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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Motorsports Makeover - Drag Racing in Gran Turismo

John B. Marine | 11:53 PM | | |
(UPDATED: February 5, 2013)

Drag racing for Gran Turismo is a concept many have wanted for quite some time. We thought the two drag racing cars in Gran Turismo 2 would possibly fuel interest in drag racing. We thought Gran Turismo 4 was going to deliver on drag racing with the streets of Las Vegas serving as a drag strip. Neither has materialized to any true drag racing in the Gran Turismo series.

About The Label: "Motorsports Makeover"

This blog post is part of a blog label for JGTS called "Motorsports Makeover," devoted to enhancing the motorsports aspect of Gran Turismo for its long-term success. I will explain various aspects to help enhance the character of racing in Gran Turismo for the future. My readers and subscribers are invited to comment away with their own thoughts on each issue as I express them.

--- Drag Racing at a Glance ---

For many people, drag racing is stupid- just go in a straight line. It is funny that my first post in this series relates to drag racing. However, it is a legitimate motorsport. Drag racing is about much more than going in a straight line. People treat drag racing much like anyone can drag race. That may be true for most people in most circles, but that is not true in execution. Drag racing entails the following:

• reaction time
• timely shifts
• loads of power and a good transmission setup
• hooking to the track

You need to have a proper understanding of the aspects of drag racing before envisioning featuring this into the Gran Turismo series. As far as strategy is concerned, one of the greatest aspects of drag racing is winning on a holeshot. A holeshot win is when you just seem to pull away in a close drag race on sheer speed and power. To keep some races competitive, some cars are started later than others in some drag races. But often times, drag racing is done heads-up.

Types of Drag Racing.

The two real kinds of drag races are eighth-mile and quarter-mile drag racing. Eighth-mile drag racing uses only half of the quarter mile. Races are actually just as exciting at the 1/8 mile as they can be down the 1/4 mile. One has to configure the car to blast down the track much quicker than with a quarter mile.

As for the traditional quarter mile, you need to cut a good light and make sure your car is built to take on the quarter mile. You know you have a great car if you can set up a car to be a 10.50 car (or also called 10.5 cars). Or in other words, a car that can blast down the quarter mile at or about 10.50 seconds.

Types of Drag Racing: Classes.

Many drag racing series have various classes of competition. I am not familiar with them to explain them professionally, but you have things like bracket racers, outlaw drags... and then all the real drag racing machines. You know, funny car, top fuel, pro stock, and stuff like that (as far as cars are concerned). There are even drag racing series for other kinds of vehicles. You can think of something like NOPI Drag Racing featuring classes for rear-wheel drive and front-wheel drive drag racing cars.

I apologize that I can't express drag racing any more professionally to make this post any more informative. So I will move on...

--- Gran Turismo Drag Racing: Videos and Inspiration ---

These two videos demonstrate the drag racing influence GT has had. That will be followed by real drag racing videos to show what drag racing COULD be like for Gran Turismo if PD took the time to properly implement and perfect drag racing.

Gran Turismo Drag Racing Videos.

This video features a quarter-mile pass by a Suzuki Escudo Pikes Peak in Gran Turismo 4:

This video features one of the two HKS drag cars in Gran Turismo 2 in a Max Speed trial:

Other than this, there has been NO true drag racing for Gran Turismo.

Drag Racing Inspiration.

These videos demonstrate what Gran Turismo COULD be like if proper drag racing was implemented. The videos are provided for educational purposes only:

--- Outlaw Drag Car ---
Here is a 10-second car for you, a good old Camaro doing down the quarter mile:

Many people often see most American cars as being only good for drag racing. This 1960s Camaro has been insanely modified to blast down the 1/4 mile.

