12/31/2014 - Tutorial 71: Regarding Sponsorship
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 71:

My point is this: don’t pursue marketing partners that you don’t believe in. If you can’t look people in the eye and tell them to purchase that product or service, then what the hell are you doing? In my experience, I’ve established relationships to represent manufacturers and service providers that I believe in. If I didn’t think they had the best products, I wouldn’t be using them in the first place, much less endorsing their company! That makes it an easy sell. I use their products, I trust their products, and I depend on their products. That is evident when I talk about those products – it’s easy for potential customers to believe me and trust my word because it’s obvious that I believe in the products and services that I represent.

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11/30/2014 - Tutorial 70: Of Mice and Men... And Ignition Boxes
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 70:

Digital ignition boxes are nothing new. The analog boxes of years past began to be replaced with higher powered digital versions well over a decade ago. My understanding is that, in addition to providing a higher rate of discharge (spark), the digital technology allows programmers greater flexibility to add and adjust features of the ignition system (rpm limiters, ignition timing, etc.). Advanced analog boxes include many of these same features, but every function on an analog box needs to be activated by a separate electronic device- something needs to turn them on. Digital ignition boxes allow the capability to pre-set these functions based on time from transbrake release and/or rpm and distance traveled. In simple terms, rather than running a wire from a timer or delay box to a function such as a timing retard, that function can all be controlled internally by the digital ignition box.
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10/31/2014 - Tutorial 69: An Attempt to Justify My Recent Success
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 69:

As I look back on the past two seasons, I see unparalleled success. While I obviously enjoy the accomplishments, and try to soak it all in as much as possible, there’s a huge part of me that wants to know why. Why is it that I’m having more success now than I did five years ago, or ten years ago? What am I doing differently? I bracket raced for years, and chased the IHRA tour a couple of times without earning a championship. In my first two seasons of chasing an NHRA title I came close, with a quartet of top-ten finishes, but couldn’t quite get over the top. What’s been different about these past two years? I ask myself these questions as much for my own good as anything: I want to be able to duplicate this success going forward, or at least pinpoint the areas of improvement that have enabled it in an attempt to continue that same upward trajectory. While I perform this exercise in large part for my own benefit, I feel like this introspection can be helpful to each of you. Whether your goal is an NHRA World Championship or a local track championship, the skills, tools, competition, and desire necessary to get there is the same. Hopefully some of the thoughts and ideas that I share here can help you in the pursuit of your own goals.
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9/29/2014 - Tutorial 68: Deciphlering Reaction Time
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 68:

We’ve discussed at length the importance of determining reaction times; doing so creates the blueprint for the entire race. We introduced the idea back in Tutorial 1, harped on it again in Tutorial 9, and have made reference to that core idea in multiple other writings. Thanks to these tutorials, I think we all get the idea: if we could hit pause on our run just after leaving the starting line and print a time slip, we’d be at a huge advantage. In the 60+ tutorials here on TIBR, we’ve yet to really discuss how to determine the reaction time difference in our car, on the race track. Outside of some explanation in a couple of JEGS Q&A topics years ago, and some vague references in our tutorials, it’s a topic we really haven’t touched on. In what is likely a long overdue column, that topic is the focus of Tutorial 68: Deciphering Reaction Times.
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8/31/2014 - Tutorial 67: Applying Some Wooden Logic to Our Game
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 67:

My family and I recently enjoyed a relaxing vacation; a weeklong cruise through the Atlantic with stops in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. It was paradise: when I wasn’t sipping Pina Collates or enjoying the company of my wife and little guy, I had my nose buried in a book. In this case, a mountain of a book: Seth Davis’s 500+ page biography of 10-time NCAA champion UCLA head basketball coach John Wooden, called Wooden, A Coach’s Life. First off, it was a great read. Most of you know that I love to read, I’m a huge fan of college basketball, plus I really like biographies and autobiographies about successful people in all walks of life (and I can generally identify with sports figures). As I tend to do, I not only enjoyed learning more about the subject of the book, I also took away a number of things from John Wooden’s success that I could apply to our world in racing (and in my case, teaching).
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7/31/2014 - Tutorial 66: Purse Redistribution
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 66:

In this month’s column we’re going to talk about splits, or more accurately, redistributing the purse. “Splitting” is a common occurrence at bracket events ranging from weekly races to the richest events in the land. Yet, I’m often floored by the splits that I’m presented with in the late rounds, and some of the deals that I’m told about in various events. While I think that everyone understands the idea of redistributing the purse, there are some pretty crazy interpretations of it; and there are racers who (knowingly or unknowingly) get taken advantage of in split situations and sometimes leave a ton of money on the table. As a result, I’ve decided to use this space in our Ohlins Monthly Tutorial and dedicate it to what I feel is a common sense approach to purse redistribution.
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6/30/2014 - Tutorial 65: Racing To Your Opponent
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 65:

Often times we attempt to race down (or up) to our competition. Typically if we’re competing against what we deem to be an inferior opponent, we’ll tend to race not to lose. I’m not saying that we slack off necessarily, but we won’t typically push the envelope. There’s no reason to red light against an inferior opponent, right? On the other hand, if we’re racing an opponent that we feel is a better racer than we are, often times we’ll change our entire mindset in an effort to be better for that one particular round. Neither outlook is a recipe for success. In the following pages I’ll do my best to explain why.
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5/30/2014 - Tutorial 64: The Pursuit of Improvement
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 64:

