It’s always important to get a good start, and even the best drivers in the world can get it wrong. Starting a 440 yard dash from a standing start is no mean fete – be it by car or motorcycle. To the untrained eye, it may not seem much of a challenge, but for anyone who takes part it, or regularly watches motorsport, they will know different. With the moonlight sprint, a good start is crucial.
It is commonly said amongst the sprinting community – “the clock is running fastest, when the vehicle is running slowest.” It takes only a few hundredths of a second to be lost during those first 20 yards, and you’re suddenly a couple of tenths behind by the time you see the finishing line.
Maximising the revs whilst feeding in the clutch at a controlled rate is easier said than done, but it will give you the best effect. If you were to release the clutch too quickly in a car (dumping), then the back wheels will spin with no great effect, other than creating an impressive smoke screen. Spectacular and memorable, it may be, but not what a driver really wants. With a bike, rear wheel spin is not generally a problem as most of the weight of the bike and rider is transferred to the rear tyre giving good grip, however the front wheel can then rise up dramatically to produce a “wheelie.” Again – impressive, but not the effect that the rider wants in this situation. The natural reaction for most riders is to dip the throttle momentarily, losing both power and valuable time. For this reason, riders will often been seen leaning forward over the tank and handlebars at the beginning of a sprint, so as to minimize any wheel lift.
After the launch it all comes down to going through the gears at near-on maximum revs. It’s essential to have a good gear box, as some can become sticky and difficult when operating near the maximum revs. Gearing should be optimized for the distance involved, with good acceleration off the line and sufficient top speed.
Over the quarter of a mile, all vehicles are timed and their terminal speed recorded, which can easily exceed 100mph. All drivers and riders are looking for that “one good run” – where everything goes to plan. A personal best is always satisfying, no matter how small.
The moonlight sprint features a great variety of classic cars and bikes. Eligibility is based on manufactured date – for cars, they must be manufactured before 1993 and for motorcycles, before 1984. All vehicles are split into various classes, depending on their year of manufacture and cubic capacity.