--- Sport Compact Drag Racing ---
Check out this drag race in the realm of sport compacts:

--- Import vs. Domestic ---
And then, there's nothing like a good import vs. domestic battle. This is a front-wheel drive Civic vs. a rear-wheel drive Mustang:

--- Eighth-Mile Drags ---
Now... here's a look at some pro-level drag racing. Check out this video for inspiration with two SWEET 3,000 horsepower drag cars in an eighth-mile drag race:

--- Dedicated Drag Cars ---
Because I wanted to mostly focus on road-going cars, I haven't considered much with proper drag machines. So here are two videos to showcase some proper drag racing machines. The first one is a top fuel dragster in Australia, and the other video features a Funny Car drag race.

Top Fuel dragsters have a big rear wing, skinny and thin tires up front, and BIG meaty tires at the rear. Top fuel dragsters in the NHRA have engines pushing about 8,000 horsepower. The fastest of top fuelers can blast down the quarter mile in under five seconds with speeds exceeding 300 miles per hour. Here is a top fuel dragster making a pass down the track:

Funny cars are called what they are because they look... very funny. The name of these cars may be laughable, but they are serious in blasting down the quarter mile. Funny cars are pure drag racing versions of road-going cars but are modified greatly in appearance. They have big rear tires to hook to the road as well as wheelie bars

Pro Stock cars greatly resemble road-going cars with a stock car-like appearance. They have a big hood scoop to feed air into the engine as well as an appearance very much suited for drag racing. They have functional doors and even realistic (but non-functional) headlights. I immediately think of "The Professor" Warren Johnson when I think of Pro Stock drag racing, as he's one of the best of all time in the class. Here is a sample Pro Stock pass:

You now have your inspiration on drag racing.

--- Gran Turismo Drag Racing: How to Implement? ---

The best-laid plans mean nothing without a solid base. If PD is to properly deliver with drag racing, it needs to be done right.

Drag Racing Rules.

• The first order of business would be to properly have a burnout. I recall in "Need for Speed: Pro Street" where a mini-game allows you to get as much grip into the tires before your pass. Grip is important as well as hooking to the track while making your burnout. Get as much heat as possible and then head back to the starting point.

• The start itself is critical. You stage by advancing your car just a little bit to activate the timing lights. You then access the second timing lights. Your opponent in the other lane will do the same staging. When both you and your opponent are properly staged, three yellow lights will activate followed by the green light to go. You have about only a half a second to properly blast down the track without red lighting. A red light is a foul in which you leave too early from the line. Rather than the green light on a clean start, you get a red light for a foul start.

• As you go down the track, it is important to gear your car for acceleration. Make timely shifts at the right moment to get the most speed out of your car.

• Try to keep your car hooked while making your pass down the track. That steering wheel is there for a reason- to keep your car pointed straight as you try to hook down the track. Getting out of the groove will leave your car going every which way. Remember- drag racing, while it seems like you're going in a straight line, is not that easy. You are in a wrestling match to keep your car stuck on the track without going into the outside wall or across the opponent's lane.

• If you hit the outside wall or cross into the opponent's lane, you will be disqualified.

The most important aspects of drag racing is to have a proper feel of drag racing. Everything from the burnout to properly going down the track have to be authentic and real.

Drag Racing Competition.

Drag racing is often done bracket-style. You usually have brackets arranged by powers of 2 (8, 16, 32, etc.) entries in bracket format. Qualifying is based on landing the fastest time down the track. Just like in most tournament formats, higher seeds go up against lower seeds. So in a 32-car tournament with two individual 16-entry brackets, a #1 seed will battle a #16 seed in the first round match. All the battles eventually lead to the remaining two. When it comes to the finals, lane choice is offered to one qualifier. So if you think one lane is hooking better than the other, you can choose that lane for the final pass.

If a car breaks or is disqualified in the earlier rounds, you get a Bye run that sends you straight to the next round via forfeit from the opponent.

Drag Racing Contests.