A year ago, I posted a column titled “Improvement and Success, It’s a Process” – it was Tutorial 52. Today’s column is an extension of that in some regards. Within Tutorial 52, I basically broke down our on track success into two equally critical components: Understanding and execution. I will assume that as TIBR members you have taken advantage of the opportunity to utilize the large pool of resources available here on the site, which should have each of you in a pretty good place in terms of understanding. That’s key, because understanding is the foundation for which all success must be achieved. As we all know, however, the gap between being a consistent winner and an “also ran” isn’t limited exclusively to understanding. Knowledge is power, but it’s wasted without proper execution. That’s the subject of this month’s column: execution. Within the following paragraphs I will attempt to lay out several steps that each of us can take to improve.
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4/30/2014 - Tutorial 63, Throttle Stop Tuning Basics
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 63:

As I try to do anytime that I focus more on the mechanical aspect of racing than on driving or mentality, I want to preface my statements by assuring each of you that I am not a mechanical engineer. I’m not even a particularly good mechanic. As a result, I often struggle to explain why a certain idea, principle, or product works or doesn’t work. What I am is a racer. And I’m a tinkerer. And if I’m confident enough to write something here it’s because I’ve tried it; and I know that it either worked or didn’t work for me in real race conditions on a real race track. My opinions aren’t rooted in a study of mechanics or physics; they come from trial and error. As a result, I apologize if I’m not always able to verbalize some of my points. Rest assured that I am making my best effort to lead you in the right direction!
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3/31/2014 - Tutorial 62, What will you do if...
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 62:

As racers, I think to some extent we’re all kind of adverse to the dangers of our sport. While we all realize that the potential exists for something to go wrong, unless we’ve been through an accident or a tense situation on the race track I think we tend to fall into the trap of thinking “It won’t happen to me.” While I don’t want to dwell on the dangers of our sport, and that’s not my intent with this column, I do think it would do us all good to cover some basic “What if’s.”
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2/27/2014 - Tutorial 61, Racing Geography
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 62:

It’s tough to race (and win) everywhere. At the same time, there are free rounds to be awarded everywhere (racers, regardless their level of skill and experience, make mistakes). Over the course of my racing career, I’ve had the unique opportunity to compete at over 100 different racing facilities in events ranging from $100-to-win “jackpot” or “gamblers” events to the US Nationals and the Million Dollar Race. At the local level, there may be some validity to the idea that certain tracks or regions are a little bit more competitive than others, but the discrepancy is pretty minimal: much more minimal than most of us want to believe.
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1/29/2014 - Tutorial 60, The Perceived Advantage of Speed
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 60:

This month’s column will take a bit of a “Myth Busters” theme. Like anything, there are a lot of myths about and within our sport. Some myths have validity, some are kind of extreme, and others are rooted in ignorance. In fact, I think ignorance is a good word to describe a lot of myths. Ignorance and stupidity are not interchangeable words. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge or information. I think most of us can agree that many of our sport’s myths are rooted in ignorance.

“It’s easier to win in a dragster.” That myth is often preached by racers who have never driven anything but a door car.

“It’s easier to compete with a delay box.” Most often, this comes from the mouth of a bottom bulb racer.

“The Mopar combination isn’t factored accurately,” said the died-in-the-wool Chevrolet class racer.

With experience and information, and only with experience and information, can we honestly confront common myths and create our own educated opinions. In this column, I’ll share my opinions (based on experience and information) on a handful of common myths.

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12/31/2013 - Tutorial 59, "How Do You Want to Win?"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 59:

Unlike most of the tutorials here on TIBR, where I try to share an idea, philosophy, or strategy that you can apply on the race track or in your race preparation to improve your game as a racer, this column is 100% opinion. It’s not a tutorial, it’s an editorial. I hope that many of you will agree with my opinion, because obviously I think I’m right… But I don’t want this to even come across as a “Here’s how you do it” tutorial. This is an opinion, and trying to sway each of you to believe the same opinion as I do isn’t promoting teaching or learning; it’s promoting a groupthink atmosphere that simply isn’t healthy. You’re each entitled to your own opinion – and you’re entitled to share it via e-mail or the American Race Cars “Strategy Session” forum here on TIBR. My hope is that my words here will provide a little bit of food for thought, as I voice my own personal opinions.
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11/30/2013 - Tutorial 58, "How I Won It"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 58:

It’s been awhile since I made a contribution to the “How I Won It” series here on TIBR, so I thought I’d recap the details of my Super Comp win at the NHRA national event at Summit Raceway Park in Norwalk, OH earlier this season. In this particular event, my starting line driving was atrocious. I won this race, in large part, thanks to some very good fortune; but also due in part to some thoughtful strategy and aggressive finish line driving. I stepped well outside of my comfort zone to do so, but the situation dictated it. We all have bad days on the tree, so I thought this was a good opportunity to walk through some of the things that I did to counter my struggles and ultimately come out on top.
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10/29/2013 - Tutorial 57, The Difference between Bracket Racing and Super/Rod Class Racing
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 57:

In this column, we’ll cover a subject that I’ve given a lot of thought in recent years. Obviously, the reason for that is because bracket racing and super class racing are how I make my living. More bracket racing in previous years, more super class racing today; but I’ve always tried to do a little bit of each. I’ll give a disclaimer up front that I’m not sure this column will have hit home the way that I hope some others here on TIBR have: many of you are strictly bracket racers or strictly index racers. As a result, this column won’t generate a ton of interest from some of you. In addition, even those of you that do dabble in various forms of competition may disagree (sometimes vehemently) with what I’m about to say. That’s OK too. My job here at TIBR is to stimulate thought in an effort to make each of you examine your own racing program more closely. While it may not be in the typical way, I’m confident that this column will accomplish that goal.
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9/24/2013 - Tutorial 56, Discipline & Decisiveness
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 56:

Once we fully comprehend race strategy and have a strong grasp on the fundamentals, the two most important attributes to our on track success are discipline and decisiveness. Discipline comes from the combination of A.) understanding what needs to happen and B.) performing the several small tasks required to do it well.

