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The Starting Line: Volume 1 - Issue 6

The Starting Line

The Starting Line is a biweekly column for our Sportsman drag racers brought to you by Schnitz Racing. Every other week we will feature a frequently asked question and have it answered by a panel of experienced sportsman racers, led by Ben Knight. Having questions answered by multiple racers will give our new racers several perspectives on the information they want.

April 21, 2014

Does a practice tree really help with your reaction time and do you have any tips to how to use it?


If you have a bike that leaves on a button or you just throw the clutch lever, yes a practice tree will help a lot. The key is to have the practice tree set up with the same roll out time as your bike. Best way to figure that out, is go on a pro tree with your bike at the track and adjust your practice tree rollout to make the reaction time the same as you ran on the track. Once you have the rollout set right, your ready to practice on full or pro tree. If your bike has a button, make sure you practice with the same finger you use on the bike. If you are throwing the clutch, use one of the left fingers you use on the clutch lever.

If you are slipping the clutch, then no, the practice tree will not help. I feel it will make you jerky on the clutch, cause you to bog, or wheelie. Best practice will be on the track.

BooAnything that includes the word 'practice', can help your racing. A practice tree is more geared towards a pro tree or someone leaving off of a button. Take your practice to the track.

BenThere are basically two different versions of a practice tree and those would be a hand held version or a full size tree. Most practice trees will have you hold a button and release it when the tree is activated to determine your reaction time. For those of you who ride a hand clutch bike you might not think this could be of help since you are letting go of a button instead of slipping a clutch handle. However, practicing consistency and visualizing your staging procedure is always a great way to improve yourself. Making your routine become a second nature is what I think is important and I don’t think a practice tree hurts. The use of a practice tree can really be beneficial to those racers who are releasing a button on their bike since they are simulating a very comparable routine. When practicing on a full size tree, I actually like to put my helmet on to really get used to how I see the bulbs. I also will alternate between night time and day time settings.

JanieI have a practice tree and have used it only a few times. Its like anything else, personal preference. I think when you are new to bracket racing this may be a way to get used to how the lights work. I don't find that using it or not using it helps or doesn't help with my reaction time when I am actually at the track racing. Its like anything in life I think, maybe if I were to stick to using it for more than 20 minutes once every year I may start to cut .000 lights consistently vs .010 lights. Who knows try it out!

DustinI think a practice tree can be a great way of improving your reactions on a race track. I bet several if not all racers have the app on there phone or a practice tree somewhere! The best way to use it is set it up as close to your bike as possible. This way when you go to the track you don't have to change when you leave/hit on the tree! Hope this helps be safe see ya at the track!

JerryWell, I hope they help. My daughter will be racing a Junior Dragster this year and I’ve had her using a practice tree all winter. As a matter of fact, I bought a couple parts this week to mount a switch on her gas pedal so she can sit in the car and use the practice tree. I would like it to be as realistic as possible. That being said, you will need to set the rollout of the practice tree to match your bike as close as you can. The only way I know to do that is trial and error and experience. I do believe a practice tree helps for several reasons. For example, I had a problem bracket racing bikes that were leaving a couple tenths before I did. Honestly, it was a concentration problem. My practice tree lets me set my time and my opponent’s time and after a few hundred hits, I feel that I was better able to ignore the other side of the tree. Another suggestion, take a practice tree to the loudest most distracting place you can and practice there. Why? Because there is nothing more distracting than the starting line at a drag race.

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