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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. 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. The standing start often occurs following a parade lap.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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, bicycle endurance races, Kinetic Sculpture Races 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.
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 sitting 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 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.
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 drivers who start behind them on the grid. Ricardo 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. Motorsports using standing starts usually penalize drivers who "jump the start" by moving before the lights are extinguished.
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