There can be a variety of contests for drag racing to make things realistic. Competitions would mostly be quarter-mile drag races, but some may allow for eighth-mile drag races. Here are a sample variety of competitions (hypothetical names):

• Front-Wheel Drive Drags
• Rear-Wheel Drive Drags
• Four-Wheel Drive Drags
• Compact Drags
• Muscle Car Drags (limited to American muscle cars up to 1975)
• Sport Truck Drags
• American Car Drags (all American cars)
• Euro Drags (all European cars)
• Japanese Car Drags (all Japanese cars)
• Normally-Aspirated Drags
• Turbo Drags
• (displacement-limited drags) (drag racing limited to cars of certain levels of engine displacement. For example: 2000cc or more drag races)
• Unlimited Drags (no rules: run what you brung and go all out!)
• Race Car Challenge (limited only to Racing cars, excluding proper drag cars)
• Drag Car Challenge (drag racing cars only)
• (manufacturer-based drag races)
• One-Make or Rivalry-based drag races

If PD flexes their creative muscle, they can make all kinds of fun classes of drag racing. Us gamers can make our own drag racing classes and brackets. Think of a simple 16-car field that can be all sorted out to include various kinds of drag racing. Qualifying and actual racing would be great in building a true drag racing model. What would also be interesting if there were Seasonal events that allowed for drag racing. My only fear about Seasonal-related drag racing would be Performance Point restrictions that would take away from the all-out appeal of drag racing.

Unless an event requires street tires, drag racing tires would be more than required for drag racing events.

Drag Racing Venues.

I think the best PD can do is use certain tracks that have drag strips. One such track is Infineon Raceway featured in GT4. The drag strip can be used for proper drag racing. If not that, then dedicated drag strips (NOT the Las Vegas Drag Strip) will do for drag racing. Bandimere Speedway in Colorado was studied for Gran Turismo 5. Why not feature this? Besides real tracks, Polyphony Digital could make their own drag strips based on certain tracks. Or maybe even (this may be an unpopular decision) make their own generic drag strip. The old Test Course does NOT qualify as a proper drag strip even though you can do 0-400m and 0-1000m tests there. I'd prefer a proper drag strip. Some people even fancy the four-wide drag strip at Charlotte Motor Speedway for four-way drag racing. Whatever it takes to stir the senses, I want to (and don't mind) doing drag racing in the Gran Turismo realm.

--- Will Drag Racing EVER Happen for Gran Turismo? ---

No true drag racing for any of the Gran Turismo titles. Think about this- people wouldn't mind stock car racing, and we got NASCAR stock cars in Gran Turismo 5. People wouldn't mind drag racing, but all we've gotten from it were two drag cars in GT2 and a rather useless (unless for testing) makeshift drag strip in GT4.

Keep in mind that this blog post is part of a series regarding a motorsports makeover for Gran Turismo's long-term future. Part of that motorsports makeover involves adding more kinds of racing along with improving the current racing series featured in GT games.

How can drag racing benefit in GT's long-term future? Here are a number of ways:
• drag racing adds more ways to race and enjoy racing
• you can put those Racing Transmissions and high-level engine/turbo tuning to good use!
• drag racing can be great for tuning
• actual drag racing fans can enjoy drag racing in the Gran Turismo universe

Going on the Special Events in Gran Turismo 5, I get the impression that this department will only improve in future installments of Gran Turismo. I hope this continues with more styles of racing to keep things fresh. Perhaps tutorials and challenges can be set to teach GT gamers about drag racing and how to properly execute not only in Gran Turismo, but also if you drag race (not drag racing on the streets) or want to be a drag racer. There can only be positives in implementing drag racing.

Question is, does Polyphony Digital believe in adding proper drag racing after here-and-there attempts? You may as well stop "teasing" drag racing and add proper drag racing.

So do you agree or disagree with the points mentioned? Feel free to comment away as well as make suggestions to me so I can make this blog post better for my readers worldwide. Thank you for reading! Race on, folks!

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