AAA: American Automobile Association.
This is the large nationwide car club that offers services such as
travel assistance, roadside service. AAA was once the
organization that sanctioned most of the "legitimate"
racing in the United States; its Contest Board sanctioned the Indy
500 and all Indy car racing in the U.S. until 1955 (when the Contest
Board was disbanded). AAA is no longer involved in racing, but
actions that it took in the '40s and '50s led indirectly to the
formation and growth of NASCAR and USAC, and the ramifications of
those actions are still with us today.
AARA: Antique Auto Racing Association. Sanctions Vintage Open
Wheel exhibition racing.
ABC: Refers to the progression of a stock car drivers training
or career through three specific series, A-ARCA, B-Busch, and C-
ABC Money: Awards given to drivers or team owners who
participate consistently in a series.
Abrasion: The act of or effects from friction or stress between
ABS: Anti-Lock Braking System. Anti-lock brake
systems are designed to sense wheel locking before it occurs and
then release the brakes so that loss of control does not occur..
ACCUS: Automotive Competition Committee of the United States.
This is an umbrella organization, which includes representatives
from CART, NASCAR, IMSA, SCCA, NHRA, USAC, and as of November 1997,
the IRL. It handles cross licensing between sanctioning bodies in
the U.S., and serves as the U.S. representative to FISA, the
international auto racing coordination body.
ACES: Atlantic Coast Enduro Series.
Ackerman: The effective change in toe angle as the wheels are
turned through their range of steering motion. This value is
described in percentages of change. Frequently confused with bump
ACOT: Atlantic Coast Old Timer Racing Club.
ACRL: American City Racing League.
ACT: American-Canadian Tour, a former rival to ASA. ACT was
similar to, but smaller than, ASA; they sanctioned similar classes
of cars, mainly in the Upper Plains and central Canada. Tom Curley,
the sanctioning body's owner, shut it down at the end of the 1995
Adding Spoiler: Changing the direction of a wing or spoiler to
add more downforce.
Adhesion: The amount of stick between two surfaces. Adhesion
usually applies to objects at rest where traction applies to objects
Aero: Abbreviation used when referring to aerodynamics.
Aerodynamic Balance: A state of equilibrium between the front
and rear aerodynamic downforce.
Aerodynamics: The science studying the forces exerted on
racecars surfaces by air in motion and how it affects downforce,
drag, and lift.
Aero Grip: Traction provided by down forces applied to the
car’s surfaces and transferred to the tires.
Aero Loose: When two cars are close together and the lead car
has less air being applied to its rear spoiler. This causes the car
to have less rear downforce, which causes it to be loose in the
Aero Push: When two cars are close together and the trailing car
has less air being applied to its nose. This causes the car to have
less front downforce, less turning ability, which then causes the
car to push up the track.
AFCS: American Funny Car Series. Sanctions Drag Racing in the
United States. Formally known as United Drag Racers Association.
After Market: Generally, the replacement parts and high
performance products market.
AFR: Abbreviation for Air/Fuel Ratio. The mass of air inducted
divided by the mass of fuel inducted.
A-Frame: Either the upper or lower connecting suspension piece
locking the frame to the spindle.
Agricultural Racing or Excursion: When a car leaves the track
and runs through the grass.
AHDRA: All Harley Drag Racing Association.
AHRA: American Hot Rod Association. Sanctions Drag Racing in the
Air Box: Housing for the air cleaner that connects the air
intake to the carburetor.
Air Dam: Used to direct or block airflow. Located on lower
front valance. Used in front to prevent airflow to undercarriage,
intended to prevent turbulence and lift.
Air Filter: Element used to keep particles from entering the
carburetor and engine.
Air Foil: A stabilizer, generally used to create down forces,
increase stability, and tire-to-track adherence at high speeds.
Air Pressure: The amount of air inside the tire pressing
outward on each square inch of tire; expressed in pounds per square
inch (psi) or kilopascals (kPa), the metric designation for air
pressure. This should be expressed in "cold" or
"hot" values and varies with atmospheric conditions.
Air Wrench: In general, any power wrench powered by
compressed air, but often used to refer specifically to the special
power wrenches used to change tires during a pit stop.
AIS: The American Indy car Series, a low-cost series for Indy
car racing. This series keeps costs low by using cast-off CART cars
and by using an engine equivalence formula allowing teams a wide
variety of engine choices. Currently, the series is defunct, but
existing cars are still used in vintage competition.
Alcohol: When used to refer to racing car fuel, nearly always
means methyl alcohol, or methanol. Ethanol is very seldom used for
racecars (it costs too much), and other types are never used.
Alignment: The state in which all wheels on a vehicle are
pointed in the optimum direction relative to the chassis.
All Pro: A touring series for Late Model cars, running mostly
in the South. Created by super-promoter Bob Harmon, who sold the
rights to the series to NASCAR in 1992. All Pro cars are quick and
light, and often have much higher cornering speeds than other
racecars on the same track. At one time, All Pro cars were notorious
for high cornering speeds which resulted in boring, one-groove
racing, but in the last few years NASCAR has made rules changes to
correct this situation. Series was renamed the Kodak Southeast Tour
All-Season Tires: Passenger car tires that are designed for
use on dry and wet pavement, and also provide traction in snow and
Alphanumeric: A term for describing something using both
letters of the alphabet and numbers. Used in describing tire sizes.
general description of a racing vehicle featuring an open cockpit,
tubular frame, center driving position, and altered, cut down body
from a passenger vehicle. Popular altered body styles were
originally produced overseas including the Anglia, Fiat, and Bantam. Can
also refer to a car or portion of a car that has been changed in
Alternate Starter: A practice, which used to be common in
oval-track racing but has now just about died out. An alternate
starter was the fastest (or sometimes the two or three fastest)
among the cars that did not qualify for the race. Many races used to
have rules that substitution of cars or drivers after qualifying was
not permitted; if a driver crashed his car after qualifying, or were
otherwise unable to start the race, that driver and car would have
to withdraw. In this event, an alternate starter would be added to
the field to take the place of the withdrawn team.
Alternator: A belt-driven device mounted on the front of the
engine that recharges the battery while the engine is running.
AMA: American Motorcyclist Association. Sanctions Motorcycle
events throughout the United States.
Amateur: A beginner or novice in the sport. It is the
opposite of Professional.
Ambient Temperature: The temperature of the surrounding air.
AMRA: (1) American Motor Racing Association. Sanctions Open
Wheel Modified racing in the US and Canada. (2) American Motorcycle
AMSA: American Mini-Sprint Association.
Angle of Attack: The angle of a car or wing relative to the
direction of travel.
ANRA: American Nostalgia Racing Association. Sanctions Nostalgia
Anti-Sway or Anti-Roll Bar: A suspension component that links
the left and right side suspension movement together. This is a
torsion spring that limits the amount of lean that a vehicle will
develop in a turn. It can be used in either the front or rear of a
vehicle. It is a primary tuning device for handling characteristics.
Also called "sway bar," roll bar, and anti-roll bar.
AOAS: American Outlaw Action Series.
Apex: The point in a turn where the car is turning most sharply.
By definition, the apex is usually the slowest part of the turn; the
car slows down into the apex, and then accelerates out of it.
(However, this rule is sometimes violated by the use of unusual
cornering techniques.) See also diamonding. Some turns on road
courses may require more than one apex.
A-Post: The post extending from the roofline to the base of
the windshield on either side of the car.
Appearance money: A guaranteed payment from the promoter or
sanctioning body to a driver or team just for showing up, regardless
of how that driver or team does in the race. Programs with names
like "Winners' Circle" or "Appearance Plan"
which pay per-race bonuses to drivers or teams, which have been
regular entrants and have run well in the promoter's events or
Apron: An area on the inside of the track for cars that are
going slowly. At high-banked tracks, the apron has less banking, so
that cars that aren't up to speed won't slide off. The apron is also
used as the approach to the pits, and as the merge-in area for cars
exiting the pits. See also warm-up lane.
A/R: The size of a turbochargers turbine housing. “A” refers
to the area of volute at a specific cross-section; “R” is the
radius of the center of that area.
Aramid: A synthetic fabric used in some tires that is
(pound-for-pound) stronger than steel. Example: Kevlar
ARCA: Auto Racing Club of America. Sanctions a national Stock
car series, and several regional series. Founded in 1953 as the
Midwest Auto Racing Club, it has evolved a number of regional racing
series in the Midwest and West over the years. Its national series,
the ARCA Supercar series, has the distinction of being the only
nationwide Stock car racing series today that runs on both paved and
dirt tracks. ARCA has a longstanding relationship with NASCAR, and
some of its races are run as support events for Winston Cup races.
Many up-and-coming drivers use ARCA to get superspeedway experience,
since they run more superspeedway events than BGN does.
ARCA Invaders: Derogatory name for NASCAR teams or Drivers that
enter in an ARCA Series event.
ARDC: American Racing Drivers Club.
Arm Restraints: Straps that attach to a driver's arms to
limit the range of motion of the upper arm and by doing so keep the
forearms and hands in the car. Sometimes required in Sprint and
Midget racing; these cars are capable of flipping and rolling very
violently, and the arm restraints keep the driver's arms from
slipping out of the roll cage and getting crushed by the car in a
roll. Similar to the purpose served by the window net in a Stock
Armco: A brand name for one brand of corrugated steel barrier
widely used for guardrails on highways. In the '70s, many racetracks
experimented with using Armco instead of concrete for crash walls.
In this application, the steel barriers have been largely
unsatisfactory, too easily damaged and in need of frequent repair.
(Also, they are unsightly when damaged.) For this reason, most
tracks are now phasing Armco out, in favor of concrete walls.
ARPI: Auto Racing Promotions.
ASA: American Speed Association. Sanctions a Stock car series
(the ASA Racing Series) that operates mostly in the Midwest and
Southeast, although they have enough dates in other parts of the
country that their series is usually considered national. Since
1992, this series has been an innovator in reducing the cost of
participation, and many regard it as being the prototype for the
future of Late Model type racing. In addition, ASA sanctions weekly
racing at tracks mainly in the Midwest. Founder Rex Robbins sold ASA
to Georgia businessman Steve Dale in 2003.
ASCA: Arizona Sprint Car Association.
ASCC: Atlantic Sports Car Club.
ASCoC: All Star Circuit of Champions. Sanctions Sprint car
racing in the United States.
ASCS: American Sprint Car Series. Sanctions Sprint Car racing in
the United States.
ASCT: Alaska Sprint Tour.
ASM: All Star Midgets. Sanctions Midget and Dwarf car and
Modified Lite Racing.
Aspect Ratio: Tire size term used to compare the tire
width to the sidewall height. It is a percentage of the sidewall
height compared to the tire width.
ASRTS: All Star Race Truck Series.
ASSC: Alaska Sports Car Club.
Assembly: Typical description of a wheel and tire unit. This
can include a tube or liner as well.
Associate: A sponsor that puts up a small amount of money for
a race team, and consequently gets its name on a less visible area
of the car (such as the rear bumper, or the B-pillar between the
Atmo Engine: Engines, which use natural or atmospheric
airflow as opposed to forced induction. NASCAR, Formula One and NHRA
Pro Stock cars use "atmo" engines while Indy and NHRA Top
Fuel and Funny Car engines use forced induction engines.
ATQMRA: American TQ Midget Racing Association.
Attenuator: A device mounted at the rear of an IRL car to
absorb impacts to the rear end. The IRL new cars originally had a
problem with the rear of the car being very stiff and transmitting
rear-end impacts to the driver, and the attenuator (which is a large
block of neoprene rubber) was an attempt to alleviate the problem.
The rear-end stiffness problem has since been solved, but the
attenuator remains as an additional safety device.
Attrition: The rate at which cars drop out of a race, due to
mechanical failure or wrecks. Attrition is said to be high when few
of the cars that start a race finish it.
Australian Pursuit: An odd form of racing which was popular
in the early days of stock car racing, but has just about
disappeared now. In Australian pursuit, each car that is passed by
any other car during the race is black-flagged and eliminated from
the race. The winner is the last car left on the track (or the first
car to finish out of those remaining after a certain number of
laps). Australian pursuit is usually considered to be a novelty
Autoclave: A complex oven for curing parts made of carbon fiber.
Axle: The pole or shaft on which a wheel turns. Rotating
shafts connecting the rear differential gears to the rear wheels.
Drive unit connecting the transmission to the front hubs on front
Back to top
Back Gate: Literally, the gate on the
back stretch at a short track where car trailers or transporters are
let into the pits or garage area, but the term is used by promoters
to mean the number of cars and teams that actually show up and
attempt to qualify for a race. It's an axiom in the racing industry
that the back gate (number of participating cars) has a direct
effect on the front gate (number of paying spectators), and so good
promoters work hard at keeping their back gate as high as possible.
Backing It In: Term used to describe a non-wing sprint
car's entry into a corner. The car enters the turn in a slide with
the rear of the car leading the front of the car. Also refers to a
crash involving the car going back first into the wall.
Back Pedaling: Most
commonly used in drag racing, the magical art of a driver easing out
of the throttle to regain traction and avoid or stop tire shake.
Difficult to achieve, the driver must anticipate the problem and
pedal before the car is too far out of shape, all in less than 1/2
of a second.
Back Marker: A car that is many laps behind in a race. Also
used as a derisive term to refer to drivers who are consistently
slower then the majority of the field.
Back Out or Back Off: When a driver takes his foot off the
gas pedal and slows down.
Back Stretch: The straightaway on a common oval track found
between turns 2 and 3 on the opposite side from the start/finish
Backup Car: A complete second car used if a team’s first car
BADGER: Badger sanctions Midget racing.
Bag Tank: Deformable fuel tank made from high strength rubber
that is designed to flex and not rupture during an accident.
Balaclava: See head sock. Nomex or fireproof fabric for head
and face protection
Balanced: The state in which a tire and wheel spin with all
their weight distributed equally. Also refers to a cars setup being
Ballast: A controlled amount of weight, functionally
positioned, used to help car meet class weight requirements.
Ball Joint: A component of the front suspension consisting of a
ball mounted in a socket that allows steering control in a stock
Bank/Banking: As applied to racetracks, the angle from the
horizontal at which a corner or straight is tilted. Banking a corner
increases cornering speed by converting some of the sideways
centrifugal force to downward force, in much the same way that an
airplane banks to make a turn. (It also improves drainage.) Bank is
measured in angular degrees from the horizontal. The highest-banked
track in the U.S. currently being used for racing is in Bristol, TN;
it has 36-degree banking in the corners. The highest-banked
superspeedway is Talladega, with 33-degree banking. Daytona has
31-degree banking. (By comparison, Indianapolis has only 9-degree
banking, so it is not true that "superspeedway" is
synonymous with high banks.)
Barge Board: Aerodynamic device placed in front of the sidepods
or a suspension piece to smooth the airflow.
Barnstorming: Staging of an informal series of races by a
touring group, often on temporary or jury-rigged racetracks. Many
barnstormers engaged in hippodroming. A popular form of racing in
the '30s and '40s when race cars were rare and sanctioning bodies
were rarer, barnstorming has just about died out now in the U.S.,
although there are still some touring groups staging events such as
stunt shows and demolition derbies.
BCRA: Bay Cities Racing Association.
BDC: Abbreviation for Bottom Dead Center. The position of the
piston at the bottom of its stroke.
Bead: A round hoop of steel wires, wrapped or reinforced by ply
cords, that is shaped to fit the rim; holds the tire onto the rim.
Bead Lock: A device used on some short-track racing cars to
positively fasten the tire bead to the wheel rim. Particularly with
low-pressure tires often used on dirt tracks, a bead lock keeps the
tire on the wheel, and prevents the tire from slip rotating around
the wheel, which can cause the bead to break.
Bead Wire: The steel wire wrap that is used to construct the
Beauty Bar: Design treatment that typically separates the
sidewall from the shoulder of a tire.
Behind the Wall: Referring to taking a car into the garage area
behind the pit wall to do major repairs.
Bell Housing: A cover shaped like a bell that surrounds the
flywheel and clutch that connects the engine to the transmission.
Belly Pan: Generally, a skin of aluminum or fiberglass used
to cover the under carriage of vehicle, assisting in preventing
turbulence and air drag.
Belt: A rubber-coated layer of cords that is located between
the plies and the tread. Cords may be made from steel, fiberglass,
rayon, nylon, polyester or other fabrics.
Belted Bias Tire: A pneumatic tire with a body similar to that
of bias tires, but which also includes two or more belts under the
Belt Line: The line running around a cars body formed by the
bottom edges of its glass panels.
Belt Package: The entire grouping of belts in a tire.
Bench Racing: Talking about racing; what racers and race fans
do in the winter, or any other time when there's no real racing
Bend: A shallow turn in the track.
BGN: The NASCAR Busch Series, previously known as the Busch
Grand National. A Stock car series sanctioned by NASCAR. The cars
are similar to Winston Cup cars, the main differences being smaller
carburetors, less horsepower, and prohibitions on exotic materials.
Bias Ply Tire: Bias Ply tires are constructed of layers of
rubber-coated plies composed of textile cords placed upon each other
at approximately 30-45 degree angles. These plies are then wrapped
around the bead wires. As a result of a tire being bias in design it
will have a circumference that varies from tire to tire. Because of
its design a bias tire can expand due to increased air pressure or
due to heat generated during use. This allows a team to tune their
cars setup and stagger in order to help the car handle better.
Bias-ply tires have many limitations. Since the plies were placed at
angles to each other, the casing is subjected to strong friction due
to inter-ply shearing, which builds up heat and increases tread wear
due to a higher slip angle. The positioning of the plies also limits
the tire’s ability to provide both superior handling and ride
comfort. One big advantage of bias tire is the lower tire cost. Bias
tires are also much more tolerant of the set up than radial tires.
It is easier to set them up and they are typically easier to drive
at the limit of traction. Bias ply tires like higher slip angles, in
the area of 3°-5° and work best with less than 1 degree of camber.
BIDCA: Badger-Illini Classic Modifieds.
