NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Let's Race

NHRA Street Legal Logo

What to expect

When you get to an NHRA Member Track for an NHRA Street Legal event, you’ll pay your entry fee and get a tech card. Fill out your information on the tech card and proceed to the tech area to submit your car for a safety inspection. The tech staff and track officials will inspect your car to make sure you meet the racing safety requirements. Some of the safety requirements include:

  • Seat Belts
  • Working headlights and taillights
  • Safe, DOT-Approved tires
  • Secured Battery
  • Must be wearing long pants (no nylon), a sleeved shirt, closed-toe shoes, and socks when making your run.
  • Helmets and additional safety equipment may be required.

Contact your local track for specifics; they are more than willing to help you determine if your vehicle meets the requirements.

What do I need to participate? *

Check with your local NHRA member track for its requirements, but generally, you can expect to be expected to provide proof of the following:

  • A valid driver's license
  • Valid vehicle registration and insurance
  • DOT-approved street-legal tires
  • Seat belts
  • Muffler
  • If using nitrous, nitrous oxide bottles must be stamped as meeting DOT 1,800-pound standards *Requirements may vary

What to expect at the track Step-by-Step

  1. Entry: When you enter the track, you'll receive a tech card after paying your entry/participation fee.
  2. Tech: After completing your tech card, you'll drive your vehicle to tech, where a simple safety inspection will be performed on your car.
  3. Registration: You'll then check in at racer registration, where you'll sign a release form and show your valid driver's license.
  4. Staging lanes: Once you're registered, drive to the rear of the staging lanes and get ready to race. See tips on Staging your vehicle.
  5. Race: When it's time for you to race, an official will motion to you. Do a burnout if you'd like, or drive around the water box and get ready to stage. When both cars are ready, you'll stage using the Christmas Tree. At the end of your run, slow down and exit properly.
  6. Timing booth: After your run, you'll pick up your time slip at the timing booth to see how your vehicle performed. Then return to the pits to get ready for more runs.

Where can I race?

NHRA has more than 110 member tracks across the United States and in Canada and Mexico. For more information about an NHRA Street Legal program in your community, contact your local

Once you’ve gone through tech inspections, signed a waiver form and found a pit space,  you’re ready to race. Follow your competitors to the staging lanes and you’ll be directed by track officials into the correct lane and make you way up to the Christmas Tree.Christmas Tree

Before you pull up to the Tree, make sure you door is closed, windows are rolled up and your seat belt is on. If the track lights are on, your headlights will need to be on.

When it’s your turn to run, remember that the staging beams are about 40 feet before the Tree. Pull forward slowly until the top yellow blub on the Tree lights up. That means you are “pre-staged.” Then, roll forwards slightly until the second yellow light comes on. That means you are ”staged” and ready to go.

Once you’re staged, the Started will activate the Tree. The lower yellow lights will come on one at a time a half-second apart. Be ready to hit the gas when the last yellow light comes on. By the time you and your car react, the green light will be on. If you happen to red light (meaning you actually do react before the green light) don’t worry. It happens even to the most experienced racers.

Make sure you know where the finish line is before you make your run. When you cross the finish line don’t hit your brakes too hard. Keep going to the opening in the guard rail where you’ll turn off the track. Remember, the driver in the lane next to the turnouts has the right away, don’t cross in front of them. Also, don’t turn around on the track.

After you’ve turned off the track, head to the timing booth and get your time slip. Return to your pit area and look over your slip. If you need help read it, ask a track official or a fellow racer.
  • Some rules can very by track so be sure to check the rules at the track where you’re going to race.