Dragracing was born in the USA after world war 2. It was basically a competition
of who gets away from the traffic lights first and has the most powerful car to
pull away from the other. To make things more safe the Police and a new
organization named NHRA took this activity from the streets to the airfields in
the 1950's. Two cars standing side by side are started with a "Christmas Tree"
starting light that first indicates the proper starting position and then gives
you yellow light followed by green. Don't leave the starting line before green
because that is a foul start that gives you a red light that means automatic
If nobody fouls it's first to the finish line 1/4 mile (402,33meters) further down the track that counts. Electronic timing and lots of photocells measures time with an accuracy of 0,001 seconds and gives you split times, total time and top speed of the race.
The form of competition is the same as a tennis tournament or the football world championship, with quarter-, semi- and final "matches." Qualification runs are used for the "seeding" of the starting field (just like in tennis) and to decide who will get the 8 or 16 places in the competition if there are more cars than that.