker quarter mile times than their dial-in times. If a car ends up running quicker than their dial-in time, it’s known as a breakout and that car automatically loses the race, unless both cars breakout. If both cars breakout then the car with the smallest difference between their actual run and their dial-in wins the race.
Bracket racing is heavily dependent on the driver’s reaction time at the start of the race and how consistent the car is with regards to launching and running down the quarter mile. Each driver is allowed to adjust the car’s dial-in time throughout the series of eliminations depending on the weather and how the car is performing. The bracket races continue until all competitors are eliminated and there is one winner for the each class.