Discipline increases with practice (assuming that we’re practicing good habits).

Decisiveness is the ability to make a decision and commit to it.

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8/21/2013 - Tutorial 55, "The Triangle of Success"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 55:

A quote from Toughness by Jay Bilas:
”I have heard this from others, and I believe it to be true. At certain times when I played sick or hurt, at less than 100 percent physically, I often performed better than if I had felt my very best. I believe the reason was that, when I played at less than 100 percent physically, I mentally prepared myself differently. I placed a singular focus on what was important to be competitive, and I kept it simple, and didn’t try to do too much.”
-“Toughness” by Jay Bilas

This brings me to my triangle of success in sportsman drag racing. It is my contention that success comes from 3 equally important variables. Those three facets are: Driver, Car, and Preparation.
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7/31/2013 - Tutorial 54, "The Luck Factor"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 54:

Rounds of competition are independent and exclusive. There is one winner, and one loser. While there is some “luck” involved in who we matchup against and when we face them, there isn’t a ton of luck involved each specific matchup. Once we hit the track, racing is essentially 1-on-1, and the driver/car/team that makes the better run is the winner. So by that standard, the racer who put down the losing .008 package didn’t get a bad break; he/she just didn’t do as good a job as his/her opponent.
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6/19/2013 - Tutorial 53, Bracket Racing Etiquette
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 53:

My hope in writing this column is that it might provide a little bit of perspective. I’ve raced all over the country, from the U.S. Nationals to $200-to-win Footbrake races; from mega facilities to outlaw tracks with motion lighting in the shutdown area (true story!). I won’t pretend that I’ve seen it all, but believe me, I’ve seen a lot in this sport. I constantly get a kick out of local competitors who have fallen into a routine of racing etiquette and convinced themselves over time that the things they do are fair and just (and are a fair representation of our sport). When racers handle themselves in a manner that I disagree with, for the most part I don’t think they have ill intentions. I think they’re just ignorant, and they’re so absorbed in their own world that they’re failing to see the big picture. My hope with this column is to dispel a little bit of that ignorance and provide some perspective.
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5/20/2013 - Tutorial 52, Improvement & Success, It's a Process
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 52:

In my mind, the fundamentals for improvement and ultimately success are the same regardless of our stage of development. Using myself as an example again, I’m still learning and trying to improve. I don’t think that ever changes, regardless of your level of success and/or experience. In my opinion, there are just two basic steps to improvement as a driver. My explanation of both will be very detailed, as I believe the steps must be chronological and interdependent upon one another. Put very simply, my keys to improvement and success, regardless of your stage of development, are: Understanding and Execution.
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4/4/2013 - Tutorial 51, "Race Forward"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 51:

Any of you who know me personally know that I’m a huge college hoops fan. As the final four approaches, I find myself both anticipating the biggest weekend of the season, and at the same time disappointed that I’ll have to wait 7 months to enjoy the sport live again. I bring this up because I recently watched a feature on one of the networks in which a few former Duke players talked about coach Mike Krzyzewski; his outlook, and the principles that they learned in their years as Blue Devils. The one thing that really resonated with me was Coach K’s emphasis on playing for the next possession, “play forward.”

I got to thinking about that simple idea, and applied it mentally to our world of sportsman drag racing. How often have you let a previous mistake affect you on the race track? I know that I have done that on numerous occasions. What about getting on a roll and making good runs, then overlooking an opponent or assuming that you’ll make another nice lap only to make a silly mistake? We’ve all done it. But, like most things, I think those that really try to focus on eliminating errors by keeping a consistent approach are the racers who make fewer mistakes and win more often. This is a result of consistent focus, composure, and not allowing previous rounds to impact the current run.

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3/12/2013 - Tutorial 50, Racing Your "Nemesis"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 50:

I think we can all single out at least one Nemesis, and maybe several, based upon the criteria provided above. There are racers who we want to beat because we simply don’t get along with them. That form of motivation can be the trickiest, because there is emotion involved. We all have potential opponents that we regard as the best of the best. Hopefully, we consider this opponent to be our equal (not superior) because we believe we’re pretty good too. Even if we don’t, we have to convince ourselves that it’s one run; and we’re certainly capable of making the better run right here and right now. These opponents are racers that we respect, but should not be racers that we fear.
The third and most common nemesis is the racer who we don’t necessarily feel is head and shoulders above us in terms of skill level, equipment, etc. Yet, for whatever reason, this is a racer that we just can’t seem to beat. Believe me, I know the feeling. I can think of one particular racer that simply has my number. If I post a .002 package, he’ll post a .001. If he red lights, I’ll cross the center line. I just can’t seem to beat him. He’s a good racer, don’t get me wrong, but in my mind no one should beat me 8 times in a row (or however many), and he has.
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2/1/2013 - Tutorial 49, "Racing Similar Speed Opponents"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 49:

In theory, a heads-up or nearly heads-up run should be the “easiest” in which to judge the finish line. In these matchups, our opponent is rarely far away on the race track, so we generally don’t lose sight of them at any point during the run. Plus, there’s usually not great separation, so the rate of closure is either non-existent or very subtle. Generally in a heads-up race the car that is ahead at half track will be the first one to reach the finish line. Yet, many a racer (even very good racers) struggle with heads-up or near heads-up runs more than any other matchup. Within the next few pages I’ll try to decipher exactly why that is the case, and give some suggestions in an effort to improve your game in similar speed contests.
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1/1/2013 - Tutorial 48, "How I Lost It"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 48:

The race that I’m going to detail in this column was actually the last event that I competed in: the NHRA Division 7 Lucas Oil Series event in Las Vegas, NV last November. I came into the event in contention for the NHRA Lucas Oil championship in Super Comp, although admittedly a long shot at the title. Most of you know that I’m not the world champion, so it’s no surprise to any of you at this point that I did not win this event. So this column is not the typical “How I Won It,” in fact it’s more along the lines of “How I lost it.” I’m writing this column for two main reasons. First, it’s sort of therapeutic. The loss wasn’t devastating; I’ve been there before and I realize that the stars had to align for me to pull of the event win and steal the championship. Plus, I don’t feel like I choked; I enjoyed an excellent season and I made a decent run when I lost, it just wasn’t quite good enough. With that said, I did replay the fourth round of this event about 1,000 times on my 2,000 mile ride home over the next three days.