Big Block: As used today, usually refers to a big-block Chevy
engine, although in context it can refer to a big-block engine from
any manufacturer. Background: In the 1960, American manufacturers
commonly sold all cars except for their economy lines with V-8s;
engines of various displacements were created from the same basic
engine block by using different bore, stroke, and cylinder head
measurements. However, when consumers begin to demand more powerful,
larger-displacement engines in the '60s, makers found that there
were limits to the displacement that could be gained by adjusting
bore and stroke, and so they each designed a second, larger block
design for these larger-displacement engines. So, racers begin
referring to the two V-8 block designs from any particular
manufacturer as their "small block" and "big
block". Generally, the small block was used for engines ranging
from 250 to 400 cubic inches (4.0 to 6.3 liters), and the big block
was used for engines of larger than 400 cubic inches. Big blocks are
seldom used for production vehicles today (some larger trucks being
the main exceptions), but some blocks are still manufactured in low
quantities for racing.
Big One, The: Refers to a wreck involving many racecars during a
race usually at one of the bigger speedways such as Daytona or
Billet: Raw material form of forged metal that can be machined.
Binders: Another name for brakes.
Bite: The amount of grip the tires or car has with the track.
Black and Red Flags together: Indicates the end of a practice
or qualifying session. All cars should exit the track and go to the
pits or garage area. Checkered and red, or checkered and black, flag
combinations may also be used.
Black Box: In car high tech electrical systems. These would
control most engine functions. More technically referred to as the
Engine Electronic Controls, the Engine Control Unit or the Engine
Management System. May also include measure devices to record
information during testing.
Black Flag: Report to the pits. Used to call in a car, either
because the team is to be penalized, or because the car presents
some sort of hazard that must be fixed (e.g., leaking oil, loose
bodywork, or going too slow). Generally, the driver has a small
number (2-3) of laps to obey the black flag, and a driver who
continues after that point will be disqualified. At many tracks, an
electric signboard next to the flagman's stand is used to display
the number of the car being black-flagged, to avoid confusion.
Black Flag with White “X”: Signals a racer that is ignoring
a black flag that if he/she does not come in they will cease scoring
Black Slick: A condition describing a dirt tracks surface when
it still has enough moisture to keep the material packed, but has
hardened and is taking rubber.
Blade: Term that some drivers use for a rear spoiler.
Bladder: Device that contains the fuel and keeps it from
spilling and catching fire in the case of a rear impact.
Bleach Box: Section of track before the starting line where
cars spin the tires in water. In early drag racing, actual chlorine
bleach was used in place of water, originating the name.
Bleeder Valve: This is a device mounted in a wheel. It is a
valve that is used to keep air pressure constant during a race. Air
pressure increases with heat and this valve opens and releases air
until the pressure returns to a preset amount.
Blend Line: Line painted on the track near the apron and
extending from the pit road exit into the first turn. When leaving
the pits, a driver must stay below it to safely "blend"
back into traffic.
Blind Rally: A race in which the route is not released until
just before the start.
Blip: A short tap on the throttle.
Blistered: Condition where a tire is run at excessive
temperatures causing the tread to turn into a semi-liquid state.
This is characterized by visible porosity in the tread, and sections
of tread separating from the body.
Blower: Another name for a supercharger.
Block: An area of raised (or surrounded by grooves or sipes)
tread on a tire.
Blocking: Racing term for changing position on the track to
prevent drivers behind from passing.
Blower Belt: The belt that drives the blower on a dragster.
Also see Gilmer Belt.
Blow Over: A drag racing phenomenon where a dragster, most
often a Top Fuel car, flips over itself. Excess traction and weight
transfer lifts the front wheels, then air pressure under the nose
pushes the front end higher until the car eventually topples over
itself. Drag racing legend Don Garlits experienced the first
Blown Engine: (1) An engine that has suffered a catastrophic
bottom-end failure, such as a broken connecting rod. Engines that
have blown usually have suffered irreparable block damage and have
to be junked. Blowing an engine frequently produces a huge cloud of
smoke and leaves oil and pieces of metal all over the track, making
a caution flag necessary. (2) An engine equipped with a
Blue Oval: Refers to a Ford. The name comes from the
shape of its logo.
Blue with Yellow Stripe Flag: A signal to lapped cars to move
out of the way of faster cars. The actual rules associated with this
flag vary considerably. In some series, a driver can be penalized
for ignoring this flag; in others, it is strictly an advisory (and
in fact, the flagman might not bother). Often referred to as the
"move over" flag.
Blueprinting: The meticulous matching to factory
specifications all parts and/or components. Dressing parts to
absolute design callout or manufacturer's specifications.
B-Main: A second-chance race sometimes seen at an event that
uses heat races to determine qualifying and starting positions for
the feature. The B-main includes all cars that failed to finish in a
qualifying position in their respective heat races, and a certain
number of additional qualifying positions are available to the
B-main's top finishers. Also called a "last chance" or
BMARA: Badger Midget Auto Racing Association.
Board Track: An oval track whose surface and foundation are
made from wood. Elaborate board tracks were constructed in the
1910's and '20s, mainly on the West Coast, in part because good
paving materials for earthen works tracks were not available (modern
asphalt having not been invented yet). These tracks, built to
lengths as long as a mile, were built for spectacle and often
featured banking in the turns exceeding 45 degrees.
BOB: Battle of the Bluegrass Tour.
Bobble: A slight wiggle or a brief lose of control that is
recovered by the driver.
Bolt-On Parts: Term used to describe the parts that attach to
the car's chassis.
Bomber: A Stock car class where old cars (often retrieved
from junkyards) are raced, with few or no modifications allowed.
Intended to be the absolute lowest-cost way of going racing at many
tracks, but they also have the side benefit of providing a measure
of comic relief during a tense night of racing. Also referred to as
"Jalopy", "Wrecker", "Thunder Car",
"Detroit Iron" "Coyote" etc.
Boost: The amount of pressure generated by a turbocharger or
supercharger as it forces the air/fuel mixture into a forced
Bore: The diameter of an engine cylinder.
Bottom Dead Center: The position of the piston at the bottom of
Bottom End: The reciprocating and rotating parts of an engine
that transmit the engine's power, including the pistons, crankshaft,
connecting rods, and main bearings. See also top end.
Bow Tie: (1) Chevrolet, from the shape of its logo. (2) A
series of cylinder heads made by Chevrolet for racing, mainly for
use by Late Models and drag racers.
Box: Slang term for a transmission.
B-Post: Post extending from the roofline to the base of
window behind the driver's head.
Brain Bucket: Slang term for a helmet.
Brake Duct: A tube that takes air from the front or side of a
car and directs it to the brakes in order to cool them.
Brain Fade: A lack of focus that can lead to making a mistake
during a race.
Brake Balance: The difference in braking force between one
end or side of the car, and the other. Racing brake systems are
usually designed so that the front-rear brake balance can be
adjusted, with more force going to one end or the other as desired
to improve handling characteristics (side-to-side brake balance
adjustment is less common, and not allowed in many series).
Sometimes, this is done with a knob in the cockpit that the driver
can use to change the balance while driving.
Brake Fade: Condition that occurs when the brakes get so hot
they are ineffective and braking power is reduced.
Brake Tuning: Using both braking and steering ability of the
car between the turn in point and the apex of a turn.
Breakout: (Run Under) In Drag racing, when your elapsed time is
quicker than your dial-in, this causes you to be disqualified.
Break Loose: Describes when the tires are pushed beyond their
threshold and they lose traction.
Brickyard: Nickname given to the legendary Indianapolis Motor
Speedway, which although paved now, used to have a brick surface.
Buildup: Term use to describe an increase in tire pressure due
to the tire heating up (by running and brake heating) and internal
humidity turning into steam. To help limit pressure buildup teams
use nitrogen dried air, or other gas to lower internal humidity.
Bull Ring: A general term for a short track usually a
half-mile or less where local weekly races are held.
Bump Drafting: A drafting technique where a trailing car that
is rapidly gaining on a preceding car will actually hit the
preceding car in the rear (gently), in order to transfer some
momentum to the preceding car and speed it up, which because of the
dynamics of drafting, results in both cars gaining speed. A
dangerous technique commonly used on superspeedways.
Bump Rubber or Bump Stop: A piece of rubber used to stop the
travel of the suspension.
Bump Steer: Un-commanded steering motion in a front wheel,
caused by the wheel's changing its toe angle as it moves up and
down. Usually considered undesirable. Great effort is made to
minimize the condition by changing the geometry between the steering
rack and the suspension control arms.
Burn Off: Burning fuel during the course of a race. As fuel
is burned, the car becomes lighter and its handling characteristics
change, challenging the driver and crew to make adjustments to
Burned Piston: A type of engine failure, which is the result
of pre-ignition or excessive heat in a cylinder, usually because the
air-fuel mixture has become too lean for some reason.
(Alcohol-fueled engines are especially vulnerable to this.) A burned
piston has its top surface transformed into something resembling the
surface of the moon, and may even have a hole burned all the way
Burnout: Spinning of rear wheels at high RPM to heat and
clean drive tire rubber prior to a run, resulting in increased
Busch: The NASCAR Busch Series, previously known as the Busch
Grand National. A Stock car series sanctioned by NASCAR. The cars
are similar to Winston Cup cars, the main differences being smaller
carburetors, less horsepower, and prohibitions on exotic materials.
Busch Whackers: Derogatory name for Nextel Cup teams or Drivers
that enter in a Busch Series event.
Bye Run: In Drag racing, a lone run given to a randomly
chosen car, because of an unequal number of cars in the round.
Back to top
Calendering: A machine process that
combines body-ply rubber and cord fabric together into a specified
Calipers: A component of the braking system that houses the
piston, which hydraulically pushes the brake pad against the rotor.
Camber: One of the three major front suspension geometry
adjustments. The camber angle is the angle between the plane of the
wheel (think of it as the plane of the hub face, or the brake
rotor), and the vertical. Negative camber is when the top of the
wheel is leaning toward the car. Positive camber is when the top of
the tire is leaning away from the car. This adjustment setting is
described in degrees.
Can-Am: Sanctions TQ Midget racing on asphalt oval tracks.
Cantilever: This is a tire designed to increase the tread width
when rules restrict the rim width. The most noticeable
characteristic is the pronounced sidewall extension. These tires
typically present a challenge to the service technicians when
mounting and dismounting.
Cap: A metal or plastic screw on cap for the valve stem.
Carbon Black: Ingredient used in the manufacturing of tires.
Acts as a filler but also adds strength and color to a compound.
Carbon Monoxide: Colorless, odorless poison gas created by
the combustion of carbon-based fuels.
Carburetor: A device mounted on top of the intake manifold
that controls the air-fuel mixture going to the engine.
Carcass: The tire body beneath the tread and sidewalls; also
CARS: (1) Championship Auto Racing Series. (2) Classic Auto
CART: Championship Auto Racing Teams, one of the two
organizations that sanctions Indy car racing.
CASA: California Asphalt Sprint Association.
CASC: Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs.
CASCAR: Canadian Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.
Casing: The tire body beneath the tread and sidewalls.
Caster: It's the angle between the front wheel kingpin and
the vertical when viewed from the side. (Think of it as the
"hinge" that the wheel swings on when the steering wheel
is turned). All modern suspension designs have the top of the
kingpin leaning toward the rear of the car. Higher angles can
provide improved cornering traction, but a side effect is that such
angles require extreme effort on the part of the driver to turn the
steering wheel requiring power steering. The measurement is
described in degrees, as in degrees of rotation. In a modern
suspension design the "kingpin" is better described as the
intersection of the upper and lower ball joints.
Catch Can: A small can that is used to catch fuel that comes
out of the fuel cell vent when it overflows (while being filled).
Also: Most fuel cells today have a check valve in the vent line that
prevents fuel from backing out of the vent line. This valve also
prevents air from escaping the cell, which would make it impossible
to fill the cell, so the catch can has a protruding snout that is
shoved into the vent line, and forces the check valve open so the
car can be fueled. This applies mainly to Stockcars; Indy cars use a
vent hose instead.
Catch Fence: The fence along the wall that protects
spectators from errant cars, parts, etc.
Caution: A period when a race is stopped due to an accident or
other dangerous situation (such as rain, debris, or spilled oil) on
the track. Indicated by the display of a yellow flag and light. The
cars may continue moving around the track behind a pace car and no
passing is permitted. In most cases laps run under caution are
counted and cars are permitted access to the pits for service.
Caution Lights: At most tracks, a series of signal lights around
the perimeter of the track that duplicates the functions of some of
the flags. Commonly, old traffic lights containing red, yellow, and
green bulbs. Some use strobe or flashing yellow lights in addition
to a solid yellow.
C.C: Cubic Centimeter, a metric unit of volume measurement,
equal to approximately 0.061 cubic inch.
CDCRA: California Dwarf Car Racing Association.
Center of Gravity: A measurement used in chassis setup to
determine the overall balance of a race vehicle and adjust handling
characteristics. The center of gravity is an imaginary point located
in the car where if raised by that point, the car would balance
perfectly. Center of gravity changes work inversely in dirt and
asphalt applications. Raising the C.G. on an asphalt car will reduce
traction while the same adjustment increases traction on a dirt
vehicle. The opposite is true of lowering the C.G.
Center of Pressure: The point on an Indy car under-wing,
which receives the greatest amount of airflow pressure. This
measurement is critical to setting front to rear balance, especially
C.F.M: Cubic Feet per Minute. A measure of airflow.
Chalk Mark: A measurement of the circumference written on the
tire. This is usually not a cold circumference but a measurement
taken after the tire has been removed from the mold and inflated.
This measurement is used a reference point for comparing tire sizes.
Championship Cars or Champ Cars: (1) Refers to front-engine
Indy cars that raced at Indianapolis and other Indy car venues until
about 1965. See also Silver Crown. (2) The term that CART began
using for its cars in 1998 (after it was barred from using "Indycar"
as the result of a lawsuit by the IRL).
Chassis: The frame of a racecar that provides a mounting
point for the motor, suspension, steering, roll cage, and drive
Checked Out: Expression when the leader drives away from the
rest of the field and will seem impossible to catch.
Check Up: To slow down abruptly, either because of a problem
with the car, or because of an incident occurring ahead. When a
driver checks up, he/she is supposed to hold up their right hand and
wave it, as a signal to following cars, but there isn't always time.
Sudden checking up is a frequent cause of "secondary
accidents" that occur behind an accident or spin.
Checkered Flag (black and white): The race is over. This flag
is always shown first to the winner; each car gets to complete the
lap that it is on, and then the race ends.
Chicane: An "S" like track configuration generally
designed on a fast portion of a track to slow cars. Also referred to
as "esses" or a "switchback."
Chili Bowl: A nationally recognized indoor Midgets race in
Christmas Tree: An electronic starting device used in drag
racing that incorporates calibrated lights displaying a visual
countdown for each driver, activated by a designated official. See
full and pro tree.
Chrome Horn: Bumping into the rear of the car ahead of you,
to cause him to get a bit loose (so he'll slow and you can pass
him), or just to express dissatisfaction with his driving. The term
comes from the early days of Stock car racing, when the racecars
were showroom cars of the '40s and '50s with the huge, chromed
bumpers that were in style then. The chrome horn is regarded as a
dubious technique at best and downright dirty at worst.
Chromoly: Also Chrome Moly. Short for Chromium Molybdenum
steel. Very strong and light tubing highly adaptable for racecars.
Chunking: Condition in which rubber comes off a tire in
chunks due to the tire being chemically treated or a bad or misused
Chute: (1) Short for parachute or drag chute. Used to assist
high-speed braking. (2) A straight away on a track.
C.I.D.: Cubic Inch Displacement. A measure of volume, used to
measure cylinder volume.
CIFCA: California Independent Funny Car Association.
Circuit: Any racetrack. Also refers to the entire slate of races
on a season schedule.
Circulating: Driving around a track with a damaged and/or
slow car to accumulate laps and, more importantly, points and prize
Circular: A track with no straights. There have been such
tracks in the past; the old Reading, Pennsylvania track was a
well-known example in its day. There are no significant circular
tracks existing today. (However, Flemington, New Jersey, is a
rectangular track with straights so short that it is driven as a
Circumference: The measured distance around the tread portion
of a tire.
Claim Rule: A rule that allows parts from one competitors'
car to be purchased by other competitors at a set price. Usually
applied to engines, claim rules supposedly keep the cost of racing
down by making it unprofitable to spend a lot of money on illegal or
Clean Air: Air without turbulence created in the wake of
Clevor: Name for a Ford production-based small-block V-8,
which is the basis for the current Ford NASCAR Winston Cup engine.
The engine is an amalgam of the best features from the
"Cleveland" and "Windsor" engines of the '70s,
and the "Clevor" name is a combination of the two names.
Ford is now phasing the engine out of production, and it's unclear
how much longer it will continue to race in NASCAR.
Clip: On a tube-frame Stock car, the front and rear sections are
designed so that if they are damaged in an accident, they can easily
be cut off (with a cutting torch) from the main part of the chassis,
and a new section welded on. These replaceable sections are referred
to as the "front clip" and "rear clip".
Clipping: (1) Minor contact between racecars. (2) Refers to
hitting precisely, or "clipping," the apex of a turn.
CLMA: Colorado Late Model Association.
Closed Wheel: A racecar where the suspension, wheels and
tires are mostly covered by the body.
Clutch: The coupling device that when engaged or disengaged
connects or disconnects the engine to the transmission.
Clutch Can: Bell housing, the bell-shaped housing used to
encase clutch and flywheel.
Clutch Lockup: The progression of the clutch-disc engagement
controlled by an air-timer management system.
CMT: Carolina Modified Tour.
CNYMS: Central New York Mini-Sprints.
Cock Pit: Area in a car where driver sits.
Cold Inflation Pressure: The amount of air pressure in a
tire, measured in pounds per square inch (psi) before a tire has
built up heat from driving.
Cold Pits: When there is no racing activity on the track and
the pits are open to people other than team members and racing
Collected: Getting hit by an out-of-control car while trying
to pass by or through an accident in progress.
Combinations: A teams groups of engines, gearings,
suspensions, aerodynamic parts, and wheel and tire settings that
they forecast will work under varying conditions and tracks. These
combinations (also known as set-ups) are recorded and used as
baseline when teams arrive at a track.
Combustion: The burning of the fuel-air mixture in an engine
Combustion Chamber: The part of the cylinder within an
engine block where the fuel/air mixture is compressed by the piston
and ignited by a spark from the spark plug.
