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Drag Racing Is A Game Of Distance For Local Racers

Scott Hoppel has been drag racing since the late 80’s and has learned the rules of the track by heart.

Some may think that drag racing is not a sophisticated sport, but to local racing fans, drag cars are a feat of engineering. With several things to consider before the race, drivers spend a lot of time and effort finding ways to push their cars to the max. 
Drag racing, a professional and legal auto-sport, is a game of distance. Two racers in souped-up muscle cars have a ⅛ mile track to show how fast they can go. While it might sound like a regular race, there are many rules that drivers must know before hitting the gas. 
“I have been racing since I was 12 years old,” Scott Hoppel, a drag racer from Abbeville, said. “You have to be very dedicated to the sport. It takes a lot of hard work, grease, sweat and determination to win.” 
Hoppel has been drag racing since the late 80’s and has learned the rules of the track by heart. Hoppel drives a 1991 Chevy S-10 with a 383 aluminum head stroker motor. He has also made other alterations to his truck to reach speeds over 170 mph. 

While speed is a key factor for races, the driver’s ability to react quickly and drive at a consistent speed is just as important. In bracket racings, one of the two main types of drag races, there are rules that ensure that every car gets a fair chance.
“Reaction time, how fast you react to the go light, and consistency, how constant your speed remains, are two important rules of the game,” Hoppel said. “If someone cuts a good light and stays consistent, anyone could win.”
Hoppel’s 1991 Chevy S-10

Before each race, drivers practice for two hours to see what their best finish time will be on that particular track. There are many factors that can influence a car’s performance such as temperature, tire pressure, and the weather. Bracket racers use their best time to determine what time they should finish in the race.
Two cars line themselves on the track, and the slower car is given a lead way advantage based on the difference in estimated finish times. If one car is predicted to reach the finish line in six minutes and the other car will finish in five minutes, the latter will get a minute delay. 
Drivers use an electrical go-light, called the Christmas tree, to indicate when to start. If a driver goes when he/she is not supposed to, a red light, they are disqualified.
If the system works, both cars should get to the finish line around the same time. If a driver beats his/her speed time, a breakout, they are disqualified. If both racers go under their times, the driver with the slower speed wins. 
To win by the rules, drivers need to beat their competition to the finish line without breaking their estimated finish time. While drivers can win by taking longer than their estimated time, drivers try to go as fast as they can without finishing too soon. 
“Everyone has the same advantage, everything is controlled by computers,” Sammy Farrell, a 32-year racing veteran, and owner of Farrell’s Transmission said. “It’s all about getting into a routine and doing everything in the same way as your time trial.”
Farrell comes from a large racing family that including his brothers and nephews. Farrell races in a 1991 small block Camaro that also runs on a 383 motor. Currently, Farrell is recovering from heart surgery, but he hopes to be back on the track by October. 
Farrell is a 32-year racing veteran who comes from a large racing family that including his brothers and nephews

“Some people call us adrenaline junkies,” Hoppel said. “Some cars go as fast as 4Gs. You just hold on to the rocket and enjoy the ride.”
Locals like racing on the race tracks in Holly Springs on Friday nights and Byhalia on Saturday night. Both tracks open their gates to the public around 6:00 p.m. and trial runs start at 7:00 p.m. The races begin at 9:00 p.m. and can last until midnight. 
“It’s something fun to get into, and it’s good for the family,” Farrell said. “It’s just good fun.”
Note: Do not participate in illegal street races. 

Allen Brewer is an intern for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at agbrewer@go.olemiss.edu. 

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