The second, and more important reason that I chose to write about this topic is because I feel like it’s educational. It takes a special competitor to learn from winning; but everyone should be able to learn something from a loss. I learned from this one, and hammered home some theories that I know well, but either chose not to follow or failed to execute. I want to share what I’ve learned with each of you, and ThisIsBracketRacing.com presents the forum to do just that. In the process, hopefully this column makes each of us just a little bit better. That, after all, is what TIBR is all about.

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12/5/2012 - Tutorial 47, "Bracket Racing Vernacular"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 47:

This month I’m going in a different direction entirely. For many of you, particularly those of you who speak the language of sportsman drag racing on a daily basis like I do, this column will be more humorous than enlightening or thought provoking. That’s fine, in fact it’s actually the idea I had in mind when I first had the thought to write it. My reasoning, however, for continuing with the column is that in research and practice it has dawned on me that not every bracket racer speaks this same language. In fact, when I think about it several of the terms and sayings that I and others use to describe various aspects of our sport can be vague, misleading, or completely foreign; not only to the uneducated listener, but even to longtime racers who have always thought of the ins and outs of our sport in more common and concrete terms (dial-in, breakout, reaction time, etc.).
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11/13/2012 - Tutorial 46, "How I Won It" (2012 NHRA Spring Nationals, Super Gas)
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 46:

The race that we’ll talk about this month is actually an event that I’ve been looking forward to writing about since it happened. The race was an NHRA national event this spring in Houston, TX. I managed a win in Super Gas with my (then) brand new Charlie Stewart Race Cars ’63 Corvette Roadster. I wanted to review this event for several reasons. First, I intentionally implemented each of the three basic finish line strategies during the event. Second, this sequence allows us to practice and get some real-world feedback on the weather-based dialing principles we discussed in Tutorial 44. And third, reading Jody Lang’s recent guest tutorial got me really jacked up to get back on the “how I won it” kick! Without further ado, let’s go back to April for the NHRA O’Reilly Spring Nationals. Login Required

10/10/2012 - Tutorial 45, Testing & Tuning to Perfect Our Combination
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 45:

This column is in response to a subscribers recent e-mail request to walk through the process of creating a solid combination in a new race car and/or making our current car more consistent. I referred this reader, as I will each of you, to Tutorial 13 “Making our car more consistent,” but upon rereading that column, I found a handful of things that I wanted to expand upon. I urge each of you to first read or reread Tutorial 13, then come back to this column; it’s more of a supplement than anything.

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9/14/2012 - Tutorial 44, "Dialing for the Conditions"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 44:

The vast majority of the theories and strategies that we discuss here on TIBR are heavily based on knowing what our car will run. If you’ve read for any length of time, you know that we don’t always advocate dialing-in with the exact ET that we predict; but knowing the ET that our car is capable of is critical to any strategy outside of the strict Driver approach.

There are events and situations in which hard data, and a keen awareness of its effect on our combination can be a huge attribute.

Observation, record keeping, and some reliance on weather readings can be a huge benefit to our racing program. In the following pages, I’m going to detail how I analyze conditions like weather, wind, and traction. Like anything on this site, you’re free to put a lot of faith in my findings or dismiss them completely. Rest assured, however, that like anything on this site, I’m telling you exactly what I do and what works best for me. There are plenty of ways to skin the proverbial cat, so I’m not saying that my way is the only way; I’m just sharing what has helped me personally.

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9/13/2012 - Tutorial 44 Supplement (More ET Prediction Practice)
This column is a Supplement to Tutorial 44. If you've read tutorial 44 and would like more practice exercises to perfect your run prediction formula, this is the answer.
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8/8/2012 - Tutorial 43, "How Tight to Set Up"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 43:

We’ve all been there at some point… We’re -.001 in a pivotal round of competition. Inevitably, or so it seems, this is the round that our opponent posts a subpar reaction time, or runs way off their dial, or has mechanical trouble. And we tell ourselves, “Why did I have to go red? Any green light would have won that round!”

Conversely, we’ve all lost those rounds where we’re solid on the tree, but conservative. Let’s say that we’ve been between .015 and .025 all day, but we won’t be any more aggressive. We’re .018 and our opponent is .011, dead on with a 5. We’re a loser despite not really making an error in terms of execution. And we tell ourselves “If I had only been more aggressive on the tree… I had been good all day, why didn’t I step it up and try to be .00?”

The million dollar question (okay, that may be overstating it; but for most of us it could legitimately be a $5,000 question) is this: Where is that happy median? (Authors note: I actually wasted about half an hour researching whether the correct wording is “happy median” or “happy medium.” The experts go both ways, I’m rolling with “median…” If you don’t like it, mentally substitute “medium”). How tight should we be set up on the tree?

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7/12/2012 - Tutorial 42, "How I Won It: 2008 IHRA Mopar Canadian Nationals"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 42:

This month, I’ll detail one of the more interesting and memorable national event wins in my career, a Stock Eliminator triumph on my only racing adventure outside of the United States. This comes from 2008, when I drove Bryan Robinson’s Stock Eliminator Nova to the win at Grand Bend Motorplex, home of the IHRA Mopar Canadian Nationals.
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6/6/2012 - Tutorial 41, "Strategize for the 99% (not the 1%)"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 41:

In this month’s column, we’re going to talk about race strategy (shocker, huh?). I may surprise each of you a little bit this month, however. At times it seems that it’s almost against the very nature of TIBR, but this month we’re going to talk about keeping things simple. I think that it’s a common pitfall for each of us, myself included, to over-analyze things and make racing a little bit more difficult than it already is. I’ll do my best to explain.