Come In/Coming In: When a tire gets up to temperature and begins
gripping. May also be called “fire”. Some rubber compounds will
“come in” quicker than others.
Competition Area: The staging lanes and racetrack surface.
Competition Yellow: A scheduled caution period during a race.
It has the effect of drawing all the cars together, which can
prevent the race from becoming a "runaway"; it also
de-emphasizes the importance of pit stops by decreasing the number
of pit stops that must be made under the green flag. Commonly used
by ASA to reduce costs by making fast pit stops less important. See
Compound: This refers to the mixture or durability of the
rubber on the tread of the tire. Compounds are usually described as
"hard" or "soft". The more abrasive the track is
the harder the compound you would want to use.
Compression Ratio: The volume of the combustion chamber and
cylinder when the piston is at the bottom of its stroke, divided by
the volume of the combustion chamber and cylinder when the piston is
at the top of its stroke. Higher compression ratios tend to increase
Compressor: A machine that pressurizes and regulates airflow
for delivery into tools or tires.
Connecting Rod: A metal rod used to connect the piston to the
Consolation Race: Sometimes called the "consy,"
this is a race for teams who fail to qualify for a feature race or
main event. (Some people incorrectly use this term to refer to a
B-main.) The consolation typically will come with a small amount of
prize money for the top few finishers, or the promoter might offer
to cover the day's expenses of the consy winner. The purpose of the
consolation race is to encourage the teams that failed to qualify to
come back and try again at the promoter's next event. See also back
Constant Radius Corner: A turn that has the same radius
throughout the turn.
Contact Patch: The area of a tire that is in contact with the
Contingency Awards: Money or prizes that are awarded to race
participants by parties other than the race promoter. The
contingency award may be based on performance, on a team's use of a
sponsor's product, or any other criteria that the party sponsoring
the award feels like imposing. Some contingency awards require that
the racecar carry a sponsor's decal.
Cool Down Lap: A lap run after taking the checkered flag in
order to slow down before leaving the track.
Co-opertition: Slang term that combines the two words
Cooperation and Competition. Describes the act of teams cooperating
during competition. The best example is drafting at superspeedways
to benefit both cars.
Cord: The strands of material forming the plies or layers of
the tire. Cords may be made from fiberglass, rayon, nylon,
polyester, steel or other materials.
Core: The mechanism in a tire valve stem that allows one-way
passage of air. Also called "valve core".
Cornering Force: The sideways force or lateral gravitational
(G’s) forces exerted on a car and driver while going through turns
Corner Worker: Racetrack or series safety staff that are
located in the corners to notify drivers of any dangerous situations
in the area.
Cosmetic Damage: A spot or location of damage that is not a
structural problem to the operation of the tire.
Cowl: A removable metal scoop at the base of the windshield
and rear of the hood that directs air into the air box.
Cowl Induction: Housing for the air cleaner that connects the
air intake at the base of the windshield to the carburetor.
C-Post: The post extending from the roofline of a racecar to
the base of the rear window to the top of the deck lid.
Crankcase: The area of the engine block that houses the
Crankshaft: The rotating shaft within the engine that
delivers the power from the pistons to the flywheel, and from there
to the transmission.
Crash: An incident where one or more cars are involved in a
Crash Clause: A special provision that is included in a racecar
rental contract regarding the amount that the renter will pay the
owner if the racecar is wrecked.
Crate Motor: In some series such as ASA, a similar motor is
supplied to all competitors. This is mainly done to reduce costs and
even the competition, similar to a specified tire rule.
Crew Chief: The individual responsible for all mechanical
aspects of the racecar and strategic decisions during pit stops and
Cross Weight: The percentage of weight on the right front vs.
the left rear wheel.
Crossed Flags: (two flags furled and crossed in an X shape):
Indicates that half of the distance of the race has been completed.
Usually, in oval-track racing, the rules stipulate that once
one-half of the scheduled distance has been completed, if some
condition (such as weather) makes it impossible to continue, the
race will be called and the current running order becomes the final
result. The crossed flags are a signal that this point in the race
has been reached. Also, there is sometimes a bonus award for being
the leader of the race at the crossed flags.
Cross Thread: Stripping of the wheel stud threads when
crewmembers hurriedly refasten lug nuts.
Crush Panel: On a tube-frame Stock car, a sheet metal panel
that fills in the gaps between the firewall and the side body
panels. If the crush panel gets damaged, engine heat (and frequently
exhaust gas) comes into the cockpit, which can make the driver
CTS: Craftsman Truck Series.
Cure: The process of putting a completely assembled green
tire in a press and forming into a finished tire.
Cushion: Area of the corner above the farthest outside groove
on a dirt track where loose dirt builds up.
Cut: A sharp turn or a racecars ability to negotiate a turn. The
car is cutting well means the car is able to turn well.
CVM: Canadian Vintage Modifieds.
CVSCRA: Carolina Vintage Stock Car Racing Association.
Cylinder: A chamber in the engine in which combustion occurs
and drives the piston.
Cylinder Head: The top or lid over the cylinder(s).
Cylinder Liner: A circular housing that the piston moves in when
the cylinder is not an integral part of the engine block. Also
referred to as a “sleeve”.
Back to top
DAARA: Daytona Antique Auto Racing
Damper: Device used to restrict the travel of a part usually a
Darlington Stripe: A streak of scraped-off paint that appears on
the right side of a car, from having made light contact with the
outside wall. The term originated at Darlington back in the '60s,
when the track had Armco for its retaining walls.
Dash: An event that is usually six to eight laps in length.
Starting lineup of this event is usually determined by combination
of Qualifying and Heat Race results. The finishing order of this
event usually determines starting order of the first three or four
rows of the Feature event.
Date TIN: The alphanumeric mark located above the tire bead
on the reverse sidewall. The actual "Date" portion of the
TIN is only visible on DOT type tires.
Dead Pedal: A footrest found to the left of the operating pedals
to give the driver a place to put his left foot during hard
De-Beading: This is when a tire dismounts from a rim. This is
normally caused from low air pressure.
Decals: A tradition as old as Stock car racing itself. Decals
are a low-budget form of advertising that sometimes provides rewards
that are small, yet important to struggling teams. Contingency
awards are sometimes tied to the display of decals.
Deck Lid: The trunk lid. On most Stock cars, the trunk is
vestigial, but the lid remains for access to the fuel cell, oil
tank, battery, and other things that might be stashed away in that
Decreasing Radius Corner: A turn that has a smaller radius
during the last half of the corner.
Deep Staging: In drag racing, when the racer inches his car
forward, not completely passed the starting line (staging line) so
much as to turn off the pre-stage light. This technique is often
used to break the concentration of your opponent at the line. Deep
staging increases E.T. but lowers your reaction time.
Defect: A general description of a manufacturing flaw. This
could be cosmetic or structural in nature.
Delamination: Visible circumferential lines that occur when
spiral tread wraps open up. This condition is usually cosmetic but
in extreme conditions can be a performance problem.
Depth Holes: Cavities located in the tread surface that
enables wear measurements.
Detroit Locker: A brand name of a ratcheting (limited slip)
rear end commonly used in Winston Cup.
Dialed In: When a cars setup is in an ideal state.
Dialing In: The driver and crew making setup adjustments to
for better handling.
Dialing Under: Allows competitors in Stock and Super Stock
the option of selecting a time faster than the National Index.
Applied in handicap elimination racing where breakout is in effect.
Dial-ins: Driver's predictions of E.T.'s their cars will run
in their first eliminations.
Diameter: The height of the tire (usually unloaded).
Diamonding: Taking corners by driving into the corner fairly
straight, making a sharp turn in the middle of the corner, and then
driving out fairly straight (such that, as the car goes through the
corner, it moves from the inside to the outside and then back to the
inside). On an oval, this causes the car to describe a
diamond-shaped trajectory around the track, hence the term. This is,
in a way, the opposite of the standard technique for taking a
corner, and often results in slower lap times, but it may produce
faster times from a car that is severely pushing, or on a very slick
Diaper: A blanket made from ballistic and absorbent material,
often Kevlar, which surrounds the oil pan and serves as a
containment device during engine explosions. Also used to prevent
fluid leaks from damaging racing surface during indoor racing
Dicing: Close, exciting driving between 2 or more racers.
Positions are exchanged frequently.
Direct Drive: When a drive train is directly connected
between the engine/crankshaft and the axle without a clutch.
Directional: Usually refers to a tire that is only to be run one
way and not reversed. Indicated by directional arrows. This is due
to the construction of the tire. Running a directional tire the
wrong way can result in its destruction.
Dirt Track: A track, which is not paved, but rather has a
dirt (usually red clay, or some mixture including clay) surface.
Dirt tracks host mainly Late Model, Midget, and Modified classes in
weekly racing and some touring series. Dirt tracks are nearly always
short tracks; most range from 1/8 to 1/2 mile.
Dirty Air: An aerodynamic term for turbulent air currents
caused by fast-moving cars. Can cause a trailing car to lose
Dismount: Removing a tire from a wheel.
Displacement: In an engine, the total volume of air/fuel
mixture an engine is theoretically capable of drawing into all
cylinders during one operating cycle. Described in cubic inches or
Disqualification: The most severe during-race punishment that
a sanctioning body can impose. Disqualification is imposed only for
the most severe infractions, such as ignoring a black flag or
deliberately wrecking another car. It may also be imposed after the
fact for severe technical violations, which may not be discovered
until after the race, such as having an engine that is too large or
carrying illegal equipment. Note that disqualification does not
necessarily mean that the disqualified car finishes last; usually
for a during-race infraction the scoring simply stops counting that
car's laps at the time that the infraction is committed. A
disqualification will nearly always bring about some other penalty,
such as a monetary fine, a point's fine, probation, or suspension.
Dive: The amount the front end of the car lowers during
deceleration or braking. Usually before entering a turn.
DNF: Acronym for "did not finish". The opposite of
running at finish. Most racing box scores will list, for each car,
either "running" or a very brief reason why the car DNF'ed,
such as "engine" or "accident".
DNQ: Acronym for "did not qualify".
DNS: Acronym for "did not start". See also
DOHC: Dual Overhead Cam. Engine with two camshafts
over a bank of cylinders; generally one cam operates the intake
valves, and the other the exhaust valves.
Door Bars: Term
used to describe the side protection bars built into most
full-bodied racecar roll cages. Often, 3 or 4 horizontal bars are
joined to the front and rear upright support bars to form the door
Door Car: As
the name implies, any drag racing vehicle with functioning doors.
Although they resemble passenger vehicles, Funny Cars are not door
cars, as their doors do not function.
Dope: (1) Slang term for the homebrew fuel mixtures that were
used in Indy car racing in the '20s and '30s. In the days when
available gasoline was very low in octane, teams often mixed their
own gas so that they could run higher compression ratios.
(2) Refers to the practice of treating tires with chemicals to alter
their thermal and traction capabilities. Practice is illegal and
DOT: Department of Transportation. Governing body that
establishes regulations including tire labeling and performance
standards of tires that are run inside the United States on public
roads and highways.
DOT Markings: A code molded into the sidewall of a tire
signifying that the tire complies with U.S. Department of
Transportation motor vehicle safety standards. The DOT code includes
an alphanumeric designator, which can also identify the tire's
manufacturer, production plant, and date of production and brand.
DOT Tires: Used to refer to street-legal tires that can be
purchased by the public, as opposed to racing tires. Many lower-cost
forms of racing require use of Department of Transportation (DOT)
Double: Recent term for competing in the Indianapolis 500,
and the Coca-Cola World 600 at Charlotte, in the same day
("running the double").
Doughnut/Donut: (1) Circular patterns that are formed on the
side of a car when it comes into contact with the front or rear
fenders of another car, and that car's tires (perhaps slightly
protruding from the fenders) rub off the paint, forming a circular
rub pattern. (2) Spinning a vehicle around and around by
over-accelerating and turning at the same time, leaving rubber on
the track in a circular or donut shape. (3) An extra piece of rubber
inserted into a spring.
D-oval: Type of oval track that has a gradually, continuously
curving front "straight". Michigan, Fontana, and Richmond
Downforce: Refers specifically to downward forces generated
by aerodynamics, either due to the car's body shape or due to
aerodynamic aids such as spoilers and wings (as opposed to downward
force resulting from the car's weight or from G-forces). Downforce
resulting from aerodynamics greatly increases the traction ability
of the tires, but it also increases wind resistance, which is the
trade-off for the increased traction.
Downshift: Moving the transmission to a lower gear.
Drafting: An aerodynamic phenomenon that occurs at high-speed
tracks. A car following another car runs in a partial vacuum left
behind the lead car, which means that it doesn't have to use as much
power moving air aside. The lead car also benefits, because the
following car is occupying the space where the air would otherwise
be trying to flow back in and creating drag. Two cars in a draft can
go faster than either of the cars could go by themselves.
Drag: The resistance a car experiences when passing through
air at high speeds.
Drag Coefficient: A measured amount of how much drag an
object creates while traveling through the air.
Drag Slot: When the starting grid for a race contains an odd
number of cars (and assuming that the cars are started two-abreast,
which is usually the case in Stock car racing), the last car in the
field starts on a row by itself. That car is said to be in the drag
Drift: A controlled slide through a turn or in an open area.
Drifting has become a competitive sport.
Drive Line: All parts included in the drive train not including
the engine and the transmission.
Drive Plate: A splined metal plate that transmits the
rotation of the axle shaft to the hub assembly on solid axle
suspensions. Variations of this design allows for 2-3 degrees of
camber in the system.
Driver's Meeting: A meeting which usually takes place 10-30
minutes prior to a major race, conducted by race officials, and
which all drivers in the race are required to attend. Often, the
meeting is merely a formality, but sometimes it is used to discuss
unusual conditions, pass on last-minute rules changes, or work out
issues between drivers.
Drive Shaft: The shaft mounted between the transmission and the
rear end differential.
Drive Shaft Strap: A U-shaped strap that is fastened to the
bottom of the car, and passes beneath the drive shaft. Its purpose
is to keep the drive shaft in the car if the shaft or one of its
U-joints breaks. Use of drive shaft straps is mandatory by most oval
track racing divisions. Sometimes referred to as a "Drive shaft
Drive Train: All parts that supply power to the wheels including
the engine, transmission, drive shaft, differential, and hubs.
Driving Away: When a driver is pulling away from the field
with little challenge from anyone else in the race.
Droop Limiter: A device that controls downward suspension
Dropping a Cylinder: A generic term for any condition that
causes an engine cylinder to stop producing power. In racing
engines, this usually results from either an ignition failure, or
from a valve failing to open or close properly. (The latter often
results in the valve contacting the top of the piston, leading to
Drop the Hammer: When a driver puts the gas pedal to the
Dry Hops: Process of spinning your tires on dry pavement
creating off and on contact with the ground.
Dry Line: A clear or dry line on the track that develops
after rain because of more frequent use.
Dry Sump: The type of oiling system used on most racing
engines. In a dry sump system, oil that isn't being used at the
moment is stored in a tank, away from the engine, eliminating the
need for the "deep end" on the oil pan.
Dry-Break Connector: A connector used for fueling apparatus
(gas cans or hoses) that can be connected or disconnected under
pressure without spilling any fuel.
Dry-Slick: A dry dirt track with little or no moisture or
grip. Often associated with a dusty track.
Dry Weight: A car's weight without any liquids such as gas
Dump Shifting: Skipping gears while downshifting.
Durometer: A device used to measure the hardness of the
rubber on the surface of a tire.
Dwarf Car: A racing car, with a vintage-replica body (usually
of a car from the '30s or '40s) built on a tube-frame chassis, and
usually with some type of 4-cylinder engine. Many dwarf-car
divisions are spec series, with all competitors being required to
purchase the cars from a specific builder, and with very few or no
mods allowed. See also Legends.
Dynamic: Dimensions or descriptions that apply when an object
(tire, suspension or car) is in use or in motion. (See
Dynamic Weight Transfer: The transferring of weight from side
to side during cornering, from rear to front during deceleration and
from front to rear during acceleration.
Dyno: Short for dynamometer. A device used to measure
the power output of an engine, in or out of a car, by applying its
power to a load. The load is usually some form of brake or friction
device (such as a water turbine). The term is often used loosely for
any kind of test stand where engines are run out-of-car, whether
under load or not. Recently, some people have also began using the
term to refer to any piece of testing gear that tests the dynamic
performance of a racing component, such as the "shock dyno".
Back to top
Early Apex: When a driver turns into a
corner too soon.
Economy Run: When a driver drives conservatively to save the
engine, fuel and tires.
EEC: Electronic Engine Control.
EGT: The Exhaust Gas Temperature.
EIRI: Except in rare incidents.
EKRL: Endurance Kart Racing League.
Elapsed Time (ET): The total time it takes to get from the
starting line to the finish line. Each car must have its number on
the side of the car, in the door area, and on the roof. Small
numbers can appear on the nose, in the place where the headlights
would be on a production car.
Electric Eye: A generic term for any electronic timing
Electrical: Sometimes used as an excuse for a car's
retirement from a race when revealing the real reason would be
embarrassing; for instance, if the engine fails in a race being
sponsored by the engine's manufacturer. This type of prevarication
isn't very common, fortunately, but it does happen. The reason why
"electrical" is often used in these situations comes from
an apocryphal story: a team, which had suffered a pyrotechnic engine
failure, gave their reason out as "electrical." When an
incredulous series official queried, he was told, "a rod that
went through the block knocked the alternator out, so it was an
Eliminations: When cars are raced two at a time, resulting in
one winner and one loser "eliminated." Winner continues to
race in a tournament-style competition.
End Plate: The vertical end portion of a wing.
Enduro: A short-track event, which runs at a
longer-than-usual distance and with an abnormally large field. In an
enduro, the lead cars start to enter lapped traffic after only a few
laps. This makes the event more of a challenge to the driver to be
smooth and stay out of trouble, rather than a speed and horsepower
Engine Computer: A microprocessor that controls the functions
of the engine, such as fuel delivery and engine timing. Almost
universal in passenger car engines since about 1985, and Indy car
engines have been using them since the late '70s. However,
computer-controlled engines are still not permitted in NASCAR.
