A standing start is a type of start in auto racing events, in which cars are stationary when the race begins.
In a standing start, cars are completely still but with their engines running when a green signal is given to start the race. This is often preceded by a set number of lights (for example, five lights are given before all lights extinguish in Formula One races; while the Mario Kart video game series has three red lights before changing it to green). Standing starts are common in many motorsports, including most single-seater (Formula One and GP2 Series notably), Touring Cars (most notably British and World Touring Cars), drag racing, V8 Supercars, kart racing and many types of short-course off-road racing. The standing start often occurs following a parade lap.
American-based series such as IndyCar, NASCAR, and SCCA have traditionally utilized rolling starts. However, in 2013, IndyCar adopted a rule for standing starts on a trial basis for selected events, and will continue to be used in 2014.
A Le Mans-style start was used for many years in most types of motor racing and required the drivers to run across the track when the start flag dropped to their cars which were parked on the other side, climb in, start the car, and drive away to begin the race.
Such starts were very unsafe, with drivers possibly rushing the process of fastening their safety equipment. As a result, they are no longer used in any motorsport except for endurance motorcycle racing, such as the Coke Zero Suzuka 8 Hours and the 24 Heures Moto.
A Le Mans start variation called a "land rush start" is used at short course off-road races at Crandon International Off-Road Raceway where the vehicles start lined up side-by-side on a wide part of the track. The "land rush start" is based on the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans start, and is used in historic races at Le Mans in some situations. However, unlike the true Le Mans start, engines are already running and the drivers are already sat behind the wheel, wearing their safety belts when the starting signal is displayed.
A second variation is used in the Australian GT Championship invitational Highlands 101 at Highlands Motorsports Park in New Zealand. It integrates both the Le Mans start and the Land Rush start. The drivers are behind the wheel already, but the co-drivers are equipped with flags approximately 250m from their cars on the entrance to pit lane. At the signal, the co-drivers run the 250m and hand over a flag that signals to their team the car is cleared to start. The driver then accelerates.
In popular culture
In addition to motorsports, standing starts are also used in popular culture. One notable example is Mario Kart, the longest-running kart racing video game series in Nintendo's Mario franchise since its debut with Super Mario Kart in 1992. When the eight go-karts are in their starting positions (twelve in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 8), Lakitu will come in with its traffic light hanging on a fishing pole, which officially starts the race when the light turns green. Another example is the Speed Racer anime series in which Speed and his friends compete in various races. The F-Zero video game series is another example in which thirty racers use machines to prepare for the race. This also happens in Cars 2 in the World Grand Prix as well as Sugar Rush in Wreck-It Ralph.
Safety and Precautions
The alternative to a standing start is a rolling start. Standing starts are often deemed safer in Formula sports, due to the higher acceleration speeds, which could cause problems if a rolling start were used, based on the speed of the safety car and regulations regarding the start (some forms of motorsport are strict on when cars may accelerate after the safety car enters pit lane—some do not permit acceleration until the cars are near the start line at starter's orders). A standing start can cause problems, however, such as stalled cars being hit by the driver who starts behind them on the grid. One example of that was the 2007 Champ Car Mont-Tremblant, where multiple cars stalled on the start, resulting in a safety car. Motorsports using standing starts usually penalize drivers who "jump the start", by moving before the lights extinguish.
- Glendenning, Mark (July 9, 2013). "IndyCar updates 2013 standing start procedure". Autosport. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
- DiZinno, Tony (October 1, 2013). "Grand Prix of Indianapolis set for May 10, 2014 on revised course". NBC Sports. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
- Blumer, Kevin (February 2009). "Land-Rush Start Sets Tone for High-Speed Weekend". Off-Road magazine. Retrieved 1 March 2010.
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