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5/10/2012 - Tutorial 40, "Setting and Pursuing Goals"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 40:

In this month’s column, I’m going to discuss the idea of setting and pursuing goals as they apply to our on-track competition and overall racing program. We’ll touch on topics you’ve undoubtedly thought about, read about, or discussed in various walks of life: short term goals, long term goals, result based goals, and process goals. Obviously since we’re here on ThisIsBracketRacing.com I’ll center the thought process around racing, although I’m a firm believer that goal setting is a great motivator in just about any pursuit.
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4/9/2012 - Tutorial 39, "Analyzing Your Opponents"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 39:

What you read in the following Ohlins Monthy Tutorial is not Step 1. Far from it. What I’ll discuss in the upcoming pages has roots in Tutorial 6, 7, 8 and 9 (the true foundation of TIBR). If you’re not well versed in those basic ideas, and/or you haven’t reached a point in your racing career where you feel comfortable executing each of the basic strategies with precision, be careful not to get ahead of yourself. There’s nothing wrong if you’re not to this point, it doesn’t mean you’re behind the curve. Everyone has different levels of experience, natural talent, and we all progress at a different pace. That’s what TIBR is all about. I just wanted to offer the disclaimer because as racers, we’re not ready to worry about what’s going on in the other lane until we’re supremely confident in our ability to execute on our own side of the track. Skipping over the introductory columns and focusing on implementing what we talk about today would be like stepping into the batter’s box and worrying about what pitch is coming when we can’t hit the ball off a tee. We spend a bunch of time overanalyzing a situation that is way beyond our current skill level. Always focus on improving your mastery of the fundamentals before moving on to the next level.
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3/5/2012 - Tutorial 38, "My First National Event"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 38:

The topic for this month’s column comes from a suggestion by one of our subscribers. In a nutshell, what the subscriber asked for were tips for the sportsman racer who would be attending their first national event. Since the vast majority of our subscriber base has a fair amount of racing experience, I’m going to assume that the national event rookie is not necessarily a newcomer to racing. There are many racers (I can include myself in this group) who will have a great deal of experience on the local and regional level before throwing their hat into the ring of national event competition. So, if you’re an experienced (and hopefully somewhat successful) bracket racer who is either ready to make the jump into national event competition or has done so in the past without success, this column is for you. Hopefully each of you can draw on my experience and observations to help speed up the learning curve!
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2/2/2012 - Tutorial 37, "How I Won It"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 37:

“How I Won It” is a pretty cool idea; it allows winning racers to take us through their victory on a round by round basis. This gives us some insight to the real-world application of many of the principles we’ve discussed here on TIBR, and of course some new ideas to digest. Between myself and our fantastic roster of guest instructors we should be able to cover all sorts of different forms of competition and various scenarios. For this month’s column, the race that I’m going to dissect was a fairly recent victory in a $5,000 1/8th mile event at last season’s Palm Beach International Raceway 5-Day event.
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1/3/2012 - Tutorial 36, "Conspiracy Theory"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 36:

In racing, sportsman racing in particular, it’s common for the “little guy” (the 99%) to point fingers at the “big guy” (the 1%). The 1% is the racer that wins more often; or the racer with a sponsor; or the racer with the newer, more advanced equipment; or the racer that has more than one car or competes in more than one class. The common complaint that we hear in the pits is that (insert name here) only wins because he or she has better equipment than we do. Or because he or she gets all the breaks. Or because he or she has something on his or her car the rest of us don’t. Or better yet: because he or she is cheating.

“Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it’s a conspiracy.”

People are successful for a reason. Take whoever you view as the best racer you know. What makes them great? Successful people in the racing community (or in just about any pursuit) have dedicated their lives to their passion and the pursuit of excellence in their chosen field.

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12/6/2011 - Tutorial 35, "The Perfect Weapon"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 35:

I’m going to approach the topic from the standpoint of someone who is starting with a completely blank page, an empty trailer. This individual wants to go racing, and wants to be as successful as possible with the least investment necessary. In my examples, I’m going to describe my thought process in that order: success is the top priority. We’ll keep cost effectiveness in mind, but we’ll assume that initial cost isn’t a major concern. With that in mind, where does he or she begin?

I’ll preface my thoughts by noting that I certainly realize what I’m characterizing is the perfect situation in a highly imperfect world. In reality, most of us are handcuffed to a particular racing vehicle or at least a genre of competition vehicles due to economic constraints, individual talents or preferences, sponsorship obligations, and in many instances an emotional bond to a machine that’s been a part of the family, so to speak, or that we’ve invested countless hours of labor and love that can never be replaced. Believe me, I get that. But this column is going to look beyond that. If we truly had a blank page, what vehicle would give us the best tool for the job, and why?