Engine Leasing: Process where a race team leases an engine
from an engine builder for a specific length of time for a fee. All
maintenance, rebuilds, and tuning are handled by the leasing
company. Leases usually occur when teams do not have their own
engine shop or when their product is inferior to other producers.
Entry: The line or point a vehicle enters into a turn.
Entry Level: A class of racing with a wide range of rules and
types of cars that include Street, Pure, Hobby, Super, Factory,
Pony, Mini, and Limited Stocks as well as Bombers, Road Hoggs,
Thunder Cars, Cruisers, Roadrunners, some Sportsmen, Runabouts,
Chargers, Figure 8's and many others.
EOQM: Eastern Outlaw Quarter Midgets.
ERA: Englewood Supermodified Association.
ESDCA: Empire State Dwarf Car Association.
ESS: Empire Super Sprints
Esses: An "S" like track configuration generally
designed on a fast portion of a track to slow cars.
E.T.: (Elapsed Time). The total time it takes to get from the
starting line to the finish line. Each car must have its number on
the side of the car, in the door area, and on the roof. Small
numbers can appear on the nose, in the place where the headlights
would be on a production car.
Equalize: To gradually lose pressure in an inner-liner
equipped tire, until the main carcass pressure equals the inner
liner pressure. When this happens, the inner liner partially unfolds
inside the tire and flops around, which can create a severe
Equal Loading: When two tires on the same axle have the same
amount of weight applied or loaded.
Back to top
F1: Abbreviation for Formula One.
F.I.A: International Federation of Automobile Clubs. Sole
international body governing motor sports outside the United States.
Fabricator: Team member responsible for the body of the
Factory Team: A team owned, operated, or sponsored directly
by an automobile manufacturer.
Fall Off: Gradual or drastic deterioration of a tires
performance during use.
FASCAR: Florida Association of Stock Car Auto Racing.
Feature: The main event at a weekly-racing session or
regional (or, less commonly, a national) event. Typically, a short
track running weekly racing will have several classes, and each
class has a feature (possibly more than one) where most of the money
and points for that class are awarded. Starting positions for the
feature are often determined by running heat races.
Fence: Term to describe the barrier on the inside or outside of
the tracks racing surface. I may be a wall or steel rail but still
be referred to as a fence.
Ferrous: Containing iron, as in metals.
Fidgets: Slang for the Ford Focus Midgets.
Field: The group of cars that starts a race or the total
number of cars in attendance. May also refer to the group of drivers
and teams that competes regularly in a particular racing series.
Field Filler: Cars that enter an event to fill out the field of
entrants. This is done in order for the series or promoter to
present the advertised car count and the teams to get a guaranteed
start and finishing position pay. These cars may start the race,
complete a few laps, and then park.
Figure-8 Racing: Races run on a figure-8 shaped track. This
is done by paving two lanes in an X shape through the infield of a
conventional oval. In a Figure-8 race, there is an
intersection in the middle of the track, which the cars must
navigate to avoid wrecks with crossing traffic.
Fill the Mirrors: When a driver is pressuring another driver
so feverishly that the rear-view mirror is filled their pursuer.
Finish Line: Line, which determines winner and computes
Fire: When a tire gets up to temperature and begins gripping.
May also be called “coming in”. Some rubber compounds will
“fire” quicker than others.
Fire Bottle: A brand name for a model of fire extinguisher
designed to be used in a racecar; sometimes used to refer to a fire
extinguisher in general.
Fire Suit: The suit worn by the driver (or others potentially
exposed to fire, such as a gas man), consisting of several layers of
a fire and heat-resistant fabric such as Nomex or Kevlar. The
development of fire suits in the late '60s cut down greatly on burn
injuries suffered by drivers.
Fire Wall: A solid metal plate that separates the engine
compartment from the driver's compartment of a racecar.
Fishtail: Aft lateral oscillation of a vehicle, generally the
result of traction loss.
Flagman: Person who uses flags to signal various conditions
to the drivers and teams. At weekly-racing events, the flagman is
often the person who has the final say over the starting and
stopping of the race, and handing out penalties to drivers who
commit infractions. (In professional series, a race director
generally has that responsibility.) Generally, the flagman stands on
a platform that is elevated over the outside edge of the track, at
the start/finish line. (In old films, one can see the flagman
standing on the track, but that is rarely done now due to the
obvious safety concern.) Also referred to as the starter.
Flags: Used by the flagman to signal various conditions to
the drivers and teams. At most tracks, a series of signal lights
around the perimeter of the track duplicates the functions of some
of the flags.
A flag demanding a car and driver report to the pits either
because the team is to be penalized, or because the car presents
some sort of hazard that must be fixed. A driver who continues
after that point will be disqualified. At many tracks, an
electric signboard next to the flagman's stand is used to
display the number of the car being black-flagged, to avoid
and Red together: Flags indicating the end of a practice or
qualifying session. All cars should exit the track and go to the
pits or garage area.
with a White “X”: Signals a racer that is ignoring a
black flag that if he/she does not come in they will cease
scoring that car.
with Yellow stripe: A signal to lapped cars to move out of
the way of faster cars. The actual rules associated with this
flag vary considerably. In some series, a driver can be
penalized for ignoring this flag; in others, it is strictly an
advisory (and in fact, the flagman might not bother).
(Black and White): The race is over. This flag is always
shown first to the winner; each car gets to complete the lap
that it is on, and then the race ends.
flags: (two flags furled and crossed in an X shape):
Indicates that half of the distance of the race has been
completed. Usually, in oval-track racing, the rules stipulate
that once one-half of the scheduled distance has been completed,
if some condition (such as weather) makes it impossible to
continue, the race will be called and the current running order
becomes the final result. The crossed flags are a signal that
this point in the race has been reached. Also, there is
sometimes a bonus award for being the leader of the race at the
and Yellow together: Used to indicate the start of a race,
when it is necessary to start the race under caution. This might
occur, for example, if it has rained before race time, the track
is still damp, and the race needs to start by a certain time in
order to meet television commitments.
Start racing, or resumes racing. The green flag is waved at the
start of the race, and at the end of every caution period; it
remains out until the next caution period, or the end of the
Race halted; all cars must drive slowly around to the
start-finish line (or some other point designated by the
officials) and then stop. Used when the track is blocked, or
needs repair, or to signal a scheduled break in the race or when
weather conditions make it unsafe to continue even at caution
with Yellow "X": Used by NASCAR to indicate that
the pits are closed (in all of the NASCAR professional series,
when a caution occurs, the pits are closed until the pace car
has entered the track and the field is formed up behind it). An
official positioned at the pit entrance holds this flag. Any car
that passes this flag and enters the pits is subject to a
penalty. Some other series use a similar flag to indicate that
there is an emergency vehicle on the track.
One more lap remains in the race. In NASCAR, a car may not pit
or receive any form of assistance (for instance, a push from
another car) after taking the white flag.
Caution period indicates that a wreck has occurred, or some
Flash Shield: A device to encompass the
air inlet of a carburetor's sides, top, rear. To protect driver in
case of engine backfire.
Flat: Description of a tire assembly that won't retain
Flat Out: To run a racecar at maximum speed.
Flat Spot: A portion of a tire worn down excessively due to
locking the brakes or spinning the car.
Flip Ups: An aerodynamic device located in front of the rear
wheels to direct airflow over the back tires.
term in drag racing to describe the Funny Car class. Derived from
the fact that modern funny cars use a fiberglass body that
"flops" down over the chassis.
Fly by Wire: A term, borrowed from aviation, to describe a
control system where the driver, instead of directly controlling
something through mechanical linkage, controls it indirectly through
electrical actuators. In particular, refers to cars in which the
steering, transmission, throttle, or braking is controlled in this
Flywheel: A heavy metal rotating wheel that is part of the
race car's clutch system, used to keep the crankshaft turning
FMSA: Florida Mini-Sprint Association.
Footprint: The portion or amount of area of the tread that
contacts the road.
Force Variation: A process to measure differences in
tire/wheel consistency. Determines the highest portion of the tread
in order to match it up to the lowest portion of the wheel for best
performance and minimize tire/wheel assembly vibration.
Formula One: An open wheel series similar to Indy cars but
with more sophisticated computer controls, higher rpm engines, and
mostly run on road courses. Considered to be the highest form of
Forward Bite: A
general term used to describe the amount of force available to move
the car forward. In setup, putting more forward bite in usually
refers to adding more traction to the rear of the car.
Foul Start: Leaving the stage beam at the starting line
before the green bulb illuminates resulting in immediate
disqualification. Red lights at the bottom of the Christmas Tree
signify a foul start.
Four-Barrel: The type of carburetor used in many types of
Four-Link Suspension: Commonly
used racing suspension. Found in all forms of racing, four link is
characterized by four individual bars, two on each side of the rear
end, used to control rear end movement and traction.
Four-Point, Five-Point: See harness.
Fours: Four-car-wide salute to the fans from the racers.
Normally at the start of the night’s main event.
FPRS: Formula Pro Racing Series.
Frame: The main structure or chassis of the car.
Frame Rails: Main lengthwise component beams of the chassis
Free: The same as loose. A handling condition (known as
"over-steer" to road racers) where, when the car goes
through a corner, the rear end of the car wants to slide towards the
outside of the turn. If the car gets loose enough, it will spin out.
Adjustments can be made to “free up the car”.
Freight Train: A group of drafting cars lined up like a train.
Fresh Rubber: New tires.
Friction: Contact between two surfaces. Usually results in
Front Clip: Beginning at the firewall, the front most section
of a racecar.
Front Steer: An arrangement of the steering gear where the
tie rods connect to the wheel hub at a point forward of the kingpin.
Front Stretch: Main straightaway between turns 4 and 1 on an
FSCDRS: Fastest Street Car Drag Racing Series.
Fuel: Flammable liquid used to power internal-combustion
Fuel Cell: A type of fuel tank that has a rubber (or similar)
inner lining, to contain the fuel if the outer tank is punctured.
Most also contain a foam or metal-mesh filling, which prevents fuel
sloshing and keeps the flame out of the tank if a fire occurs.
Fuel Check: An area of technical inspection in which fuel is
tested for compliance.
Fuel Injection: (F.I.) A system replacing conventional
carburetion, which delivers fuel under pressure directly into the
Fuel Pump: A device that pumps fuel from the fuel cell
through the fuel line into the carburetor.
Fuel Stint: The amount of laps or time run on a full tank of
Full Bore: Running as fast as possible.
Full-Face: A helmet that covers the entire face and head.
When used with a head sock, it provides full-uninterrupted coverage
of the driver's upper body against fire, and the enclosure of the
mouth prevents the driver from inhaling the flame during a fire. It
also provides protection to the forehead and eyes, and makes
separate goggles unnecessary.
Full Floater: A type of rear axle where the axle housing
extends all the way out to the wheels, and the wheels are held on
bearings fastened to the ends of the housing tubes. Works in
conjunction with drive plates.
Full Tree: The method used to start cars at the starting
line. The method used is one yellow light is used at a time, then
the green light. As opposed to all yellow lights are lit at once
then the green light (Pro-Tree). The reaction time used in full tree
Back to top
G’s: Gravitational forces exerted on a
car and driver under acceleration, braking, and cornering.
Garage Area: A covered or enclosed area, usually in the infield
of an oval track, where the racecars are stored and worked in when
not on the track. The garage area is the place for performing
repairs that are more extensive than possible in the pits. The
garage area is protected from the "hot" area of the
racetrack, and no fast driving is allowed there. Indy car and road
racers sometimes refer to the "paddock" area.
GARRA: (Grand Am) Grand American Road Racing Association.
Sanctions Sports Car racing events in the US and Canada.
Gas: Used to mean gasoline (as opposed to alcohol or other
fuels). This usage appears more commonly in drag racing, where a
division with the word "Gas" in its name means those cars
in that division must run on gasoline, but it is also used some in
oval track racing.
Gas Catcher: Pit crewmember that is responsible for the catch
can. This person may also perform other duties during a pit stop.
Gasket: A thin material, made of paper, metal, silicone, or
other synthetic materials, used as a seal between two similar
machined metal surfaces such as cylinder heads and the engine block.
Gasman: The member of the pit crew who refuels the car. In
stock car racing this person must lift heavy cans of racing gasoline
(Usually 22 gallons weighing about 87 lbs. or 40 kg) up to the car's
filler inlet. In Indy car racing, this person handles a large hose
with a huge stainless-steel connector at the end, which delivers
fuel from a tank on a stand behind the pit wall.
Gasoline: see gas
Gasoline Alley: The garage area at Indianapolis Motor
Gasser: A dragster or any car that runs on gas.
Gather/Gathered It Up: Regaining control of a racecar after
becoming loose or spinning.
Gathered Up: A car becoming involved in a wreck not his/her
fault. Being “gathered up” by another car.
Gauge: An instrument, usually mounted on the dashboard, used
to monitor engine conditions such as fuel pressure, oil pressure and
temperature, water pressure and temperature, and RPM (revolutions
GCS: Golden State Challenge.
Gearbox: Racing term for a transmission.
Gear Ratio: The ratio of engine RPM’s to rear wheel RPM’s.
Gears: Circular, wheel-shaped parts with teeth along the
edges. The interlocking of two of these mechanisms enables one to
turn the other.
Gearset: Two or more gears used to transmit power.
Gilmer Belt: Toothed or splined drive belt used with matching
pulley, generally a non-slip drive belt. The large belt used
to transfer power from the engine's crankshaft to the input shaft of
a supercharger. Most are reinforced and molded to match the teeth of
the drive gear.
Give Up: Gradual or drastic deterioration of a tires performance
Glass Transition Point: The temperature that the tread rubber
will freeze and crack. This temperature will vary depending on the
GLOSS: Great Lakes Outlaw Sprint Car Series.
Going up through the Gears: Refers to a driver up-shifting
from the lowest to the highest gear.
Gold Crown: The name that USAC used for its Indy car series
between about 1970 and 1980. Prior to about 1970 there were few
paved-track Indy car races; many races which were part of the
"National Championship Trail" (which traces its lineage
back to the AAA days) were held on dirt, using cars called Champ
cars built for the purpose. By 1970, the Champ cars and the
rear-engine Indy cars had diverged wildly, and so USAC decided to
separate the dirt track races and form a separate series for them
which was named the Silver Crown series.
Got Under: When a car out brakes another going into a turn and
passes on the inside.
Graining: A pattern of nearly parallel ridges on a tires tread.
Cause by over aggressive driving on a tire that has a compound that
is usually too soft or has not been allowed to be brought up to a
good operating temperature.
Grand Am: Grand American Road Racing Association. Sanctions
Sports Car racing events in the US and Canada.
Grand Marshal: An honorarium, usually reserved for sponsors
and celebrities. Feature races often have a grand marshal, whose
most visible function is doing the traditional "Gentlemen,
start your engines" bit at the beginning of the race.
Grand National: The original name for what is now known as
the NASCAR Winston Cup series. The Grand National name was adopted
in the early '50s, and persisted until 1971 when the series named
was changed to Winston Cup, after its title sponsor. To make things
confusing for historians, when the old Late Model Sportsmen series
was re-formed into a touring series in 1982, it was given the name
Busch Grand National. The Winston Cup name is now used generally to
refer to the NASCAR top series, both before and after 1971.
Grand National East: This was a series created by NASCAR in
1972. It consisted of all of the dirt-track races which were removed
from the Winston Cup series that year, both to reduce the number of
races on the WC schedule and because the dirt races were considered
old-fashioned and too stereotypically Southern. (Consequently, this
year is generally considered to be the beginning of what is now
called the "modern era" of NASCAR racing.) Without the
Winston Cup stars, the Grand National East series races drew poorly,
and the series died out after two years.
Grand National West: At the time that NASCAR created the Late
Model Sportsmen championship for local and regional racers in the
South and East in 1948, it recognized that it would be impractical
for teams on the West Coast to tow their cars to the other side of
the country to participate. Because NASCAR wished to maintain its
ties with the West Coast hot rodders, it created a similar but
separate series called the Pacific Coast Late Model series. In 1972,
when the Grand National East series was created, the PCLM series was
renamed Grand National West to be analogous with Grand National
East, even though the two series were nothing alike in the cars, the
racing, or the participants. Unlike the ill-fated East series, the
West series survives today and a vestige of the name change can be
seen in its current name, Winston West.
Grand Prix: This French term meaning grand prize is widely
used to refer to a race. At one time in racing, it was used
exclusively for a series' grand finale, usually the most important
Gray: Area on a paved track where nobody runs, particular in
the corners. Sometimes it actually is visibly a lighter color than
the groove. The gray area is often full of marbles and other loose
material that causes a severe loss of traction for any car that goes
Green: (1) The state of the track when a green flag is in
effect; the opposite of a caution period. (2) A track which is
either newly paved, or has experienced heavy rain since the last
time the track was raced on, or just hasn't been used in a while. A
"green" track lacks the accumulation of tire rubber that
builds up when the track is raced on, which changes the handling
characteristics of cars that race on the track.
Green and Yellow Flags together: Used to indicate the start
of a race, when it is necessary to start the race under caution.
This might occur, for example, if it has rained before race time,
the track is still damp, and the race needs to start by a certain
time in order to meet television commitments.
Green Flag: Start racing, or resumes racing. The green flag
is waved at the start of the race, and at the end of every caution
period; it remains out until the next caution period, or the end of
Greenhouse: The area inside the racecar, generally referring
to the top inside part of the racecar, where the driver sits.
The greenhouse area is basically from the windshield to the back
deck lid, and from the doorframes up.
Green Tire: A completely assembled tire that has not yet been
cured. Also refers to an environmentally friendly tire that uses
Green Track: A track which is either newly paved, or has
experienced heavy rain since the last time the track was raced on,
or just hasn't been used in a while. A "green" track lacks
the accumulation of tire rubber that builds up when the track is
raced on, which changes the handling characteristics of cars that
race on the track.
Green/White/Checkered: When a caution occurs near the end of a
race, the series officials may choose to go passed the advertised
race length to get the race in under green. They may finish the
caution and then go green for one lap, followed by the white flag
indicting one lap to go, and then finish with a checkered flag.
Basically a 2-lap finish under green instead of finishing a race
under a caution.
