And Racing Breaks Out!! I recently made my annual trip to the Monroe Swap meet to check out acres of cars, parts and accessories. This time I did not bring a car to sell and managed to not buy a car. I did find a really nice 1962 license plate for my new 62 T-Bird and ate several scones (jam, no butter). My friend Jeff joined me later and we kept noticing loud, smokey burnouts over on the track. Usually cars are racing around the track and not just spinning their wheels, so after we had seen enough car parts we headed to the grandstand to see what was going on. It turns out they they were doing "Bracket Racing." I am a car guy but was never a huge racing fan so I had heard of bracket racing but certainly didn’t know how it worked. We sat in the stands for the entire event and had fun watching and trying to figure out what was happening. After I got home I read up on bracket racing and discovered that it places a premium on consistency of performance of the car and driver rather than raw speed, so winning is less dependent on large infusions of money and more dependent on driving skill such as reaction time, shifting ability and ability to control the car.
Bracket racing is sometimes called "run-what-ya-brung" since you can race just about anything with wheels. We saw blown 57 Chevys, new Hondas, a guy’s grandmothers 1960’s pickup, a super quick dune buggy thing that weighed almost nothing and had 10’ drag bars on the back and just about any other kind of car you could think of. Any of these cars might be running against another just based upon the elapsed time they expected to run in the 1/8th mile. Some of the really fast cars arrived by trailer but many were just driven to the track. If you choose to be in the 7 second class then you have to beat the other guy down the track but if you are under 7 seconds it is called "breaking out" and you lose unless of course the other guy is even faster than you in which case he loses even though he crossed the finish line first. The quickest class was 5.5 seconds which was close to 100 miles an hour. These drivers were really skillful and in one of the 7 second races the time were 7.02 and 7.04. I didn’t quite understand but reaction times sometimes also figured into who won or lost. It was a very casual but well organized racing event and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys cars.