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11/1/2011 - Tutorial 34, "Chutes & Ladders"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 34:

I apologize for the cheesy title; I just thought I could tie it in somehow. This month, we’re going to talk about ladders, and manipulating where we fall on a competition ladder in an attempt to position ourselves for potential bye runs throughout eliminations and at times to avoid opponents that we’d rather not compete against until the late rounds (if at all). This column doesn’t really have anything to do with chutes, although some of our cars are equipped with parachutes to help us get them whoa’d up after a pass. Given that tie in, and the beloved board game (“Chutes and Ladders”), I thought my title was somewhat clever. I digress…
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10/3/2011 - Tutorial 33, "Don't Think"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 33:

“You know what your problem is in racing? You’re thinking too much. You’ll do better if you just don’t think.” We’ve probably all heard people say that; our family, our crew, fellow competitors, maybe even winning racers. That statement as a whole is absolutely ridiculous. I’d like to see the author of the above statement drive a vehicle to the end of their street without thinking. I have little doubt it would end in an insurance claim.
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9/6/2011 - Tutorial 32, "Performing Under Pressure"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 32:

Pressure comes in various shapes and sizes. I think we can all associate pressure with competition, and to an extent we measure athletes based largely upon their performance when the spotlight is at its brightest. Most sports fans can picture Michael Jordan raising up to hit that crazy, fading jumper from the free throw line extended over Craig Ehlo as time expired to send his Bulls past the Cleveland Cavaliers in a deciding Game 5 during the 1989 NBA playoffs. Just as engrained in our minds is the image of Bill Buckner letting Mookie Wilson’s ground ball slip through the five-hole to doom the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series.
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8/9/2011 - Tutorial 31, "Forcing" Opponents to Race You Differently
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 31:

What I started seeing as the event progressed was a change in the strategy of my opponents. Suddenly, most of my opponents were dialing up to run me. Can you blame them? Any self respecting, competitive racer with half a clue what’s going on wouldn’t dial honest against a racer they knew could run .08-under their dial-in. That’s common sense: when racing against a “Driver,” we all know that the textbook play is that of the “Spot Dropper.” Right?
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7/1/2011 - Tutorial 30, "When You're Struggling"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 30:

I think the time has come to tackle the elephant in the room. We all go through it from time to time. No matter who we are, what our skill level is, or how successful we’ve been on the race track, we all have down times. At some point, we all struggle, and every racer goes through a “slump” at one time or another. Our struggles can come in a myriad of forms, as there are a lot of ways to lose in our sport. Sometimes, we just fall apart on the starting line and can’t string together competitive reaction times. Other times, we simply can’t get a grip on the finish line and constantly make mistakes on that end of the track. There are times when our competition vehicle won’t cooperate, and the car isn’t consistent enough to be competitive on a regular basis. Sometimes it all converges at once and we can’t seem to do ANYTHING right. Still yet, sometimes we feel like our program is pretty strong, but seemingly every opponent is a little bit stronger. The end result is the same; we’re not winning. How can we bust the slump?
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5/31/2011 - Tutorial 29, Using the Bump Down to Our Advantage
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 30:

Let’s assume you’re a racer that just purchased your first “Bump Down” (other manufacturers call this feature a “Tap Down” or other titles; same principle) equipped delay box, or that you’ve had a box that includes the feature for years but you’ve been apprehensive about using it. No one is perfect on the starting line, so I believe anyone stands to benefit from the aid of the bump down button; but we have to train ourselves to be disciplined when using it.
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5/2/2011 - Tutorial 28, Fluid Strategic Decisions
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 28: In this months column, I don’t intend to unearth a lot of new material and information. What we’ll talk about in the following pages is a lot of the same strategies and techniques I’ve discussed here before. This month, I’m going to use some recent personal experience that I feel reinforces a lot of the ideas we talk about here on the website. The last month of racing has been a bit of an eye-opening experience for me personally. While I feel like I’ve got a very good grasp on the strategy and nuances of this game, I’ve had several rounds of competition that reminded me how easy it is to get on the wrong track. By analyzing these situations, I feel like I’ve learned and grown as a racer. I thought I’d share some of these thoughts with the hopes that each of you could also gain some insight and experience from taking a look at each round through my eyes.
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4/6/2011 - Tutorial 27, Racing Economics: Build Your Own Empire (Part 3)
Part 3 (of 3) in the Racing Economics: Build Your Own Empire Series. In Part 3 of the Racing Economics diatribe, Luke focuses on two topics that are essentially unrelated (except for having a direct result on the financial well-being of our racing endeavors). Those topics are: Sponsorship and Deciding where to race.

A brief excerpt from Tutorial 27:
Sponsorship (I’ll often use the more politically correct term of “marketing partnership”) has to be a two way street. In order for the agreement to grow and flourish, it has to benefit both parties involved. On our end that means that we have to benefit from the agreement enough that it’s worthy of our time and energy (so don’t sell yourself short). On the other side, it means that we need to go above and beyond in fulfilling our obligations to these sponsors. They need to see the benefits that we’ve promised, plus some added incentives that we’ve created. If we can pull this off, we all but guarantee a longterm, mutually beneficial relationship.
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3/3/2011 - Tutorial 26, "Super" Class Thoughts & Strategies (Part 2)
Part 2 of a 2-part series on Super Class strategy...

A brief excerpt from Tutorial 26:
My personal vehicles have always been built more for bracket competition than anything else. And while I had done some testing for the .90 classes in the past, I never put in the time and effort to make my throttle stop combination any more than competitive. Generally, I felt like I had decent “.90” cars beneath me, but I don’t ever remember believing that I had the best car at the track. As a result, I often staged for rounds of .90 competition with the belief that I could run… Under the index (and that was all I really knew)! With that approach, I enjoyed mixed success: several event wins, and a handful of division championships. But I never was a real threat to win week in and week out.