Grenade: An engine built to go very fast for a few laps, for
qualifying. Grenade engines are usually built with lightweight parts
and will often blow in spectacular fashion if run for more than a
handful of laps.
Grid: The starting order of the field, in the physical
positions that they will actually start the race. Also refers to the
part of the track where cars are assembled pre-race.
Groove: (1) The line or path through a corner which drivers
have found to be the fastest. Where the groove is depends on a huge
number of factors, such as the type of paving, the car weight,
tires, downforce, driving style, track and weather conditions, etc.
It is not uncommon for the groove to change during a long race,
particularly on a dirt track. (2) Channels that are cut or molded
into the tread portion of the tire. These grooves make up the tread
Grooving: A term used when a tool with a blade is used to
alter the tread pattern of a tire. When using this tool it will
create a new groove in the tread surface. The size of the groove
varies and depends upon the width of the blade being used. This
method is used to increase traction by giving the tires more edges
on the tread surface to grip with.
Ground Effects: Use of airflow under the car to create
downforce. (The term "ground effects" comes from aviation,
but there it means the opposite: the tendency of an airplane near
the ground to float on a high-pressure cushion of air.) Most ground
effect cars use passive tunnels to create a venturi effect, which
draws air from under the car.
Growing: In racing, when tire
circumference increases as speeds increase. Tire growth is important
in heads-up classes where speed determines the race outcome. Less
contact patch on the top end leads to more M.P.H. In oval
track racing, when the circumference of a
tire increases due to heat and pressure build up. Tire growth
alters the stagger, and upsets the handling of the car. One
advantage of radial tires is that they don't grow.
GTA: GT American Road Racing Association.
Guard Beam: Light beam
positioned 16 inches ahead of the stage beam to prevent racers from
using side panels behind the front tires to block the staging beams,
thereby gaining a starting line advantage. If the guard beam is
reached before the car leaves the staging beam, a red light is given
and the car disqualified.
Gurney Flap: A small spoiler-like tab that sticks up (or
down) perpendicular to an aerodynamic surface, such as a wing; it
has the effect of increasing air pressure on that side of the
surface, making it produce more force in one direction or the other.
Perfected in the early '70s by legendary Indy car driver and
designer Dan Gurney.
Gusset: A reinforcement addition adding web-like or
triangulation reinforcement to car structure, usually welded in
Back to top
Hairpin: A slow, tight 180-turn which
exits in the opposite direction a driver enters.
Half-Shaft: In a car with independent suspension on the rear
wheels, the part that carries the engine power from the rear end to
the wheels. (Or the front wheels on a front-wheel-drive car.) The
half shaft must have some kind of mechanism in order to be able to
move with an independently-suspended wheel, while still being able
to transmit torque to the wheel; universal joints or
constant-velocity joints are commonly used. The half shaft is so
called because it is "half an axle".
Halftime: A scheduled break in a race that occurs when half
of the scheduled laps have been completed. A red flag is flown, and
all cars go to the pits for 5-10 minutes, where work can be done.
The halftime is used when a racing series wants to de-emphasize the
importance of pit stops. The NCTS series dropped it because they
found that, eventually, there was little racing taking place in the
first half of the race; teams were simply using the first-half laps
as a test session in order to put in a finely tuned chassis setup
during the halftime. May also refer to a competition yellow.
Halon: Special Freon Fire Extinguisher. Generally a 3% to 5%
concentration will extinguish fire.
Hammer Down: The driver has the gas pedal "to the
metal"- full throttle.
Handicap: In bracket racing, when one
car is faster than the other, the slower gets a head start.
Handicaps are based on previous elapsed times or dial-ins.
Handling: A general term for the racecar's capability to go
where the driver wants it to go on the track, and be fast in the
process. See loose and push.
Hanford Device: A type of rear wing used by CART on
superspeedways. The Hanford device is intentionally designed to
produce very high aerodynamic drag, in an effort to slow down the
extremely fast CART cars on superspeedways. Results have been mixed;
the racing that results is sometimes compared to the effects that
restrictor plates have had on Winston Cup.
HANS Device: Head and Neck Restraint System. A driver
restraining system that straps over the driver shoulder and securely
attaches the helmet to anchors to reduce the snapping motion of the
driver's neck during an impact.
Happy Hour: The final hour of practice before an event,
usually held the day before the race day and after all qualifying
sessions and support races have been staged.
Hard Charger: The driver that has passed the most cars in the
Harmonic Balancer: An element used to reduce vibration in the
Harness: The safety belt system worn by a race driver. The
basic racing harness is a "four-point" unit; it has four
belt lengths that meet in the middle of the driver's pelvis. Two
points form a conventional lap belt, same as in a passenger car; the
other two go up the chest and over each of the driver's shoulders;
unlike a passenger-car shoulder belt, they do not cross over the
chest. In cars with a roll cage, they are fastened to a roll cage
member behind the driver's seat. (In open-cockpit cars, such as Indy
cars not having a roll cage, they are fastened to the part of the
chassis structure behind the driver's seat.) The place where the
four points meet has a one-lever disconnect that causes all four
harnesses segment to unfasten simultaneously, for rapid bailout.
Some series require a "five-point" harness, which adds a
belt that goes through the crotch and the bottom of the seat; this
prevents "submarining" (a term for when the driver slides
out from under the lap belt in a high-speed frontal impact). Some
shoulder harnesses have a horizontal strap that connects them and
crosses the breastbone; this is called the "sternum belt",
and it prevents the driver's breastbone from extruding out from
between the shoulder belts.
Hat Dance: A routine performed by the winning driver where he is
photograph in victory lane with each of the sponsors and sanctioning
Hauling The Mail: A term used by drivers to describe going
Head Sock: A fireproof hood that covers the entire face
(except eyeholes), head, and neck. Usually worn under a full-face
helmet. Also referred to as a "balaclava".
Head Wrench: Slang term for a race team's crew chief.
Headers: Fine-tuned tubular exhaust system routing exhaust
from engine. Replaces conventional cast exhaust manifolds.
Heads Up Race: In drag racing, when two cars from the same
classification in stock and super stock meet in an elimination
Heat Cycle: Refers to the number of times a tire is run up to
operating temperature and then allowed to fully cool.
Heat Race: A preliminary race to a feature. Heat races are
generally short, 8-15 laps in
distance. They serve to get both the cars and the fans warmed
up for the feature, and sometimes the outcome of the heat races is
used to determine the starting order of the feature.
Heel: The area of the bead that describes to transition
radius between the vertical and horizontal surfaces.
Heel and Toe: When a driver uses his right foot to operate both
the accelerator and brake pedals. Used on tracks that demand a lot
Hemi: (1) A type of cylinder head where the combustion
chamber is roughly in the shape of a hemisphere. Generally the
valves are opposite each other on the dome of the head, with the
spark plug centered; this results in better breathing and ignition
characteristics. A distinguishing and peculiar characteristic of a
hemi engine is that the spark plugs are underneath the valve covers,
and require metal tubes to shield the plug insulators from the oil.
Hemi engines are not seen much in Stock car racing anymore, but are
still quite common in Indy car and drag racing. (2) An engine
manufactured by Chrysler through about 1956-1971 with this type of
Hides: Slang term for tires.
High and Dry: When a racecar becomes too high on the track
and loses one or more positions.
High-Centered: To get a car hung up on a curb in a
"see-saw" position so that neither the front nor the rear
wheels has traction. (This is easy to do with racecars, which
generally have little ground clearance.) The car can't move until it
is pushed off the curb.
High Groove: The line or path on the track nearest to the outer
wall. Where the groove is depends on a huge number of factors, such
as the type of paving, the car weight, tires, downforce, driving
style, track and weather conditions, etc. It is not uncommon for the
groove to change during a long race, particularly on a dirt track.
High Heat: Describes over heating of a tire usually 260 degrees
Hitting Your Marks: The best spots on the track to either get
on or off the throttle. Also may refer to the best line or spots on
the track in which to run.
Hobby: A general name for a beginner-level Stock car class or
division. Also sometimes referred to by names such as Rookie,
Street, Cadet, etc. Hobby classes are usually based on older-model
sedan bodies (the early '70s Chevelle/Impala is common), and engines
with production blocks and intake manifolds. However, some Hobby
classes are actually Mini Stock cars.
Hole Shot: A drag racing term for beating an opponent off the
starting line and winning a race despite having a slower elapsed
time. Other racers use this term to describe a good start or
Hood: Panel that protects and allows access to the engine.
Hood Pins: Metal and wire tethers used to secure the hood.
Hooked Up: A car that is performing great because all parts
are working well together.
Horsepower: Used to measure the strength of any engine or
motor. One horsepower equals 33,000 foot-pounds per minute or the
force needed to lift 33,000 pounds at one foot per minute.
HOSS: Hoosier Outlaw Sprint Series.
Hot (track or pits): The condition of the track and pits when
racecars are on the track (whether at speed or not). For safety
reasons, tracks have restrictions on who can be in the pits or
garage area when the track is hot.
Hot Lap: Running at race speed or near race speed during
practice or testing.
Hot Shoe: Slang term for a fast driver.
HSCRA: Historic Stock Car Racing Association.
Hub: The part that connects the axle to the wheel.
Humpy's House: The Charlotte (Lowe’s) Motor Speedway
located in Concord, North Carolina, just north of Charlotte, Because
of the famed race promoter, as well as president and general manager
of the speedway, H.A. 'Humpy' Wheeler.
Hundredths: 1/100th of a second. Used in timing lap
times. The second digit to the right of the decimal point.
Hunting the Bottom: Slang term for a racecars ability to cut
into the turn well and stay on the bottom of a corner.
Hutchens Device: Driver's head and neck restraint system.
Hydraulic: When a cylinder fills with too much fuel, thus
prohibiting compression and causing a mechanical malfunction,
usually an explosive one. Most often
seen in Nitro-methane-powered classes such as Top Fuel and Funny
Hydroplaning: A skimming effect caused by tires losing
contact with a surface covered with water.
Hysteresis: The rate that a rubber compound bounces back to
its original shape after pressure has been applied.
Back to top
IDBA: International Drag Bike
Idiot Light: Can refer to a light that alerts the driver to a
malfunction (as in a passenger car), but in a racing context, it
usually refers to a large, attention-getting light that alerts the
driver that the brake and/or clutch pedal is being depressed. Such a
thing is used to cure drivers of "riding" the brake or
clutch with the left foot.
Ignition: An electrical system used to ignite the air-fuel
mixture in an internal combustion engine.
IHRA: International Hot Rod Association.
ILMS: Intermountain Late Model Series.
IMCA: International Motor Contest Association. Probably the
oldest existing sanctioning body in the world, IMCA has been
sanctioning Modified and Stock car racing, mostly on dirt, in the
U.S. Midwest and West since the '30s. In the '90s, IMCA experienced
a surge in popularity, as their Modified rules became very popular
with promoters looking for a low-cost formula. Not to be confused
Impact Wrench: A powered wrench that uses a combination of
torque and a hammering action to loosen and tighten fasteners.
Racers often use this term (improperly) as a synonym for air wrench.
IMS: Intermountain Mini-Sprints.
IMSA: International Motor Sport Association, the former name
of the sanctioning body now known as Grand American Road Racing.
This body was formed in the early '70s to sanction professional
sports car racing in the U.S. IMSA sanctions the 24 Hours of
IMTRA: International Mini-Truck Racing Association.
In Contention: In general, describes a car that has a
legitimate shot at a race victory.
Inboard Brakes: Refers to the mounting of a car's braking
mechanism inside the car body, rather than on the wheel as is
usually done. The advantage of inboard brakes is that they reduce
the wheels' un-sprung weight, which improves handling.
Increasing Radius Corner: A turn that has a smaller radius
during the first half of the corner.
Independent: A driver who owns his own racing team, and
relies on race winnings as much or more than sponsorship money to
finance his racing.
Independent Suspension: A type of suspension where an axle
does not support connecting wheels, but by suspension members that
support each wheel separately.
Index: 1) Elapsed time assigned by a sanctioning body such as
NHRA or IHRA that defines a class (8.90 is the standard index for
Super Comp in NHRA). Index may be altitude adjusted. 2) An index
also allows various classes to race together with an equitable
handicap starting system.
Index Finger: When shown during a caution period, indicates
that one lap under yellow remains, and that the green will be waved
on the next lap. This is also indicated by the pace car turning off
its flashing lights.
Indy Cars: An open wheel formula using small-displacement,
methanol- burning, engines. Named after the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway, where they have raced since 1909, Indy cars are the only
American oval-track racing types that have been heavily influenced
by direct European involvement. Beginning in 1995, there are two
organizations sanctioning Indy car races in the U.S.: CART and the
Indy Racing League. The CART series includes both ovals and road
courses, although the current schedule includes more of the latter;
the IRL runs only on ovals.
Indy Racing League (IRL): A sanctioning body, owned and run
by Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George. The IRL
conducts a series of Indy car style racing using cars that resemble
(but are less expensive than) cars as sanctioned by CART. The IRL
runs exclusively on ovals. Formed in 1995.
Infield: The area enclosed by the racecourse. Typically, the
infield contains the pits, the garage area (if there is one), and
spectator areas (at most larger tracks). Some large oval tracks have
road courses running through their infields. However, at some short
tracks (particularly dirt tracks shorter than 1/2 mile), the pits
are located outside the track, and the infield is just an unpaved,
unoccupied area. Oval variants such as the tri-oval and the
quad-oval have their pits distant from the front stretch, and the
open area separating the two is also referred to as the infield.
Inline: Commonly used to describe an engine with all
cylinders and valve stems in a single row.
Inner Liner: A safety device for racing tires. An inner liner
is a sort of tire-within-a-tire; it has its own air containment and
its own valve stem separate from the main carcass of the tire. The
inner liner is inflated to a pressure higher (usually 12-15 psi)
than the main carcass. Inner-liners are not suitable for racing on,
but they are good enough to allow the driver, in the event of a
blown or flat tire, to retain control long enough to get the car
slowed down and get to the pits without wrecking. The modern inner
liner tire was invented by Goodyear and introduced to racing via
Winston Cup in 1965. Also referred to as a Safety Liner or Safety
In/Out Box: Contains direct drive slider gears on a Sprint
Car. Since Sprint Cars do not have a clutch, the car has to be put
in gear to be ready to race.
Inside Line: The shortest line around the track. Also, the
part of the track that is closest to the infield.
specific set of guidelines set by the race officials that all
competitors must adhere to. Generally, there are two main categories
of inspection, safety and rules inspection. Seats, harnesses,
brakes, and steering are usually safety inspections while engine
offset, wheel width, tires, and body specifications are all forms of
rules inspection. Inspection can be done anytime during an event,
but most safety inspections are done only pre-race. Rules
inspections are sometimes done pre-qualifications,
post-qualifications, and post-race. When a series requires drivers
to use the same tire in qualifications as in the race, tire marking
is also done and checked in inspection.
Intake Manifold: A housing that directs the air/fuel mixture
through the port openings in the cylinder heads.
Intermediate: A tire that is intended for use in damp or
slight rain conditions.
Intermediate Track: A racetrack that is usually more than one
mile but less than 2 miles in length.
Interval: The time-distance between two cars. Referred to
roughly in car lengths, or precisely in seconds.
Interval Timers: In drag racing, interval timers are part of
a secondary timing system that records elapsed times, primarily for
the racers' benefit, at 60, 330, 660, and 1000 feet.
Inverted Start: A starting order where the first qualifier
starts last, the second qualifier starts next-to-last, and so on. Most
often seen in asphalt short track racing to increase competition and
further entertain spectators.
IRA: International Racing Association or Interstate Racing
IRL: Indy Racing League. A sanctioning body, owned and
run by Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George. The IRL
conducts a series of Indy car style racing using cars that resemble
(but are less expensive than) cars as sanctioned by CART. The IRL
runs exclusively on ovals. Formed in 1995.
IROC: International Race of Champions. Sanctions like prepared
cars and features selected drivers from different forms of racing.
ISA: International Stock Car Association.
ISMA: International Super Modified Association. Sanctions Super
Modified racing in the United States and Canada.
Back to top
Jack Man: The member of a pit crew who
operates the jack.
Jack Post: Sturdy post or rail on the side of the car where
the jack man places the jack.
Jericho: A type of manual transmission, designed so that most
gearshifts can be accomplished without using the clutch (except for
shifting into gear from a dead stop). It accomplishes this trick
using "dog-ring" shifters and straight-cut gears that can
be mated at different speeds without clashing. Very popular in
Winston Cup and BGN for use on road courses, and finding increasing
use as an all-purpose transmission allowing for gear changes on
ovals when necessary (such as at Pocono).
Jet: When air is sent at a high velocity through the
carburetor, jets direct the fuel into the airstream. Jets are made
slightly larger to make a richer mixture or slightly smaller to make
a more lean mixture, depending on track and weather conditions.
Jumping The Start: When a driver anticipates the start (green
flag) too early. This will cause a complete restart. Continued
violations will result in a penalty.
Junior Dragster: An
entry-level class for children under age 16 in NHRA drag racing
competition. Junior Dragsters are ½-scale versions of a traditional
Top-Fuel Dragster. All components are aftermarket except for the 8
horsepower Briggs and Stratton mandated engines. Like Top-Fuel
Dragsters, these machines utilize a tube chassis with a small roll
cage encasing the driver, aluminum manual steering, narrow
bicycle-type front tires, butterfly steering wheel, and fuel cells.
Some differences include a chain drive system, solid rear axle,
centrifugal clutch, and restricted fuel.
Junior Fuel: A
class of drag racing that reflects the history of today's Top Fuel
Class. Jr. Fuel cars look and perform like Top Fuel cars of the
60's. Traditional front-engine dragsters are combined with smaller
engines, narrow tires, and restricted Nitro-methane fuel to produce
drag racing like it used to be.
Back to top
KARS: Keystone Auto Racing on Speedways.
Kart: A very small, open-frame (no bodywork) single-seat car
powered by a low-displacement engine similar to (but more powerful
than) a lawnmower engine. Karts generally are direct drive with no
transmission (although there are "shifter karts" which
have gearboxes; these usually race at the advanced levels) and have
wheels suspended by solid axles attached directly to the frame (no
springs). Karts are raced both on ovals and road courses; oval races
are often conducted on 1/16-mile bicycle velodromes. There are kart
classes ranging from preteen children to professional. See also
Kevlar: A high stiffness, high strength material developed by
DuPont. Used as tire cord because of its good mechanical and
chemical properties at high temperature.
