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Anyone Can Do It!
Or - How bracket racing works
Drag racing has been with us as an organized sport since the Santa Anna Drags opened June 19, 1950. But you can bet that a couple of animal drawn carts probably met on a crude road outside of the village and the drivers ran 'em off to see who had the better animal. Bracket racing is a variation on the standard drag race that many are familiar with. The standard drag race (commonly called "a Heads Up race") is two vehicles going from A to B with the first to reach B declared the winner. This is the standard form of drag racing at the professional level.
Bracket racing modifies this format in an attempt to level the playing field for all so that anyone can compete with whatever vehicle they may own. Some people have even been known to race in rental cars (not recommended - check your rental agreement!). The method used to equal things up is the staggered start. For example, lets say Grandma Gertie's Super Stock Dodge can run the 660' strip in 7 seconds. Jimmie Newbie has a nice old Mustang that's not real fast but it's fun to drive. In time trials, he finds it takes him 10 seconds to get to the finish line. The respective times are known as their "dial in" and is written on their windows so that the timing officials can put the numbers in the computer. Jimmie draws Gertie in the first round, so they stage up. The computer in the timing tower will trigger Jimmie's light 3 seconds before it triggers Gertie's, giving Jimmie a head start. If both drivers were to leave the start line with a perfect .500 reaction and run exactly on their dial-in, there would be a tie. Don't worry, this has yet to happen. Timing things to the thousandth of a second coupled with human reactions pretty much prevents that. One either gets off the line first or misses their dial-in so there is always a winner.
What keeps them "honest"? Meaning why can't one leave the starting line way ahead of the other and what prevents someone from running a 7 but writing an 8 on the window and killing 'em at the top end (called "sandbagging"). It's the rules! If you leave before the green light comes on, the red bulb lights and you're disqualified for jumping the start. On the dial-in, if you run under your dial-in it's called a "breakout" and again you're disqualified for going TOO fast. With these controls in place and if the driver is on their game the littlest Festiva can trailer the baddest Pro Street car in the city.
Christmas Tree: The electronic starting device positioned between the lanes just ahead of the starting line.
Pre Stage: When your tires break this light beam, it's a signal that you are very close to the starting line.
Stage: Your front tires have reached the starting line. NOTE: The race typically will not be started until both drivers are staged. However, there is only a short grace period for staging. If you fail to stage in time, you will be disqualified (red light).
Countdown lights: Once the starter triggers the tree, these flash down at .500 second intervals with the green coming on .500 seconds after the last yellow.
Green: Get on it!
Red: Disqualified or foul

60' and 330' timers These give time at various intervals on the track. Your 60' time is generally an indication of how well your car "hooks" - how much traction it has.
Alcohol Refers to Methanol when used as a motor fuel
Auto Start Once both cars are pre-staged and the first car stages, the second car has a predetermined amount of time to stage before the tree is automatically activated. This is referred to as the "Time Out". If the second car fails to stage before the system "Times Out", it will be given a red light. The Time Out value for Jr. Dragsters is 15 seconds and for all other ET classes it is 10 seconds.
Bracket A specific class defined by elapsed time or required equipment. Example: Electronics, Street Money
Bracket Tree Operation of the Christmas Tree starting system that flashes each yellow bulb in turn .500 ( one half) second apart follwed by the green .500 seconds later. Also called a Sportsman Tree
Breakout Running faster than your dial-in (you "dial" a 10.00, but run a 9.99)
Burnout Spinning the tires to clean them and to heat the rubber for better traction. Drag slicks work best at an elevated temperature. NOTE: Street tires DO NOT require a burnout. Typically, they will actually perform worse if heated. However, you are free to burn 'em down if you like. If you do not wish to make a burnout, you may drive around the water box.
Buyback A second chance offer to re-enter the race.  Competitors eliminated in the first (sometimes second) round can re-enter the race by paying a fee, typically 1/2 of the class entry fee. Similar to a "mulligan" in golf. 
Courtesy Staging The first racer to light the pre-stage bulb must wait for their competitor to light the other pre-stage bulb.  The racers may then perform their final staging maneuver. 
Dial-In The ET that the driver or crew chief thinks that the car will run. It is posted on the front and passenger side windows.
Double Breakout When both competitors run under their dial-in.  The one that runs closest to their dial-in is declared the winner.
Doorslammer A full bodied car with doors
Eliminations The actual race. Competitors are paired up by two's, tournament style,  with only half coming back for the next round.
ET Elapsed time. The time from when the front tires leave the starting line beam until the front tires break the finish line beam. Reported to the ten-thousandth of a second.   That's .0001
Heads Up Two cars racing with no handicap start. The classic drag race.
Hole Shot The better reaction time. The "hole" is the starting line.  "Hole Shot' means I got out of there first / put the moves on 'em.
Instant Green Setting the timing system to fire only the green bulb after staging is complete.
Pro Tree The three yellow lights flash on all at the same time and the green lights .400 seconds after. There is also a "5 tenths Pro Tree", which is timed at .500 between the yellows and green.
Reaction Time The time between the driver's reaction to the last yellow of the tree and the time the front tires leave the staging beam. It can also be thought of as how close you came to leaving on the green light. It is printed on the ET slip. An example: .531 
(.500 is a perfect light on a sportsman tree, .400 on a Pro tree.)
What this really means is that your front tire(s) left the stage beam .031 seconds after the green light came on.  Some tracks add in the .500 between the last yellow and the greenon the time slip, others just report the actual time in relation to the green as a plus or minus figure. The reaction time is also a combination of the driver's reaction to the lights and the car's reaction to the driver's input.
Red Light or Foul Start The red light is triggered by leaving before the green. It can also signal a foul or disqualification, like failing to stage in the required time or breaking something.
Speed beam Your speed at the finish is calculated by measuring the time between when you break the speed beam and the finish line beam. The speed trap is 66' wide.
Sportsman Tree The bracket race tree where the 3 yellow lights flash at .500 second intervals and the green lights .500 seconds after the last yellow.
Staging Lanes Lanes marked off behind the burnout box area where the competitors are paired up for the race.
Time Trials A certain number of runs granted to each competitor giving each a chance to get their car ready for the race.
Top end Near the finish line (Usage: "I had 'em on a hole shot, but they caught me on the top end.")
Water box/burnout box A small area kept wet by track personnel to help cars with slicks perform their burnout