Then, I built and tested a car exclusively for 8.90 competition; and developed a combination I could trust in throttle stop competition. With such a great hot rod, I was no longer handcuffed to the “Driver” strategy. With years of using that approach, I still had that club in the bag when the situation dictated its use, but with such a great race car I now had options. I could implement the “Dialer” and “Spot Dropper” strategies with precision. And with that, I became the rarity in the “Super” classes: a monster. That’s what we’re going to talk about this month; the advantaged of creating and perfecting a competitive .90 class combination.
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2/2/2011 - Tutorial 25, Racing Economics: Build Your Own Empire (Part 2)
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 25, Racing Economics: Build Your Own Empire (Part 2)

"Within Tutorial 23, I harped on an anti-debt theme that I believe is the core fundamental to success and peace in any business (particularly racing in our case). I also provided my personal recipe for success; sort of a step-by-step order in which I feel like sportsman racers should progress through the ranks. The biggest idea to remember, as far as I’m concerned, is to find a balance between success (winning races or least being competitive) and improvement (challenging ourselves by racing in events or categories that are more difficult to have success within). That idea is paramount in my opinion, regardless of our skill level, accomplishments, equipment, class, sanction, or series."

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1/5/2011 - Tutorial 24, "Super" Class Thoughts & Strategies (Part 1)
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 24 - Super Class Racing Thoughts & Strategies (Part 1):

Throttle stops inherently make cars less consistent (than running them wide open), which opens up competition in the .90 categories. Plus, the nature of NHRA and IHRA events mean that rounds are generally spread out over several hours or days, making it that much harder for racers to accurately predict the E.T. of their upcoming runs. The good news is that our opponents don’t generally make runs that are as solid (in terms of small packages) as we’re accustomed to seeing in bracket competition. The bad news is that it’s harder to make good runs ourselves!

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12/7/2010 - Tutorial 23, Racing Economics: Build Your Own Empire!
December, 2010 Ohlins Monthly Tutorial, by Luke Bogacki
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11/4/2010 - Tutorial 22, Compartmentalizing Our Routine (and Run)
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 22:

We could list out literally hundreds of objectives for each run down the race track, and dozens of different variables that could trigger thousands of different reactions and decisions from us as a driver. How can we possibly remember all of this stuff and make the correct moves all day long?

The solution that I’ll illustrate is to break your routine and decision making process into segments; to compartmentalize. Anyone who is successful in what they do performs these simple mental tasks each and every day. To achieve positive results we break our large project down into small tasks and approach each task individually. By doing so, we can take a huge list of objectives and create a much smaller, more precise agenda. Once we handle that agenda, we’ll move on to the next. In doing so, we not only eliminate some of the intimidation from the size of the total project, we also place more attention to detail on the individual steps needed to complete the entire process, hence improving the final result.

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10/5/2010 - Tutorial 21, Taking Your Show on the Road
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 21: Taking your Show on the Road

This month’s column is about making the progression from a winning local weekly racer to a competitive traveling racer (whether you take on that challenge weekly, once a month, or once a year). In theory, and in practice, there isn’t a huge difference between winning a Saturday night Super Pro event at your home track and winning a $10,000 race two states away, or the NHRA E.T. Finals, or the U.S. Nationals. The game doesn’t change: the same objectives, strategies, and principles that we discuss here on TIBR apply to each of those venues. A good run is a good run, regardless of the stage.

With that said, there are subtle differences between local competition and the bigger events. Some of these differences are tangible, some are intangible. Some of the challenges presented are physical, but like most things related to racing, most are mental. I’ll do my best to outline the subtle changes in preparation, mindset, strategy, and execution that go into winning at the higher level events.

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9/7/2010 - Tutorial 20, Fine Tuning Our Starting Lines Skills (Part 2)
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 20, Fine Tuning Our Starting Line Skills (Part 2)

In our last column (Tutorial 19, in which we discussed top bulb reaction time skills), two words were used repeatedly: Focus and Discipline. We harped on focus, and mentioned discipline in the staging process, physical mechanics, and using the bump down & bump up features. Bottom bulb racing requires just as much focus as top bulb racing; that alone doesn’t make bottom bulb racing more difficult. Racing on the bottom, however, requires a great deal more discipline. And, in my opinion, the lack of discipline in bottom bulb competition results in more inconsistent reaction times than anything.

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8/3/2010 - Tutorial 19, Fine Tuning Our Starting Lines Skills (Part 1)
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 19: Fine Tuning Our Starting Line Skills (Part 1)...

Like I said before, consistently reacting to a light coming on isn’t rocket science; it’s a very simple concept. Yet, we can all reference ways we’ve overcomplicated this simple act and basically talked ourselves out of doing it. It’s not difficult: see light, release button. Anything else that’s going through our mind at that split second only detracts from our ability to perform the task at hand.
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7/6/2010 - Tutorial 18, "When, Where, & Why?"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 18, When, Where, & Why:

This month’s column is more geared toward those of you who are comfortable and confident implementing each of the three basic strategies: the dialer, the driver, and the spot dropper. Once we reach that point, where we can execute any strategy with precision, it's time to really put some thought into the choosing the best strategy for each on-track situation.

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6/3/2010 - Tutorial 17, Strategic Adjustments for 1/8th Mile & 1/4 Mile Racing
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 17, Strategic Adjustments for 1/8th Mile & 1/4 Mile Racing

Just as a basic test to spur some thought process on the subject, let’s start with this simple question…Regardless of your class or category, would a reaction time advantage be more likely to sway the outcome of a particular round of racing into your favor in eighth-mile competition or quarter-mile competition?

The correct answer is eighth-mile competition. While I think we can all agree that reaction time plays a crucial role in the outcome of any bracket-style event, it is much more critical in eighth-mile competition. A significant reaction time advantage gives you a huge advantage in eighth-mile competition. Equally, a reaction time deficit can prove nearly insurmountable.
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5/4/2010 - Tutorial 16, "The 'Dialer' Revisited"
May 2010 Tutorial, by Luke Bogacki
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4/7/2010 - Tutorial 15, Nitrous Oxide Tricks & Techniques
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 15, Nitrous Oxide Tricks & Techniques

The main advantage to having nitrous oxide in classes where it’s use is allowed is that it allows us to be deceptive. In order to deceive an upcoming opponent, they have to be paying attention. The racer who strictly focuses on their own program with little or no regard to their opponents cannot be deceived. Most successful racers, however (myself included), like to study opponents. As I’ve said before, I like to have the answers before I take the test. So, being able to manipulate your cars ET can be extremely beneficial. There are several ways to manipulate E.T. without broadcasting it in your dial-in. Nitrous oxide, however, is really the only way that you can change the complexion of the race at any point during the run by manipulating your track position.