Kilopascal: (kPa) The metric unit for air pressure. There are
6.9 kPa's to one psi.
Kitty Litter: Slang term for Speedy Dry or other granular
substances used to soak up oil, gas, or water spills.
KLASCAR: Keystone Legends Association of Stock Car Auto Racers.
Back to top
Ladder Bars: A 3-point traction device
with 2 attaching points at rear axle housing and 1 point at frame.
Used to transfer traction back to rear wheels by changing pinion
angle and preventing excess rear weight transfer.
Lap: One complete circuit around the track.
Lapped Car: A car, which is running, slows enough (or been in
the pits long enough), such that the race leader has come all the
way around the track and passed it, has been "lapped".
This means that it has run at least one less lap than the leader.
Lapped Traffic: Cars that have completed at least one full
lap less than the race leader.
Late Apex: Turning into a corner late and missing the optimum
Late Model: A general name for an advanced-level Stock car
class or division. These cars usually have purpose-built tube-frame
Lateral G's: Sideway force experienced while turning.
Lay Down Engine: All V-shaped engines are top-heavy. In the
mid'50s (back when Indy cars were still front-engine), some chassis
designers figured out that by tipping the engine on its left side,
the engine could be made lower in profile. This placed its center of
gravity lower and further to the left, a great benefit to the bulky
roadsters of the day. This is called a lay down engine. It was very
popular in Indy cars from about 1955 to 1965 (when rear-engine
chassis took over that series), and is still seen in Super-Modifieds.
Lead Lap: The lap that the race leader is currently on.
Lead Foot: Slang term for a driver who is very fast, but is
also rough on equipment and doesn't know when to take it easy. Lead
foot drivers win many races, but they also break cars and crash a
Lean: Running and lower fuel to air mixture. Drivers trying
to conserve fuel will "run their engines lean" by using a
decreased fuel/increased air mixture.
Left Foot Braking: A technique used on oval tracks where
shifting gears at speed is not necessary. Braking with the left foot
provides shorter reaction time, since the foot does not have to be
moved from one pedal to the other. However, the driver must be
careful not to "ride" the brake with the left foot. See
also idiot light.
Legends: A Dwarf car, spec series promoted by Charlotte Motor
Speedway owner Humpy Wheeler. Legends cars are built to tight
specifications exclusively by 600 Racing. A sealed, 4-cylinder
Yamaha motorcycle engine powers them, and no modifications are
allowed to any components. Unlike most dwarf cars, which are
open-wheeled, Legends cars have rudimentary fenders, as befits the
LeMans Start: A type of race start where the drivers are outside
of their cars, given a signal, then they must run to their cars,
start the engines, and begin racing.
Let Go: Term to describe when an engine fails or "blows
up." Also when other parts of a car fail.
Lexan: A trade name of General Electric used for a durable
thermal resistant plastic material used where transparent material
is required (i.e.. face plates, goggles, windows, etc.)
Lift: To let off or “lift” your foot off of the throttle.
Lights Out: When the lights on the pace car, emergency
vehicles, and track lights go out. Usually when the starter is ready
to display a green flag during the last lap before the start or
LIMCA: Long Island Mini-Cup Association.
Limited: A general name for an intermediate-level Stock car
class or division. These cars are more advanced than Street or Hobby
cars; often they will be later-model bodies (some tracks permit
drop-on one-piece plastic bodies in this class), and purpose-built
chassis rather than production chassis. Most limited classes require
a production based front clip on the chassis. Engines are less
restricted, but retain some limitations (for example, many tracks
require cast-iron blocks rather than aluminum). Class names include
Limited Stocks, Limited Late Models.
Line: (1) The route taken by a driver, especially through a
turn. The high line is a route close to the wall. A low line is
closer to the track's infield and shortest distance around the
track. (2) The painted line at the inside of the track usually
considered the boundary line of the racing surface.
Linear Spring: A spring that compresses at a steady rate. For
example, 1-inch of deflection for each 200 pounds applied. See
Little Car: Encompasses a wide range of competition, which
includes Mini-Champs, TQ’s (¾ Midgets), Mini-Cup cars and trucks,
LMTRA: Late Model Truck Racing Association.
Load Index: An assigned number ranging from 0 to 279 that
corresponds to the load carrying capacity of a tire.
Load Range: DOT required specification. Calculation based on
pressure, construction and speed. The average load a tire can bear
without damage under set specifications.
Loaded Section Height: The height of the section of the tire
that is making contact with the road.
Lock Down: To apply the brakes hard enough to totally lock
the wheels during a spin. When a car's brakes are locked and all
four wheels are sliding, the car will keep going in whatever
direction it is currently going, regardless of which way the front
Locked Rear End: Normal rear-end gears in a rear-wheel-drive
automobile perform a "differential" function; when the car
goes around a corner, they permit one wheel to turn faster than the
other, to compensate for the fact that the wheel on the outside must
cover a greater distance than the wheel on the inside. However, a
normal differential also has a tendency to shift power to a wheel
that is slipping, which usually results in worse slipping and causes
loss of power and handling problems. A locked rear end forces both
wheels to turn at exactly the same rate; this makes cornering more
difficult but provides better acceleration. (A quick-change rear end
often includes a "locking spool" that converts it to a
locked rear end when inserted into the gear set.) See also ratchet
Long Block: Refers to a stage of assembly of an engine (and
the state of assembly that engines might be sold in). Engine
assembly ranges from "bare block", which is just an engine
block with no moving parts, to "short block", which is a
block with crankshaft, rods, and pistons (but no cylinder heads or
valve train), to "long block", which is a complete engine
less carburetor, manifolds, ignition, and accessories.
Long Pedal: Commonly refers to a car's gas pedal because of
the design. Also used to describe a brake pedal when brakes wear out
because the driver has to push the pedal harder and further to slow
Loose: A handling condition (known as "over-steer"
to road racers) where, when the car goes through a corner, the rear
end of the car wants to slide towards the outside of the turn. If
the car gets loose enough, it will spin out. Loose is the opposite
of push and under-steer.
Loud Pedal: The accelerator, gas pedal, or throttle.
Low Groove: The line or path on the track nearest to the
infield. This is the shortest distance around the track but in some
conditions it may not be the fastest. Where the groove is depends on
a huge number of factors, such as the type of paving, the car
weight, tires, downforce, driving style, track and weather
conditions, etc. It is not uncommon for the groove to change during
a long race, particularly on a dirt track.
Lug Nuts: Threaded nut that when screwed onto the lugs,
attaches the wheel to hub.
Lugs: 1) Threaded stem or bolts that connects the
wheel to the hub with lug nuts. 2) Large rubber blocks in the design
of a tire tread.
Back to top
MACS: Mid-Atlantic Championship Series.
MAFCC: Mid-America Funny Car Circuit.
Magnaflux: The process of using a special electromagnet and
magnetic powder to detect cracks in iron, which may be invisible to
the naked eye. Used to check chassis and engine components to detect
potential problems before they occur. MANDRA
Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Drag Racing Association
MARA: Midwest Auto Racing Association.
Marbles: Loose pieces of rubber or debris above the upper groove
on the racetrack.
MARS: Mid-American Racing Series or Midwest All-Star Racing
Maximum Inflation Pressure: The maximum air pressure to which
a cold tire may be inflated; found molded onto the sidewall or
specified by a tire manufacturer.
MCR: Midwest Classic Racers.
MCSCC: Midwest Council of Sports Car Clubs.
MDRA: Midwest Drag Racing Association.
Meats: Slang term for tires. Mostly used in drag racing.
Memory Tach: A tachometer, which records its RPM readout over
the course of a lap, or a few laps, and can replay the readout on
command. Memory tachs are useful for diagnosing things like wheel
spin coming out of a corner and some have features such the ability
to display the highest RPM over the recording period.
Methanol: Technically pure methyl alcohol CH3oh (toxic)
produced by synthesis.
Micro-Sprint: Form of racing using ½ scale sprint cars.
Midget: An open wheel car formula using short wheelbase
chassis with driver enclosed in a roll cage and the engine in front
of the driver. Midget cars run on ovals exclusively. Engines are
usually 4-cylinder, normally aspirated. At one time, outboard (boat)
motor engines were popular for use in Midgets, but recently
production-based, aluminum, four cylinder engines from Ford and
Dodge have appeared. The best-known Midget series are sanctioned by
M.I.G.: Metal Insert Gas Arc welding. Uses a continuous-feed
filler rod material pulled through the torch from a roll of wire.
Mini-Sprint: Form of racing using ½ scale sprint cars.
Mini Stock: A general name for a class or division based on
'70s or '80s compact-car models such as the Ford Mustang, Pinto, and
Pontiac Sunbird. These are characterized by lightweights and
4-cylinder engines, with the level of rules and competition being
otherwise similar to a Hobby class. This type of class is becomingly
increasingly popular as old 4-cylinder compacts are plentiful.
Minimum Weight: The lowest allowed weight for the vehicle in
its class. Can be measured pre or post race.
Mirror Driving: Driving while paying an inordinate amount of
attention to a car or cars behind (while paying less attention to
one's own line); especially, driving so as to make it difficult for
faster cars behind to pass. Usually considered poor form.
MLRA : Midwest Late Model
MMA : Michigan Modified
MMRA: Miniature Motorsports Racing Association.
MNMRA: National Motorsports Racing Association.
MNNA: National Modified Midget Association.
Modified Midget: Form of racing using ½ scale sprint cars.
Modifieds: These are open-wheel, enclosed-cockpit,
front-engine cars that race mainly on ovals. Some have external
framing, often known as "nerf bars", to add chassis
stiffness, and to protect the front end and sides of the car. There
are a number of formulas, ranging from very cheap (IMCA's) to very
expensive (NASCAR's). Racing may be on dirt or paved ovals depending
on the formula. Engines are stock-block, and use gas and/or alcohol
depending on the formula. Modifieds have seen a revival in many
parts of the U.S. over the last decade. See also Super modified.
Modulus: A measurement of a given materials stiffness and how
much it deforms in response to stress. Usually referring to rubber.
Moonpie: Slang term for a serious, dedicated, and very excitable
Mount: Installing a tire on a rim or wheel.
MOVRC: Midwest Old-timers Vintage Club.
MPH.: Miles per hour.
MPSA : Midwest Pro Stock
MRA : Midwest
MSCS : Midwest Sprint Car
Series or Midwest Super Comp Series.
MSRA : Modified Stock
MST : Montana Sprint Tour.
MVRCA: Maine Vintage Racing Car Association.
MVSCC: Mid-state Vintage Stock Car Club.
Back to top
North American Auto Racing Series
NAMRA: North American Mini-Champ Racing Association.
NASA: National Auto Sport Association sanctions road racing.
NASCAR: National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. The top
promoter of stock car racing in the U.S., NASCAR sanctions series
ranging from the Winston Cup series, through regional racing in the
South, Southwest, and Northeast (U.S.), down to local Saturday night
racing. It also sanctions regional Modified racing in the Northeast.
NBS: NASCAR Busch Series.
NCMA: Northern California Modified Association.
NCRA : National
Championship Racing Association.
NCS: Nextel Cup Series.
NCTR : National Dirt Truck
NCTS: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
NEAR : New England Antique
NEMA : Northeastern Midget
NESCC : New England Sprint
Neutral: (1) A position of transmission in which the engine and
the drive train are not engaged. (2) A term driver's use when
referring to how their car is handling when a car is neither loose
nor pushing tight.
NFCA: Northeast Funny Car Association.
NHRA: National Hot Rod Association sanctions national drag
Nitro: Short for nitro methane, an oxygen-containing exotic
fuel. Mix ratios are generally 90%
methanol to 10% Nitro-methane.
Nitrous: Short for nitrous oxide (N2O), the same stuff that
the dentist puts you to sleep with. When injected into an
internal-combustion engine, it provides extra oxygen (being about
35% oxygen, as opposed to air, which is 21% oxygen), and gives the
engine a boost similar to the effect of a turbocharger. Sometimes
used in performance passenger vehicles but more commonly seen in
Pro-Modified and Pro-Street Drag Racing.
NLMSS: National Late Model Series, Southern Dirt Tour
NLRA : Northern Late Model
NMCA : National Mustang
NMMA: National Modified Midget Association. Sanctions modified
midget racing in the United States.
NMRA : National 3/4 Midget
Racing Association and Ford Racing Series
NNCS: NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.
Nomex: A trademark for a fire-resistant fiber often used in
fire suits. Originally invented by Du Pont for NASA in the early
'60s, Nomex was introduced to racing in 1970, and has enormously
improved the safety of the sport. There are now other fibers around
that do the same thing, such as PBI and Kevlar, but Nomex is still a
Nominal Rim Diameter: The diameter of a tire rim, given in
nearest whole numbers (e.g. 15")
Non-Fill: Small portions of the tire that did no completely
fill in during expansion in the tire press. Cosmetic
in nature and most often occur on sidewalls of tires.
Normally Aspirated: Term for an engine that does not employ
turbo charging or supercharging. Most Stock, Midget, and Sprint car
racing engines are normally aspirated. IRL mandated normally
aspirated engines in its Indy car series starting in 1997.
NOS: (1) Abbreviation for New, Old Stock. Refers to new but
older products or replacement parts. (2) Abbreviation for Nitrous
Nosing Over: When a racecar's performance "flattens
out" or doesn't pull down the straights anymore. Poor tuning or
exceeding the engine's power range cause this.
Nose Wing: An airfoil, used to generate down force to improve
steering capabilities. It is normally around 3' x 2' in size.
The wing is usually mounted directly above the front axle.
Novelty Racing: A form of racing, which relies on a trick or
gimmick to make it appealing to the fans.
NORA: Northeast Organized Racing Association.
NOSA : Northern Outlaw
Sprint Association and Sprint Invaders.
NSCA : Nebraska Sprint Car
NSRA : Northwest Sprint
Car Racing Association.
NSS : Nostalgia Super
NST : Northern Sprint
NVRA: National Vintage Racing Association. Sanctions vintage
oval track racing.
NWCS: NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
NWMS : Northwest Modified
NWSST: Northwest Street Stock Tour.
Back to top
: Oil Capital Racing Association.
O.E.: Original Equipment (as originally produced and installed
by factory that manufactured automobile.) Originally equipped.
O.E.M.: Original Equipment Manufacturer. Original Automobile
O.H.C.: Overhead Cam.
Off-Camber Turn: A corner with negative banking (the inside
edge of the corner is higher than the outside edge). Seldom if ever
seen on ovals, but some road courses have them.
Off-Road: (1) A form of racing which runs on an unpaved,
ungraded course. Traditionally, this is a point-to-point,
natural-terrain open course (for example, the Baja 1000). But, as
environmental concerns have restricted the use of natural-terrain
courses, forms of off-road racing using unpaved, purpose-built
closed courses (e.g., the Mickey Thompson series) are becoming more
popular. Note that racing on dirt ovals is never referred to as
"off-road". (2) A phrase used in advertisements for racing
parts and supplies to refer to the fact that a part may not be legal
for use in a car that is driven on public roads.
Offset: (1) Weight: The difference in weight between the left
and ride sides of the car. On an oval track, handling is improved by
having as much weight over to the left as possible, so car builders
usually offset the weight to the left as much as the series rules
permit. (2) Chassis: A physical offset of the body between the
wheels, accomplished by making the right side suspension parts
longer then the left. Again, this is done to improve handling. (3)
Drivetrain: An offset of the engine to the left side of the
car body. See also lay down engine. 4) Wheel offset: the distance
between the centerline and the mounting face.
Oil: Liquid use to lubricate mechanical parts.
Oil Pump: A device that distributes oil throughout the engine
to lubricate all moving parts.
On the Bubble: The last position available to qualify for the
One-more-lap Signal: A signal to the drivers that the green
flag will be flown on the next lap. This usually consists of two
things: the flagman holding up one finger, or a furled flag in the
shape of a one, to the field and the pace car turning its flashing
Open Competition: A series or event in which there are no
specific rules governing the use of a “spec” or specified part
such as a tire.
Open Hand: Indicates that five laps remain in the race.
Open Wheel: Cars that have their wheels exposed with no
fenders such as Sprint Cars and Midgets.
Opposite Lock: A technique for taking corners on a dirt track
(particularly one where the surface is loose or muddy). This
involves turning the car left into the corner and accelerating to
make the rear end slide out. The wheel is then turned right all the
way to the stops (the "opposite lock"), and the throttle
is used to make the car go around the corner -- more power makes the
car looser, less makes it push. This technique provides faster
corner entry and exit speeds on a dirt track than standard driving
Option Tire: An alternate tire made available by a tire
manufacturer for a particular race. Often the option tire is made
from a softer compound, which means that it will generally be faster
but will not last as long and may be prone to blistering. IRL
permits tire manufacturers to make option tires available to teams;
NASCAR, ASA, and most other oval-track series generally do not. CART
did prior to 1998, when a rules change effectively banned the
OSCA: Outlaw Street Car Association.
OSCAAR: Ontario Stock Car Association of Asphalt Racing.
Otto Cycle: The four operations of intake, compression,
power, and exhaust that constitute
one revolution of a cylinder in a 4-cycle engine. Also called a
cycle. Named for inventor Dr. Nikolaus Otto.
Out Brake: A driver gains time and position on an opponent by
applying the brakes later and deeper into a corner.
Outlaw: A race run without the supervision of a sanctioning
body, or a track that runs such races. In an outlaw race, the
promoter or track owner usually does the job of forming and
enforcing the rules. The term goes back to the '40s and '50s, when
sanctioning bodies jealously guarded "their" member
drivers and teams, and those who participated in an outlaw race were
often penalized by fines, loss of championship points, and/or
suspensions. (At one time, sanctioning bodies also regarded events
sanctioned by other organizations as "outlaw". See also
Oval: In general, a somewhat circular racecourse containing
only left-hand or right-hand turns. The actual shape of the track is
often not, strictly speaking, oval: other shapes include Tri-oval,
Quad-oval, D-oval, Rectangle, and Triangle. (See individual
definitions) Ovals are nearly always run in the counterclockwise
direction. In standard Stock car usage, there are three categories
of ovals, as classified by their lengths: Short tracks, which are
less than one mile in length. Intermediates, which are at least one
mile but less than 1-1/2 miles in length. Superspeedways, which are
1- 1/2 miles or greater in length. Note that the IRL uses a
different classification. In IRL usage, a 1-mile track is a short
track (the IRL doesn't race on tracks shorter than one mile), and
anything longer than 1 mile is considered a superspeedway.
