Which is Better for Drag Racing...Stick or Automatic?


While automatics equipped drag race cars, including those with a "transbrake", seem to be the choice for many, there are still some people who know how to properly launch a stick car and can row the gears with Rolex precision. Here is one of those driver's.

Part of the reason automatics have such a big following is "dropping the clutch" places an immediate "hammering" to the drive train, sometimes with disastrous effects. 
To prevent the car from creeping forward, a "line-lock" keeps the front brakes locked until the driver releases an electrically powered button. Another reason is, it takes a great deal of coordination to follow the countdown of the starting lights, rev the engine to the correct launch RPM and release the "line-lock" and clutch with millisecond accuracy.

Conversely in an automatic equipped car, which relies on foot braking to hold the car in place, the driver can increase the engine RPM while pre-loading the drive train against the immediate shock of "dropping the clutch. 

The coordination necessary to launch "on green" is significantly reduced. While this combination reduces the initial shock and simplifies launch, the entire process relies on properly matching mechanical systems to maximize results. This is a video of a foot braked automatic car.

In a transbrake/automatic equipped car, the automatic is "locked" in both forward and reverse, allowing the driver to holding the car still, but like in a stick shift car, the drive train remains still and in most cases unloaded. To prevent "over-reving" the engine, the system relies on an electronic "rev-limiter", which makes the engine sound as if it is sputtering. Similar to operating a "line-lock", when the driver releases the "transbrake switch" forward motion is instantaneous. This is a video of a trans/brake automatic car.