What is rollout in drag racing? The complete guide

Did you know that rollout is an essential part of drag racing? According to most people, staging a car takes center stage, and they forget about the rollout. However, whether you are a drag racer or seasoned racer, you have probably heard of the term rollout. In this article, we are going to discuss one key aspect – what is rollout in drag racing.

Drag racers will tell you that rollout improves your vehicle’s elapsed time while saving you countless red lights. According to several seasoned racers, you could gain a lot from the rollout, especially when you are late. I am sure it’s beginning to sound interesting right about now. However, to understand the term rollout, we need to take a look at how the system works.

How does the system work?

We need to start at the very beginning so that you can have a better understanding. Virtually, a drag strip needs to feature a stage beam and pre-stage. Understand that the distance between the pre-stage and stage beam is approximately seven inches.

However, this distance will vary between different tracks. In some drag races, the distance might even change during an event. If the stage beam doesn’t start, then most tracks have a guard beam to start the ET clock.

The stage beam, also known as the start line, is about 15 inches from the guard beam. Understand that the guard beam location is used as the starting point for all down track dimensions. The installed pre-stage bulb will notify a driver when their car is approaching the stage beam.

The timer will begin immediately the front tires pass entirely through the stage beam. However, when you start too soon, the red light will turn on, and you find yourself going home early.

Increasing your rollout distance will give your car several advantages that could be the difference between losing and winning. The added distance ensures that you have a bit of time before the light beam reconnects. Understand that increasing the rollout distance will also shorten the length of the track slightly.

The downside of increasing rollout distance

Note that increasing your rollout distance will lead to increased reaction time. This is a huge downside when your reaction times are average. However, when you have good reaction times, then you can increase your rollout distance as much as the rules will let you.

Rollout and reaction time

The rollout is the ability of the driver and car to react to the installed Christmas tree lights and quickly leave their starting line with precision. Understand, therefore, that a driver with a good reaction time will have a higher chance of winning a drag race.

The reaction time measures the vehicle and driver performance at their starting line. The quick response by the driver is the rollout or reaction time.


Understand rollout could be the difference between losing and winning a drag race. The rollout distance will get a faster trap speed and E.T, which is instrumental in winning. Yes, the reaction time might slightly increase, but this shouldn’t be a problem when you do it right.

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