Overall Diameter: The diameter of the inflated tire, without
Overall Width: The distance between the outside of the two
sidewalls, including lettering and designs. Also known as section
Overflow: Usually refers to the line from the radiator cap's
relief valve. On a passenger car, this goes to a catch bottle, but
on a racecar, it is usually allowed to vent. Some Stock cars bring
the vent line out from under the hood cowl, so that escaping steam
or water is visible to the driver on the windshield. Some series
regulate where the overflow vents.
Overhead Cam: An engine having the camshafts positioned atop
the cylinder heads, as opposed to a pushrod engine (see). These fall
into two classes: Dual-overhead- cam (DOHC) designs have two
camshafts over each bank of cylinders; generally one cam operates
the intake valves, and the other the exhaust valves.
Overhead Valve: An engine having the valves in the cylinder
head, above the top of the piston. In the early days of
internal-combustion engines, most engines were "flathead"
engines, where the cylinder head was simply a flat plate (with holes
drilled for the spark plugs), and the valves were openings in the
side of the cylinder. Today, all automobile engines are
overhead-valve. The term "overhead valve" is not to be
confused with overhead cam.
Oversteer: A handling condition (known as "loose")
where, when the car goes through a corner, the rear end of the car
wants to slide towards the outside of the turn. If the car gets
loose enough, it will spin out. Oversteer is the opposite of push
Back to top
Pace Car: A car, which comes onto the
track, in front of the race leader, and leads the field whenever a
caution flag is in effect. The pace car has two important functions:
setting the permissible speed during yellow flag periods, and
gradually bringing the field up to speed at the race start and
during a restart. In most cases, the pace car also runs at pit road
speed so teams can determine what gear and rpm produce that speed.
Pace Lap: A lap just before the start of a race, where the
pace car gradually brings the field up to racing speed. The purpose
of the pace lap is to prevent big discrepancies in speed between
different cars from developing; having all cars start the race at
nearly the same speed makes the start much safer. May
also refer to laps run before the official start of the race to warm
engines and tires.
Pacer Light: At one time, Indy car racing had a rule, on oval
tracks that required cars to maintain their separation during a
caution period, rather than bunching up behind the pace car. The
pacer lights were a set of sequenced signal lights around the
periphery that was supposed to tell the drivers whether they were
maintaining pace or closing in.
Paddock: A road racer's term for what oval-track racers call
the garage area. Sometimes, however, the "paddock" does
not actually contain garages, but is simply an open area away from
the racing surface, where cars can be worked on.
Panhard Bar: In a rear suspension, a lateral bar that
prevents the axle from moving left or right. It is generally
attached to the end of the axle housing on the left, and to a frame
bracket on the right. Also called a track bar.
Parade Lap: The first lap taken by the field as the cars get
under way, before the start of the race. The parade lap is run at a
very slow speed. Its purpose is mainly ceremonial.
PASS : Pro All Star
PCDLMT: Pacific Coast Dirt Late Model Tour.
Penalty Box: A NASCAR term for the assessment of a five-lap
penalty, which is NASCAR's most stringent during-race penalty short
of disqualification. Imposed for severe infractions, such as
intentionally spinning or wrecking another car.
Penalty Spoiler: A spoiler, which is affixed by the officials
to a car to make it slower (as opposed to the usual purpose of a
spoiler). Penalty spoilers are sometimes used to equalize cars,
which have illegal bodywork, allowing them to compete without the
team having to rework all the illegal bodywork.
Photo Finish: Means the same thing that it does in horse
racing: a finish that is so close that a photograph, taken at the
moment of finish, must be examined in order to determine the winner.
(Recently, high-speed video camera systems have been replacing
photography for this purpose.)
Pick: Refers to when a car is trying to pass another car, the
car under attack may pass closely by a slower car, such that the
slower car is on the same side as the attacking car. The attacking
car then has to back off, and get in line with the lead car in order
to pass the slower car.
Pick Up: Debris built up on the tires consisting of rubber bits
Pilot Chute: In drag racing, a spring-loaded device that
pulls out the braking chutes from its pack.
Pinched: When a racecar squeezes another car into the inside
or outside wall.
Piston: A round metal cylinder, which is attached to the top
end of the connecting rod inside of the cylinder. The piston
compresses the air/fuel mixture on the upward motion, and is pushed
downward when the air - fuel mixture explodes. This downward motion
then drives the crankshaft.
Pit Board: (1) A signboard on the end of a long pole
that the pit crew uses as a flag to their driver, so that the driver
can find the proper pit, and to indicate, when executing a pit stop,
exactly where the driver should stop. (2) Back in the bad old days
before drivers had two-way radios, the pit board was a chalkboard
that the crew used to communicate with the driver. A crewmember
wrote messages on the pit board (such as lap times, running
position, or instructions on when to pit), took the board to the
inside wall or the edge of the pit lane, and held it up as the
driver passed by. Boards are used today when a driver's radio fails
or in classes where radios are not permitted.
Pit Box: A rectangle painted on the pit lane that shows
exactly the area where servicing is permitted for each team.
Pit Road/Pit Row/Pits: An area adjacent to the track surface
(generally in the infield) where cars are serviced. The name comes
from early days of racing in which the pits actually had holes or
pits dug in the ground so the crew could work on the underside of
Pit Stall: A rectangle painted on the pit lane that shows
exactly the area where servicing is permitted for each team.
Planetary Transmission: A transmission in which the various
gears revolve around one another. Consists of a sun gear, carrier
with planet gears, and ring gears. Also known as overdrive or
Plate: (1) A Restrictor Plate: A device used to control power
at tracks where the cars would otherwise be too fast for safety or
insurance reasons. The plate is a machined slab of aluminum, about
1/20" thick, with four holes of a specific size. The plate goes
in between the carburetor and intake manifold, and restricts the
volume of fuel-air mix that may pass through. Use of restrictor
plates has forced the development of a different class of engines,
known as plate engines. (2) A Surface Plate: A large flat metal
surface used as a dimensionally stable and level platform for the
construction or alignment of a chassis.
Plate Engine: An engine designed to run with a restrictor plate.
Plowing: When the car is pushing up the track in the turns.
Plug Check: During a practice or a qualifying session, if a
driver shuts off the engine while at full power and then coasts into
the pits, it is generally so that the crew can perform a plug check.
The spark plugs are removed and the electrodes and insulator
examined; the condition of these components (and particularly the
color of the insulator) can reveal much about how the engine is
performing. Running the engine at idle leaves deposits on the plugs
that interfere with the plug check, and that is why the driver must
shut off the engine while at full power, press in the clutch, and
then coast in to the pits in order for a plug check to be done.
Plus-Sizing: An option allowing drivers to customize their
vehicle by mounting low-profile tires on wider rims of one or two
inches greater diameter, usually enhancing vehicle appearance,
handling and performance.
Ply: A rubber-coated layer of fabric containing cords that
run parallel to each other; extends from bead to bead.
P-Metric: Designation of tires built to DOT regulations.
"P" indicates Passenger vehicle. Metric refers to the
nomenclature and labeling requirements. Uniform designation
of tire sizes, in metric measurements originally introduced by
American tire manufacturers in 1977; commonly called "P-metric
series." A typical P-metric tire is P205/70R14 93S.
Pneumatic: Refers to a device or tool that uses air for support
Pneumatic Tire: A tire designed to use air for it support.
Points: A points system rewards drivers with points based on
where they finish in a race, and may contain opportunities for
earning bonus points by doing things like winning the pole position
or leading a lap. At the end of the season, there is often a large
cash award for the point's champion and perhaps other privileges
such as first choice of pit positions all next season. The main
objects of a points system are to discourage teams from skipping
races, and to build up sustained fan interest over the course of a
season. Many series have additional points systems for rewarding car
owners, chassis/engine suppliers, etc.
Pole: The first starting position in a race; the inside of
the front row.
Pole Sitter: The car
occupying the first position in a race or the fastest qualifier for
a race. Note that, due to qualifying procedures, the pole sitter may
not always start from the first position due to inversion. In many
racing series, the pole sitter has the option of starting on
either the inside or outside of the front row.
Polish Victory Lap: An extra lap, run by the winner of a
race, around the track in the reverse direction, and usually
completed with a 180-degree spin at the start-finish line. The
Polish victory lap was a creation of the late Winston Cup champion
Alan Kulwicki, and several other drivers continue to do it in his
Polymer: A long-chained molecule such as rubber. On a molecular
level appearing like a bunch of interlocking spaghetti.
Pop-Off Valve: A mechanism used by CART to limit engine power
in its turbocharged Indy cars. It is a valve that limits the
pressure boost that the turbocharger can produce. If the boost
pressure exceeds the pop-off valve's setting, the valve opens and
vents the pressure, causing the engine to lose power. Also called a
Porpoising: An undesirable condition in which the racecar is
bouncing up and down due to improper setup.
Port: The opening in an engine where the valve operates and
through which the air-fuel mixture or exhaust passes.
Post Entry: A race team that enters a race after the race's
official entry deadline has passed. Most sanctioning bodies will
allow post entries to participate in a race, but will penalize it
for the late entry monetarily or by not awarding it championship
points for that race. When the abbreviation "PE" appears
in a race box score in place of a car's points, it means that the
car received no points because it was a post entry.
Powder Puff: A name used, back in the chauvinistic '60s, for
a race or racing division where all the competitors were women. At
many tracks, powder-puff races often consisted of wives of drivers
or car owners in a very short race, using their husbands' cars.
POWER: Prototype Open Wheel Economy Racing Series.
Power Plant: Commonly used term for engines.
PPI: Pounds per inch. A rating used in suspension parts such
as shocks and springs. Used to measure the amount of weight that
needs to be applied to attain 1 inch of travel.
Pre-Staged Light Beam: Light beam used to warn drivers they
are inches away from starting line. This beam when broken by front
wheels sets off pre-staged bulb on top of the Christmas tree.
Primary Sponsor: The sponsor that puts up the bulk of the
sponsorship money for a race team, and consequently gets the most
exposure on the car.
PRL: Provincial Racing League
Professional: A participant who makes his or her living off
of racing. Unlike some sports, in auto racing there is no
controlling body determining who is entitled to amateur or pro
status, although some sanctioning
bodies do require drivers to meet qualifications before they will be
allowed to participate at certain tracks.
Profile: Used to describe
the shape of a tire.
Progressive Spring: A spring that needs an increasing amount
of force to increase deflection. For example, 1-inch of deflection
for the first 200 pounds but the 2nd inch of deflection
needs 500 pounds instead of 400. See Linear spring.
Promoter: Someone who organizes a race, puts up the purse,
gets race sponsors, handles advertising and ticket sales, and
assumes the financial risk of putting on the race. The promoter
might be a track owner, the owner of rights to a series, or an
Promoter's Option: The traditional prerogative of the
promoter, as the person who organizes a race, of designating one or
more cars to start a race even though they failed to qualify.
Promoters often reserved an option for themselves, so that they
could be guaranteed that a popular driver would participate in the
race. Some sanctioning bodies have discontinued the use of
promoter's options in all of its touring series, and replaced them
with the provisional start system.
highly modified streetcar. Pro-street cars generally feature large
engines, blowers, narrow rear ends, and tubbed fenders. Older muscle
cars like the Camaro and Chevelle are popular.
Protest: A complaint filed
with officials, generally used to check for illegal components,
scoring errors, or inappropriate driving techniques. Often, a fee is
charged to file a protest, with the money returned if the competitor
is found in violation.
Pro-Tree: The method of starting cars from starting line,
using the Christmas tree. Method used is all three yellow bulbs
light then green as opposed to one yellow light at a time then green
(full tree). Also uses a reaction time of .400.
Provisional Start: A
system used by many touring series that provides extra starting
spots in the main event for teams that participate in a series on a
regular basis. Provisionals are generally based on point standings,
earnings, or past championship victories.
PSI: Pounds per Square Inch, a measurement of air pressure.
Pucker Factor: A high level of fear over an incident or
difficult racing situation.
Pump Gas: Street-legal gasoline that can be purchased by the
public. Used to distinguish from racing gasoline at many weekly
racing tracks, the lower divisions are required to use pump gas
(which has a relatively low octane rating compared to racing gas) as
a way of limiting engine power and thus containing costs.
Punt: To bump someone from behind, usually causing a spin.
Purging: Process of removing air from a tire and replacing it
with drier air, nitrogen, or another gas in order to lower humidity
in a tire. This may be repeated several times in order to achieve
even lower humidity.
Purse: The total prize money to be awarded to the race
participants by the promoter. See also contingency awards.
Push: 1) A handling condition where the front wheels tend to
slide when turning into a corner, which makes the car want to keep
going straight. "Pushing like a dump truck" Push is the
opposite of loose. Sometimes
referred to as understeer. 2) Push starting a vehicle that will not,
or does not have the capacity, to start on it's own. Sprint cars
require a "Push" start.
Pushrod: 1) Engine: A rod that carries force from the
camshaft of a pushrod engine, to a rocker arm (which transmits the
force to the valve). The term also refers to engine designs that use
pushrods. Such engines generally have a single cam, which on a
V-shape engine is located in the "valley" between the
cylinder banks. The pushrod valve train has more reciprocating mass
than an overhead-cam design due to the long pushrods, and so usually
cannot tolerate as high an RPM as an overhead-cam design. 2)
Suspension: A link that connects the lower control arm to the
Pyrometer: In general, a heat-measuring device. The most
common racing use is the tire pyrometer, which is used to measure
surface temperatures of different areas on a tire and
assist in chassis setup. Other common pyrometers include those
designed to measure the temperatures of track surfaces, brake
rotors, and exhaust headers.
Back to top
QMA: Quarter Midgets of America.
Quad: Refers to a four-wheel all terrain vehicles.
Quad Oval: A tri-oval variant, which has two doglegs in the
front straight instead of one, which increases the number of seats,
which are directly in line with some part of the front straight.
Charlotte and Texas are examples. (Atlanta, originally a
conventional oval, was reconfigured to a quad-oval in 1997.)
act of running a timed lap to earn a starting position in a race. In
nearly all forms of oval track racing, qualifying consists of one
car at a time running one or more laps to try to record the fastest
time, for the best starting position. In road racing, groups, or
flights, of cars are sent onto the track and their specific lap
times are recorded as qualification times. In drag racing, cars are
given individual qualification runs, often called "time
runs," to prepare for the elimination rounds. In classes such
as Super Stock and Comp, these qualification runs set elimination
brackets. Finishing positions from heat race events can also be
classified as "qualifying."
Qualifying Trim: Special setup used during qualifying whose
purpose is to make the car go as absolutely fast as possible for
only one or two laps.
Quarter Midget: A miniature version of a Midget. Quarter
midgets are very small single-seaters, similar in proportions to a
kart, but with full bodywork and a sprung suspension. Most also have
some type of roll cage.
Quarter Panel: The sheet metal on both sides of the car from
the C-post to the rear bumper below the deck lid and above the wheel
Quick-Change: A type of rear end gear, which is designed so
that the final drive ratio can quickly be changed without removing
the rear end from the car.
Back to top
Race Rubber: Tires used just for the
race as opposed to qualifying.
Race Safe System: A warning system that alerts a driver of a
caution. Usually by an in car indicator light activated by a Race
Racing Back to the Flag: When a caution or Yellow flag condition
occurs and cars race to cross the finish line in order to better
their restart position.
Racing Gasoline: Gasoline designed specifically for racing
engines. Racing gas usually has very high octane.
Radial Ply Tire: A type of tire that's constructed with the
reinforcing belts sideways (bead to bead) under the tread rather
than lengthwise. The cords in the body of a radial tire run at or
near 90-degree angles to the centerline of the tread. The
combination of stabilizing belts and the radial casing allows the
tread and sidewall to act independently. The sidewall flexes easily
under load and greater vertical deflection is achieved with radial
tires. When negotiating curves and encountering side forces, the
independent action of the tread and sidewalls keeps the tread flat
on the road. This allows the tire to hold to its path. This results
in better overall handling compared to a bias tire. Radials also run
cooler than a bias ply tire because there is less friction between
the plies inside the tire. But radials tend to demand a much more
precise line around each track, whereas bias-ply tires are more
forgiving. This is related to the slip angle that each design needs
for maximum grip. Radial tires work best at 1-2 degrees of slip and
need 2-3 degrees of camber. For the driver this translates into a
bigger window of feedback to feel the tire working. The other
related factor is the drop off in grip that occurs if the tire is
pushed beyond the optimum. For
bias ply tires, this tends to be a smooth transition that can be
corrected, while with radial tires, the transition can be quite
abrupt causing the car to loose control all at once. Radials are
much more expensive to produce compared to bias tires.
Radius: 1/2 the diameter of a round object. The measurement
from the center of an object extending to the outer surface.
Rain Tires/Rains: Tires used during wet conditions. Usually
grooved to channel water away from the center of the tire in order
to have a good contact patch. Also referred to as wets.
Rake: Term used to describe
the angle of the chassis compared to the ground.
Ratchet Rear End: A rear end gear that locks under
acceleration, and unlocks when the driver lets off the throttle.
Commonly used in oval-track racing, where it provides the
straight-line acceleration of a locked rear end, without the
RCCA: Race Car Club of America. Sanctions Formula racing events
in the United States.
Reaction Time: In drag
racing, this is the time elapsed before your front tires leave the
staging beams after the green light is illuminated. Generally
computed in thousandths of a second. .400 (pro-tree) and .500 (full
tree) are perfect reaction times.
Rear Clip: The section of a race car that begins at the base
of the rear windshield and extends to the rear bumper. Contains the
car's fuel cell and rear-suspension components.
Rear End: Racer's term for the differential, the set of gears
that transfers power from the driveshaft to the rear wheels. Racing
rear ends may be locked. Stock cars usually require cooling fans or
radiators to dissipate the heat that builds up due to losses that
always occur when gears mesh at an angle.
