Standing start

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A standing start during the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix.

A standing start is a type of start in auto racing events, in which cars are stationary when the race begins (different to the rolling start, where cars are paced). Some categories of land speed record also require a standing start, although the absolute land speed record uses a flying start, where the vehicle has reached its top speed by the starting point of the timer.[1]


In a standing start, cars are completely still but with their engines running when the signal is given to start the race. This is often preceded by a set number of lights. Standing starts are common in many motorsports, including most single-seater (Formula 1 and Formula 2 notably), Touring Cars (most notably British and World Touring Cars), drag racing, the Supercars Championship, kart racing, and many types of short-course off-road racing. In a typical standing start, the formation lap takes place, giving time for team personnel to get clear of the starting grid and back into the pit boxes. Once the formation lap is over, all cars position themselves in the order that they qualified, and the Medical Car positions itself behind the pack. Once the Medical Car is in position, a light system consisting of five lights will be shown, and in the process, a marshall walks or runs across the grid while waving a green flag to signal that all cars are correctly positioned. After a predetermined number of seconds, the lights go out, and the race is underway. However, first-lap crashes are common.[citation needed]

American-based series such as IndyCar, NASCAR, and SCCA have traditionally utilized rolling starts. During the 2013 and 2014 seasons, the IndyCar Series adopted a rule for standing starts on a trial basis for selected events.[2][3] IndyCar dropped the procedure after the 2014 season, due to numerous start aborts and a start-line crash at the 2014 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.[4]

Le Mans[edit]

The Le Mans-style start of the 1949 Coppa Intereuropa, held at Monza
Le Mans-style start at Le Mans Classic in 2018.

A Le Mans-style start was used for many years in various types of motor racing. When the start flag dropped, drivers had to run across the track to their cars which were parked on the other side, climb in, start the car, and drive away to begin the race.[5]

Cars starting from "launch point" at the 2013 EFRA European 1:8 IC Off-Road Championship.

Such starts were very unsafe, with drivers possibly rushing the process of fastening their safety equipment. Britain's RAC prohibited the use of the Le Mans start in English racing in late summer 1962 precisely for this reason.[6] In 1969, Jacky Ickx, who always considered this type of start to be dangerous, decided to walk to his car instead of running. Taking the time to secure everything made him effectively start in the last position but nevertheless, he went on to win the race. Minutes later, John Woolfe died after crashing in the first lap, at the Maison Blanche curve, precisely because he did not fasten his seat belt. Both incidents led to the running start being abolished the following year.[7] As a result, they are no longer used in any motorsport except for endurance motorcycle racing, such as the Suzuka 8 Hours and the 24 Heures Moto, bicycle endurance races, Kinetic Sculpture Races[8] and due to their vulnerability to flameouts, in nitro powered radio-controlled racing, except they are held above ground until start by its mechanics whilst the drivers remain in their stand.[9]

Land rush start (2010).

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.[10] However, unlike the true Le Mans start, engines are already running and the drivers are already sitting behind the wheel, wearing their safety belts, when the starting signal is displayed.[citation needed]

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 250 metres (0.25 km; 820 ft) from their cars on the entrance to pit lane. At the signal, the co-drivers run the 250 metres (0.25 km; 0.16 mi) and hand over a flag that signals to their team the car is cleared to start. The driver then starts the car.[citation needed]

Safety and precautions[edit]

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 drivers who start behind them on the grid. Riccardo Paletti was killed in just such an accident at the 1982 Canadian Grand Prix. Another example was the 2007 Champ Car Mont-Tremblant, where multiple cars stalled on the start, resulting in a safety car[clarification needed]. Motorsports using standing starts usually penalize drivers who "jump the start" by moving before the lights are extinguished.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Official List Of World Speed Records Homologated By The FIA In Category C" (PDF). FIA. Retrieved 9 April 2023.
  2. ^ Glendenning, Mark (July 9, 2013). "IndyCar updates 2013 standing start procedure". Autosport. Retrieved 2013-10-01.
  3. ^ DiZinno, Tony (October 1, 2013). "Grand Prix of Indianapolis set for May 10, 2014 on revised course". NBC Sports. Archived from the original on October 6, 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-01.
  4. ^ Olson, Jeff (December 2, 2014). "IndyCar eliminates standing starts in 2015". USA Today. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  5. ^ "24 HOURS OF LE MANS – ICKX MARCHES TO VICTORY AT THE 1969 EDITION". Automobile Club de l'Ouest. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  6. ^ Björklund, Bengt, ed. (October 1962). "Från skilda fronter" [From different fronts]. Illustrerad Motor Sport (in Swedish). No. 10. Lerum, Sweden. p. 30.
  7. ^ "24 HOURS OF LE MANS – ICKX MARCHES TO VICTORY AT THE 1969 EDITION". Automobile Club de l'Ouest. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  8. ^ "Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race 2016 Race Report". Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  9. ^ "IFMAR 1/8th I.C. Track Racing and Technical Rules" (PDF). International Federation of Model Auto Racing. p. 11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-11-01. Retrieved 2014-12-01.
  10. ^ Blumer, Kevin (February 2009). "Land-Rush Start Sets Tone for High-Speed Weekend". Off-Road magazine. Retrieved 2010-03-01.