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What you need to know about - Electronics and Cheating
by Family Software ©2000

    Recently, there has been a lot of discussion concerning the racers who were caught cheating at the Moroso race at the end of 1999. Well, the cheating has been going on for a very long time (forever) and the sanctioning bodies are directly responsible for allowing it. Okay, they tear us down and look, but do they know what they are looking at? More importantly, should they be allowing the manufacturers (sponsors) to be building and selling illegal and/or potentially illegal devices to the racers? Did you know that they are doing just that?

    Some of the larger manufacturers of electronic components have gone too far, and are "testing the waters" so to speak. They are producing "SUPER DELUXE" delay boxes and other electronic devices that are, in fact, single board computers which collect engine RPM data, elapsed time data, while controlling multiple functions on the race car such as the shifter, ignition timing, and multiple throttle stops. They also have in cockpit digital displays! By definition, these new boxes are totally illegal, but the sanctioning bodies sit back and watch the aftermath because they want the advertising dollars and the sponsorship dollars. Or, are we to believe that no one knows what is going on? These manufactures are even claiming in their advertisements and product descriptions that their products have these features. NHRA's rule book clearly states:

    9:1 COMPUTER ... no vehicles may be equipped with computers that in any way affect the operation of the vehicle. ... A computer is defined as any device that activates any function of, or in any way affects the operation of, the vehicle based on measurement, sensing, processing, etc., of any data related to the performance of the vehicle. Display or transmission of any data gathered or processed, to the driver, or any remote location is prohibited.

    In other words, if you have a box that records Engine RPM and TIME, it better not be connected to, or be controlling, the shifter, the ignition timing, the throttle stop, a digital display in the cockpit, or anything else. This includes the new microprocesser controlled tachometers with digital displays! Can it be any clearer? Hello out there! Is anyone listening yet?

    -- Who is running this sport, the Sanctioning Bodies or the Manufactuers? --
    To NHRA and IHRA: How much easier can it be, to tech for these devices? Come on guys, if the box has sensors going into it, it cannot have any wires coming out of it, that go to any other device on the car! Those are the rules, and it can be seen with the naked eye. Don't hire a so-called "computer expert." Hire someone with real world knowledge and lots of common sense!

    I'm NOT saying that ALL of these manufacturers are intentionally developing cheating devices (though some of them are), but by re-programming the program chip in one of these boxes, anyone with any computer knowledge can then use the device to alter and actually determine what the EXACT elapsed time of the vehicle will be. You saw it happen at Moroso, I can guarantee it! If something is not done right now, I believe that sportsman drag racing is doomed. It is already permanently flawed. Do you think it is not being done?

    One enterprising racer was actually awarded a United States Patent for a drag racing cheating device in 1991. Here is an exact reprint direct from the US Patent Office:

    Drag Race Analyzer
    United States Patent # 5,051,935 - Date Awarded: 9/24/91

    An apparatus for automatically and continuously projecting an elapsed time in which a vehicle traveling over a racecourse will complete the course, wherein a difference between the projected elapsed time and a predicted time is continuously displayed to a driver of the vehicle, so that the driver can adjust the speed of the vehicle as needed during a race to approximate the predicted time. A plurality of magnets are mounted on a drive shaft of the vehicle in a circumferentially spaced relationship. A pickup coil is mounted adjacent to the magnets to detect movement of the magnets past the coil for measuring the distance traveled by the vehicle. A computer is electrically connected to the pickup coil and collects data from the coil for continuously calculating a difference between the projected elapsed time and the predicted time during a race. A motion switch is electrically connected to the computer and detects forward movement of the vehicle at the start of a race for automatically actuating the computer. A light gage is electrically connected to the computer and includes a set of red lights and a set of green lights which, when illuminated, indicate that the projected elapsed time is faster or slower, respectively, than the predicted time in 0.01 second increments. When one or more of the red or green lights are illuminated, the driver can decrease or increase the speed of the vehicle, respectively, so that the elapsed time approximates the predicted time at the end of a race.
    Inventors: Matty; Richard D. (xxxxx Xxxxxx Rd., Marshallville, OH xxxxx)
    Appl. No.: 356845 Filed: May 25, 1989

    -- Rumors or Fact? --
    There are those in the sport who believe that the cheating is just rumor, because they haven't seen it with their own eyes. Well, I've seen it with my own eyes!

    The first cheating box that I ever saw, was manufactured on the east coast and was actually advertised for sale in National Dragster for several weeks. Honest to God. It was the "Time to RPM" box. This box was very prevalent a few years ago. It worked very well in the bracket classes. You could set a pre-determined engine RPM and when the engine RPM was reached, the actual elapsed time to RPM was reported on a digital LCD readout inside the car. The elapsed time had a resolution of 1/1000ths of a second. If the reported "number" was lower than the driver expected to see, he knew he was on a "breakout" pass and vice versa. Remember when some drivers were looking between their knees instead of looking down the track? Did you ever see a very successful racer whack the throttle a couple times at the eighth mile, while the car he was running against was two (2) car lengths in FRONT of him, and go on to win the round? HELLO again!

    -- Electronics and Cheating, Part 2 --
    In the last newsletter, we discussed electronics and cheating. I forwarded the newsletter to the Competition Departments at NHRA and IHRA and to NHRA Division 1. There wasn't any response and none was expected. If you want to save Sportsman drag racing, it is all up to YOU. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." If you don't yell loud enough, nothing is going to happen. In the article, there was a reference to a US Patent for a drag racing electronic cheating device, called Drag Race Analyzer. The patent was awarded to:

    Inventors: Matty; Richard D. (xxxxx Xxxxxx Rd., Marshallville, OH xxxxx)
    Appl. No.: 356845 Filed: May 25, 1989

    Yesterday, I happened to be reading an article in the December 30, 1999 issue of Drag News Magazine beginning on page 22 as follows:

    "Beech Bend's Tenn-Tuck series fought rain through part of the final weekend in October, but they managed to get the entire event completed with the help and cooperation of the racers."

    "In Friday's Second Chance event, RICH MATTY, MARSHALLVILLE, OH, got the win. His 99 Adkins dragster ran 6.578 at 104.65 mph (.505 RT)."

    Sunday's "Second Chance was won by RICH MATTY, MARSHALLVILLE, OH, once again. His 99 Adkins dragster went 6.547 at 104.65 mph (.516 RT)."

    Coincidence? Who Knows? But, extremely interesting to say the least! I'm only reporting the facts. I'm not saying that ANYONE in particular is cheating. It is not for me to say. But, give me 10 minutes to examine anyone's car, and I'll tell you for sure.

    If we allow the manufacturers to continue to sell delay boxes that are no longer timers, but computers which are collecting RPM data and controlling all the functions on the race car, we have a major problem. Because the sanctioning bodies are allowing these devices to be sold and installed on the car, they are then legal. HOW ARE WE TO KNOW WHAT IS REALLY INSIDE THE BOX? Think about it folks. You are allowed to have a box with a computer inside of it that moniters RPM and TIME, and then controls the ignition timing, the shifter, the throttle stop, the trans brake solenoid, a 2-Step, and who knows what else. You don't have to be a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist to figure this out. NHRA and IHRA have to BAN these delay boxes and digital tachometers, or our sport is doomed. NHRA and IHRA, pay attention! This is a MAJOR problem for the Sportsman racer.

    By: Family Software ©2000

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Other Resources: Psyched Out! The psychology of drag racing, Art of Cheating

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