How to Achieve Neck Snapping 60′ Launches

Dec 22, 2003

There are many products available and becoming available for the Grand Prix that aid in launching. Some of these are:

  • Limited slip differentials
  • Coil spacers or spring blockers for the rear
  • Traction bars for the front
  • Lowering springs to a small degree
  • Struts to a small degree
  • Some people have even suggested some pretty radical ideas like:
  • Raising the rear end with a wheelie bar
  • Making a VHT sprayer
  • Running super huge slicks
  • Retarding timing at launch


10/26/2003 Update: In 2003 ,ZZPerformance became the first FWD GP to ever get into the 1.5 60’s. Our 97 M90 GTP currently holds the FWD 60′ record with a 1.54 60 foot time! This was achieved by eliminating nearly all of the rear suspension travel via custom made traction system. What I would like to discuss is how to achieve great times with a typical stock setup. Most people don’t have all the above things so they are whom I’m addressing with this information.

Here it is: MAKE SURE that you have the proper amount of air in your tires for drag racing. You wouldn’t autocross with a nearly flat tire so why try and drag race with full pressure? Some people will rationalize this saying that they want to know how their car performs with no track preps. However, that is a BAD IDEA and here’s why: On the street the pavement is rough and there are lots of small bumps for the treads in your tires to catch to gain you traction so even while spinning you get a lot of friction to move forward. On the track there is no rough surface, instead you have a ‘sticky’ surface that grips the tires very well but only until you break lose.

Once you start spinning on the track you lose any sort or traction and the surface becomes very slick. Check out the drag racing tips for proper tire inflation pressures. Do a burnout. This is extremely important. If you have slicks or drag radials you need to heat the crap out of them. This is the only way to get them nice and sticky. I’m talking about 20 seconds or more here folks. Smoke should pour off of each tire before they’re ready. If you have street tires it’s a different game. Here you want a clean fresh rubber surface but not much heat in the tire. Drive around the water box, do about 3 very short burnouts in the section between the water box and the staging, just enough to clean the tires.

Another aspect that we now need to address is rear tire pressure. Having the rear tires inflated to high pressures reduces rolling resistance. Before the days of ‘skinnies’ drag racers used to inflate their tires to 80psi or more! This is way over recommended, but definitely helps reduce rolling resistance and increase mph. While these guys did this for their front tires we do it on our rears, as they are the non-driven wheels. Having the rears inflated to high pressures also reduces the tires tendency to squash under load and will help keep some weight on the front during launching. When you do a burnout you need to set the parking brake to keep from moving forward. This creates a problem with inflating rear tires. Rear tires need to hold the car in one spot with the reduced contact patch of a highly inflated tire.  In order to make sure this won’t be an issue I usually arrive to the track with my rears set to 45 (rated max) and lower them a little if I can’t stand still in the water box. Keep in mind that with street tires this isn’t so much of an issue (therefore keep the pressure high!).

At the starting line make sure you stage very shallow. You have a few inches of play with the lights and you want to just barely trip the second light. The reason for this is that you get a running start so to speak in your launch and since you are going to be gentle with the throttle you need every inch you can get. After you stage and both lights turn yellow you are going to do a brake stand while waiting for the lights to come down. Lightly load the transmission and hold the engine rpm around 1800. On the LAST YELLOW you go. If you wait to see the green light you are way too late. This is one of the most common mistakes that our members make and it results in terrible reaction times. The reaction time does not affect your ET but it’s still a good idea to practice for bracket racing. Ease the pedal down taking about 1 full second to reach WOT.

This is the part that you will need to get a lot of practice with. You will need to get a feel for how fast to sink the pedal. Start on the conservative side and get more and more aggressive until you start to spin the tires on launches. When you break the tires lose ease up on the gas and then get back into in when the car hooks up again. Seems like a lot to do but eventually by following these steps you will get very good at ‘feeling’ the car. I also noticed that most people on the boards seem to make the same mistakes. Believe me the information here works, so use it! Using the information above I have laid down

  • 1.69 60′ with slicks. Currently the world’s best for a FWD GP
  • 1.81 60’ with drag radials
  • 1.98 60’ with a 14 sec GP and street tires in stock size

These times were also done without any launching devices discussed in the beginning.