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3/3/2010 - Tutorial 14, Giving the Car a Fighting Chance
March 2010 Tutorial, By Luke Bogacki
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2/1/2010 - Tutorial 13, Making the Car More Consistent
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 13:

I’m not an expert, but I do feel like I’m very capable of making a car very consistent: that’s been a huge key to my on track success. What you’ll find in this column isn’t any information that comes from a book. And most of it isn’t information that I picked up from other racers; like I said, I rarely assume anything to be true until I try it myself. So most of what I’ll share has come directly from trial and error.

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1/5/2010 - Tutorial 12, Strategies For Inconsistent Cars
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 12, Strategies for Inconsistent Cars:

As a general rule, I’d say the less consistent your car is, the more aggressive you have to be (on both ends of the race track). Like we’ve said before, it’s all math. There are three main parts to the equation: It’s a combination of reaction time and either elapsed time in reference to your dial in, or finish margin in reference to your opponent. The smaller the sum is to that equation, the better chance we have of victory. So, when we’re giving away some in one portion of the equation (with an inconsistent car), we have to really focus on making the other two (reaction time & finish margin) as tight as possible.

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12/2/2009 - Tutorial 11, More Options
December 2009 Tutorial, By Luke Bogacki
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11/4/2009 - Tutorial 10, Giving Yourself Options
November 2009 Tutorial, by Luke Bogacki
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10/9/2009 - Tutorial 9, Becoming a "Monster"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 9: Becoming a "Monster"

Anyone who has ever won a race on any level is capable of executing at least one of the three basic strategies that we've described (The 'dialer', The 'Driver', The 'Spot Dropper') with some degree of success. However, the consistent winners are the drivers who are adept at all three of these strategies (and variations of all three), and are willing to implement various game plans as the situation calls for them. Today’s column is going to about the “Monster.” The “Monster” isn’t a dialer, a driver, or a spot-dropper. The “Monster” is all three rolled into one. The “Monster” is the guy you don’t want to race, because the “Monster” is going to make an excellent run that is hard to beat, and you can’t plan for it; because he’s subject to do anything. Scotty Richardson is a monster. Peter Biondo is a monster. Each of our guest instructors on TIBR are monsters. And there are several more in various forms of bracket competition throughout the country. You want to become a monster, but where do we start?

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9/2/2009 - Tutorial 8, Basic Race Strategy: "The Spot Dropper"
September 2009 Tutorial, by Luke Bogacki
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8/6/2009 - Tutorial 7, Basic Race Strategy: "The Driver"
August 2009 Tutorial, by Luke Bogacki
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7/6/2009 - Tutorial 6, Basic Race Strategy: "The Dialer"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 6:

The goal of the dialer is to be .00 and make a wide open run to be dead-on his or her predicted dial-in each round of competition. Generally speaking, the dialer doesn’t put the burden on their shoulders to make great decisions or perfectly execute in terms of finish line driving. The dialer is dependant on their starting line ability and the consistency of their machine to repeatedly make good runs. Being a dialer makes finish line decisions simple...

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6/4/2009 - Tutorial 5, The Finish Line
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 5, The Finish Line: “Successful finish line driving is such a struggle to most (and it’s an ongoing challenge to everyone), that I think we all need to work on some things and practice ‘driving’ the finish line before we muddle up our minds with the decision making process. So, for the purpose of this column, your mind is made up in terms of where you want to be at the finish line: we’re just going to focus on executing game plans.”
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5/4/2009 - Tutorial 4 "Reading & Understanding the Timeslip"
A brief excerpt from TIBR Written Tutorial #4 – Reading & Understanding the time slip:

“Some of you are information freaks: you try to detail every facet of every run and you may have a number of racing related products and resources to help you do that (log books, weather stations, run-predictors, data loggers, temperature guns, and other devices that attempt to isolate as many of the variables that go into making consistent runs as possible). Some of you may fly completely by the seat of your pants. Most of us fall somewhere in between; we’ve got a handful of methods for gathering information, and from that information we attempt to make educated decisions. The one thing we all have is our time slip from the previous round. So, let’s start our focus on making sure that we can get all of the useful data available from that small piece of paper.”

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4/1/2009 - Tutorial 3 "Developing a Positive Routine"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 3, Developing a Positive Routine

"Everything that we’ve talked about on this website for the last three months, and everything we’ll talk about in the future is aimed at making the proper decisions, processing information, and executing a game plan during a drag race that will last somewhere between four and eleven seconds, total. That’s a lot of work and thought that we’re trying to implement for a very brief interval. So, it goes without saying, that for those 4-11 seconds (and the roughly two seconds that lead up to that interval), it is imperative that we reach a level of focus and concentration that allows us to maximize our abilities for that short period of time. We need to be able to get into “the zone” for a very brief period of time. To me, developing a quality routine is the key component to being able to constantly reach that “zone” on every run down the race track."

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3/2/2009 - Tutorial 2 "The importance of Staging"
March 2009 Tutorial, by Luke Bogacki
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2/1/2009 - Tutorial 1 "The Math of Bracket Racing"
A brief excerpt from Tutorial 1:

A clear understanding of what makes the win light turn on in one lane and not the other is the core principle that the majority of these TIBR columns will build upon. It seems very simple, and in reality it is, but I am constantly amazed by how many racers, winning racers even, who do not completely understand this basic point.

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