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Mike Murillo vs Birdman at Tucson Street Outlaws No Prep

Last weekend, following the huge turnout and response to the Bristol No Prep event episode, Discovery Channel took the show west and rolled into Tucson Dragway in Arizona for another race with a nice fat check for the winner. With another huge group of stars from the show as well as some of the biggest names in no prep racing on the property, that $40,000 check would certainly be earned, with the winner almost guaranteed to have to take out some heavy hitters on the way to the win.

Lately, with more and more no prep style events popping up at tracks across the country, there’s been a lot of discussion about the starting procedure. I noticed this week that there was a lot more chatter about the tree itself and the best to to initiate the races at the track because many racers have apparently gotten away with trying to guess at the light and no being relighted for it, even if they clearly make a move before the green light is on. To understand this, you need a pretty intimate understanding of the Christmas tree and how it works, and I don’t have the time, space or patience to type all of that up, so I’m going to give you a crash course with what amounts to Cliff’s Notes.

When cars race on the street, which is what the no prep format strives to imitate as closely as possible, the race is started by a flashlight start. If there’s a discrepancy about a car jumping too quickly, they go back to look at the tape. If the car even so much as began to wrinkle the rear tire before the light came on, it’s considered a jump and that car is disqualified.

At the track, the cars are staged in the staging beams, which are actually invisible lasers or infrared beams that cross the track to mark the starting line. A driver can react before the green light actually lights up and due to the softness of the tires, the suspension having to transfer weight rearward while the front shocks rebound, leaving the front wheel on the ground for a split second. All of this takes place in a matter of thousandths of a second, but in the rare event that a driver does take a stab at the light at just the right time, he can get a big lead over the guy who is actually waiting to see the light before he reacts in the other lane.

It’s all a game, and this time Mike Murillo won. Lined up with big time hitter in the no prep world James Finney in the Birdman Trans Am. Murillo took a stab at the light and got away with it when the green light comes on just as he leaves the staging beam, while Finney waited until he actually saw the green. This combination of factors gave Murillo a huge lead and it doesn’t even look like Birdman was able to make up any of the space. Murillo took the win, taking out of of the most respected and feared racers in the no prep scene.