Starting a drag strip requires having the space for the race and the tools to create a standard drag strip. A drag strip should have at least one-eighth of a mile of two-lane, paved racing surface and one-half mile of shutdown area. Necessary equipment includes a timing system and a starting device called a Christmas Tree, which is a system of multicolored starting lights.
In addition to the minimum racing surface length, a drag strip should also include retaining walls to confine the racing cars and a parking area, called pits.
Two organizations, the International Hot Rod Association and the National Hot Rod Association, offer official sanctioning for drag strips. To receive sanctioning, a drag strip must adhere to specific requirements. For instance, the NHRA requires a minimum of 100 acres on which the drag strip is built, while the IHRA only sanctions drag strips on 200 to 300 acres of usable land.
Other requirements put out by both organizations include the width and length of the track; starting and finishing line lengths; run-off length and surface; height and type of the retaining walls; and placement of the Christmas Tree. For a drag strip to be sanctioned by one of the hot rod organizations, it must meet these minimum specifications, and the organization must quality check the strip after the process is complete.