Rectangular Track: A variant of an oval track that has the
two numbered turns at each end of the track (which, in a normal
oval, are combined into 180-degree corners) separated by
"chutes", short lengths of straightaway. From the air, the
track has the appearance of a rectangle with its corners rounded
off. Indianapolis is the best-known example.
Red Flag: Race halted; all cars must drive slowly around to
the start-finish line (or some other point designated by the
officials) and then stop. Used when the track is blocked, or needs
repair, or when weather conditions make it unsafe to continue even
at caution speed. (In some series, a red flag comes out whenever a
car rolls or flips, or other sufficiently serious accident occurs,
so that emergency crews can get to the scene faster.) In most stock
car racing series, all servicing of cars is prohibited while a red
flag is in effect. However, in Indy car racing, servicing during a
red flag is permitted.
Red with Yellow "X" Flag: Indicates that the pits
are closed. When a caution occurs, the pits are closed until the
pace car has entered the track and the field is formed up behind
it). An official positioned at the pit entrance holds this flag. Any
car that passes this flag and enters the pits is subject to a
penalty. Some other series use a similar flag to indicate that there
is an emergency vehicle on the track.
Redline: Usually, the maximum RPM that an engine can be
safely operated at; indicated by a red pointer or painted line on
the tachometer. Many modern racing engines have a rev limiter that
will momentarily cut off the ignition to prevent the redline from
Relief Driver: A driver who, during a race, takes over a car
for another driver who is physically unable to continue (due to
factors such as illness, dehydration, or previous injury).
Rental Ride: When a team or driver pays a car owner for use of a
team and/or car for an event.
Repeatability: A tires ability to be used many times.
Reset Fuel: Indy cars do not have fuel quantity gauges. Since
Indy cars are equipped with engine computers, they have devised a
method for estimating the amount of fuel remaining: by placing a
flow meter in the fuel line, and having the computer integrate the
flow over time, the computer can figure how much fuel has been used
and subtract from the capacity of the tank to compute the amount of
fuel remaining. The problem is, the computer has no way of sensing
when the car is refueled, so the driver has a button on the dash or
the steering wheel which must be pressed during a pit stop to inform
the computer that the tank has been filled.
Restart: The term for the resumption of a race after a
Restrictor Plate: A device used to control power at tracks
where the cars would otherwise be too fast for safety or insurance
reasons. The plate is a machined slab of aluminum, about 1/20"
thick, with four holes of a specific size. The plate goes in between
the carburetor and intake manifold, and restricts the volume of
fuel-air mix that may pass through. Use of restrictor plates has
forced the development of a different class of engines, known as
Retaining Walls: Barriers lining the inside and outside of a
racing surface used to contain cars and debris from the spectators.
Retire: As used in racing, to drop out of a race due to
mechanical difficulties or irreparable damage. Also used, however,
in the conventional sense, as in to retire from the sport.
Return Road: In drag racing, a road which leads from shutdown
area back to the pits or staging lanes. Often,
return roads are placed between the drag strip and the grandstands,
allowing spectators to view the cars better and to reward great runs
with rounds of applause.
Rev Limiter: A device that limits the maximum RPM that an
engine can reach, usually by momentarily cutting out the ignition
when the set limit is reached. The rev limiter (often a standard
feature of modern racing electronic-ignition units) can be set to
prevent the engine from exceeding its redline. Some sanctioning
bodies have limits on maximum allowable engine RPM (as a
power-limiting tactic), and use rev limiters to enforce these
Reverse Cooling: A method of routing engine coolant to reduce
differences in temperature between different parts of the head in
block. A conventional cooling system has coolant from the radiator
flowing into the block's water jacket, where it flows upwards
towards the tops of the cylinders, from there into the head, and
then finally into passages in the intake manifold which routes it
back to the radiator. Reverse cooling, pioneered by Smokey Yunick,
routes the cool water from the radiator directly into the cylinder
heads, and particularly to the areas around the exhaust valves
first, and from there downward through the block and then back to
the radiator. This reduces temperatures around the exhaust valves
(normally the hottest area in the engine), which in turn reduces
pre-ignition and makes it possible to run higher compression ratios
with the same fuel octane.
Rib Tire: A tire produced from the factory with only the
circumferential grooves molded into the tread. Generally, rib tires
are grooved by hand to match the track conditions.
Ride Height: The distance between the car's frame rails and
Riding the Rails: Used to describe a car or driver that is
driving in the outer most portion of the track.
Rim: A wheel, technically, a metal support for a tubeless
tire or a tire and tube assembly upon which the tire beads are
Rim Protector: Portion or extension of the sidewall of the
tire that prevent rim damage during contact.
Rim Width: Distance between the two opposite inside edges of
the rim flanges.
Road Course: A closed-circuit racecourse containing both
left- and right-hand turns, and designed to approximate the
experience of driving on open roads. Road courses may be built to
run either clockwise or counterclockwise; they often contain changes
in elevation or off-camber turns. By definition, road courses are
paved. (Non-paved, non-oval circuits are termed "off-road"
and fall into an entirely different class of racing.)
Roadster: (1) A general name for a single-seat or two-seat
sports car. (2) In drag racing, a
general description of a drag racing vehicle featuring an open
cockpit, tubular frame, offset driving position, and cut down body
from a passenger vehicle. Unlike an "altered", roadster
body styles were originally American production cars including Ford
and Chevrolet models. (3) In Indy car racing, the name used
for the small, light front-engine cars that raced at Indy from about
1950 to 1965.
Rollback: A flatbed truck equipped with a winch, used to
retrieve cars that have been so badly wrecked that they can't be
Roll Bar/Roll Cage: The steel tubing inside the racecar's
interior. A U- or V-shaped bar that protrudes from the top deck of
an open-cockpit car, higher than the driver's head, such that if the
car rolls, the car's weight will land on the bar instead of the
Roll Center: The theoretical point where suspension
components intersect. This defines the point of rotation for the
"lean' or "roll' when cornering. In practice, this
point changes as the suspension moves up and down. For racecar
design it is used in connection with the center of gravity to
predict and control weight transfer in the corners.
Roll Couple: Refers to the percentage of how much resistance
to body roll is distributed between the front and the rear
Rolling Resistance: The measured drag create by a driving
surface, the tire, drive train parts, or a combination of all. The
lower the rolling resistance, the less energy needed to keep a
Rollout: The circumference of an inflated tire. The measured
distance a tire will cover in one revolution.
Roof: Panel over the top of the driver's compartment.
Roof Flaps: A set of trap doors in the roof of a stock car.
The roofs of these cars, since they are usually shaped somewhat in
profile like an airplane wing, tend to generate lift when the car
gets sideways, and on a superspeedway, this lift can be strong
enough to actually fly the car off the track surface. The roof flaps
are designed to open under these circumstances and kill the lift,
both by venting air pressure inside the cockpit, and by breaking up
the airflow over the top of the roof. (Usually, when roof flaps are
installed, there are also small flaps in the windshield cowl.)
Developed by legendary car owner and Ford consultant, Jack Roush.
Roof Net: webbing, similar to a window net that covers the
opening in the top of the roll cage. Its function is to keep the
driver's arms in the car in case the roof sheet metal gets torn off
the car in a roll or flip. Invented by Robert Yates and Davey
Roof Strips: Strips of metal that run lengthwise on the roof
of a stock car. These are designed to disrupt the airflow over the
car if it becomes sideways. This kills the lift created and keeps
the car from becoming airborne.
Rookie: In general, a driver who is inexperienced in the type
of cars he/she is currently running. In most series a rookie is
required to put a yellow stripe on the back of their car to notify
Roller: A complete racecar minus an engine.
Rotating Mass: Somewhat misleading term for the combined
angular momentum/inertia of all of a car's rotating propulsion parts
such as the crankshaft, flywheel, and drive shaft. Engine and car
designers have recently come to understand that high angular inertia
has an effect on a car's ability to accelerate, and so reducing this
has become a major preoccupation of designer. (Angular inertia is a
function of both the mass of the rotating part, and by how far away
the concentration of the mass is from the axis of rotation.)
Rotation: The changing of tires from front to rear or from
side-to-side on a vehicle according to a set pattern; provides even
Rotor: The disc portion of the brakes.
Round: When all cars in a bracket or class have made a run,
usually, an elimination run.
Rounds: The number of revolutions a wrench, nut, or bolt is
turned. One and a half rounds are one and half revolutions.
Rounds of Wedge: Adjusting the handling by changing the pressure
of the rear springs. A wrench is inserted in a jack bolt
attached to the springs, then turned “round” a number of times.
This is used to tighten or loosen the amount of play in the spring.
This directly changes the cross weight in a chassis setup. This in
turn can loosen or tighten up the handling of a racecar.
Roundy Round: Phrase used to describe a circular or oval track.
Roval: Slang term that combines the two words Road (course) and
Oval. Describes an oval track such as Daytona or Homestead that has
a road course in the infield. Events such as the Daytona 24 hour
race use the road course as well as a large portion of the oval
RPM: Revolutions Per Minute.
Rub: Light contact between two cars or two parts.
The blend of rubber and other chemical and natural components that
form the surface of a tire. Race tire rubber is not purely natural
rubber, but a blend of natural and synthetic rubbers with chemicals
and oils. 2) A semicircular wedge of rubber that is inserted
between the turns of a coil spring to increase the spring's rate.
Spring rubbers are often inserted into a spring prior to a race,
when the team suspects that they will have to make a large handling
adjustment during the race. If needed, the rubber can be quickly
pulled out during a pit stop, for a larger change in handling than
is possible by adjusting wedge or tire pressure.
Rubbing: Minor contact between cars. “Rubbing is Racing” is
a phase used to describe the regularity of rubbing.
Run Under: In Drag racing, when your elapsed time is quicker
than your dial-in, this causes you to be disqualified.
Running at Finish: A statistical classification; the opposite
of DNF. A car is classified as having been running at the finish of
a race if it crosses under the checkered flag. Note that this does
not represent how many laps the car may have lost during the race.
Running Light: A car that is low of fuel.
Running the Double: Recent term for competing in the
Indianapolis 500, and the Coca-Cola World 600 at Charlotte, in the
Back to top
SAE: Society of Automotive Engineers.
The professional association of transportation industry engineers
that set standards for testing, measuring, and designing automobiles
and its components.
Safety Bead: A hump that is present on the mounting flange of a
wheel. This prevents the tire from unseating when air pressure is
Safety Lap: An extra lap or laps run at racing speed after
taking the checkered flag.
Safety Liner/Shield: Same as an inner liner. A safety device for
racing tires. An inner liner is a sort of tire-within-a-tire; it has
its own air containment and its own valve stem separate from the
main carcass of the tire. The inner liner is inflated to a pressure
higher (usually 12-15 psi) than the main carcass. Inner liners are
not suitable for racing on, but they are good enough to allow the
driver, in the event of a blown or flat tire, to retain control long
enough to get the car slowed down and get to the pits without
wrecking. The modern inner liner tire was introduced to racing via
Winston Cup in 1965.
Saloon Cars: A British term for Stock cars or sedans.
Sanctioning Body: An organization that sets and enforces the
rules for a race or racing class or series.
Sandbagging: Deliberately running slower than the car is
capable of, particularly in practice or the early stages of a race
in order to surprise the competition in the race.
SARA : Southern Auto
SAS : Southern All Star
Racing Series or Sprint Asphalt Series.
SATCAR: Sports And Touring Car Racing.
Sawing On The Wheel: Expression describing when a driver turns
the steering wheel back and forth in a rapid manner.
SBRA: Southern Bracket Racing Association.
SCCA: Sports Car Club of America, a body that sanctions a
variety of road racing activities. The SCCA focuses mainly on sports
car racing, and most of the SCCA's series and divisions are amateur
or semi-pro, but its Trans Am series is a highly regarded pro series
for (road racing) Stock cars. In addition to road racing, SCCA also
sanctions hill climbs, rally, and Solo events.
SCCS: Stock Car Championship Series.
SCDCA: Southern California Dwarf Car Association.
SCOA: Sprint Car Owners of Arizona.
Scoring Line: A line on the track, where a car's scorer
registers the car as having completed a lap when the car crosses
that line. At larger tracks, the scoring line (or lines) is often
not the start-finish line and vice versa.
Scotch: Refers to good side bite or tire grip in the middle
of a turn.
SCRA: Sprint Car Racing Association. Sanctions non-winged
Sprint car racing events in the United States.
Scrub: When a tire does not rotate in the same direction or with
the same speed as the car moves, it scrubs over the surface. This is
sometimes done intentionally to heat, clean, and/or harden tires.
Scuffs: In general, any tire that has been used, but usually
refers specifically to tires that have been run for a few laps,
removed from the car, allowed to cool, and then put aside for later
use. Scuffing changes the physical characteristics of the rubber,
generally making it more durable. Under some circumstances, scuffed
tires are faster than sticker tires.
Seat Time: Used to describe time spent in a racecar.
Section Height: The distance between to bead diameter and the
outer diameter of the tire. This dimension is usually represented as
a percentage of the tread width.
Section Width: The width of the tire at the widest point when
mounted on the correct rim. This is typically located somewhere
about the midpoint of the sidewall.
Seize: When an engine locks up due to mechanical failure.
This may result from overheating or a part breaking.
Self-Cleaning: Said of high-banked tracks, where wrecked cars
and debris tend to slide off of the corners into the infield.
Drivers at such a track have to be careful when approaching a spin
or wreck in progress, since the out-of-control car will eventually
slide off the track to the apron or inside edge, and trying to duck
under that car on the inside can be disastrous.
Self-Starting: An engine equipped with an onboard starter, as
opposed to using an external starter, which is attached to the
engine to start it, and then removed (or simply pushing the car to
start it). Most forms of Stock car racing require self-starters
while Indy cars use external starters. Pushing usually starts sprint
and Midget cars, and tracks that host these classes usually have
"push trucks" for the purpose.
SEML: Small Engine Motorsports League.
Sequential Shift: A type of semi-automatic transmission where
the driver can select the next highest or lowest gear by just moving
a lever or pressing a button. Some sequential-shift gearboxes are
purely mechanical, but in others actual movement of the gears, as
well as operation of the clutch, is controlled electrically.
Commonly used in CART, Pro-class drag racing, and some road racing.
Series: (1) Tires with the same aspect ratio, or relationship
of height to width inside the tire. (2) Common
description used for the races sanctioned by a specific organization
Setup (chassis): The configuration of the chassis in order to
achieve the desired handling. Generally this consists of a selection
of springs, shocks, and other suspension components with the needed
force and damping characteristics, plus adjustments like camber,
caster, toe, wedge, and stagger. For open wheel cars, this may also
include wing angles and Gurney flap selection.
Shake Down: Testing a brand-new car or engine.
Shaving: A process of removing tread. It has been shown that a
tire with a thinner slick tire performs better than a thicker
Sheet Time: Time spent in a hospital, or otherwise
rehabilitating from an injury.
Shift Points: The best engine r.p.m. at which to shift gears.
Some production and racecars have lights to indicate when a driver
should shift gears.
Shimmy: Wobbling of wheels from side-to-side on a vehicle.
Shimmying can be caused by a variety of factors, including
improperly balanced tires, poor alignment and bent wheels.
Shock: Component designed to control the up and down movement
of the suspension caused by weight transfer as well as changes in
the road or track surface. A shock controls the speed at which the
spring moves. Shocks are rated in pounds per inch (ppi) or how many
pounds it takes to compress the shock 1 inch. The lower the rated
ppi, the softer the spring and the higher the rated ppi, the stiffer
the spring. Shocks are numbered for both compression and rebound.
The compression of a shock is when it is being pressed down. The
rebound is when it is being pulled back up. Shocks do not control
the amount of weight transfer in a corner. They will however control
how quickly the weight is transferred.
Shoe: Term used to refer to a racecar driver.
Shoes: Slang term for tires.
Shoe Up/Change the Shoes: Slang term for changing the tires.
Shoot Out: Two or more driver's that are racing for the
Short Block: Refers to a stage of assembly of an engine (and
the state of assembly that engines might be sold in). Engine
assembly ranges from "bare block", which is just an engine
block with no moving parts, to "short block", which is a
block with crankshaft, rods, and pistons (but no cylinder heads or
valve train), to "long block", which is a complete engine
less carburetor, manifolds, ignition, and accessories.
Short Track: An oval track usually less than 1 mile in
length. It is characterized by close, physically challenging
competition, frequent contact between cars, and usually short races.
The short straights and relatively slow lap speeds make handling and
driver ability more important than engine horsepower.
Shoulder: The area of a tire where the tread and sidewall
Showroom Stock: A racing series where new production cars are
raced with very few or no modifications. Currently, this
classification is limited mostly to road racing and Solo II events.
Shunt: British term for a collision.
Shutdown Area: In drag racing, the area located after finish
line for racing cars to slowdown.
Shut the Gate: Slang term for blocking another car from passing.
Side Bite: A
general term used to describe the amount of force available to hold
the car in the apex of a corner. In car setup, putting more side
bite in usually refers to reducing the sliding motion of a car in
Side Pod: The part of the body of an Indy car that extends
into the space between the front and rear wheels. In a modern Indy
car (since about 1972) design, the sidepods contain the engine's
radiator and oil cooler; the sidepods contain tunnels that control
the air entering the radiators for minimum drag, and funnel the
exhaust air away from the wheels.
Sidewall: That portion of a tire between the tread and the
Silly Season: Slang for the period during the latter part of
the current season, wherein some teams announce driver, crew, and/or
sponsor changes for the following year.
Silver Crown: A type of car defined by USAC, and the USAC
series that runs these cars. Silver Crown cars follow basic Sprint
car design except they're longer, heavier, and slower. Silver Crown
is sort of the successor to the old front-engine Championship
roadster cars that used to run Indy until the rear-engine cars took
over in the '60s. Silver Crown cars are raced on ovals, about half
paved and half dirt.
SIMS: Southern Independent Modified Series.
Sipes: Special slits within a tread that can increase
traction. Most often used in dirt track applications.
Sipping: A term used when a tool with a very narrow blade is
used to alter the tread pattern of a tire. When using this tool it
will create a slice in the tread surface. This process is used to
help a tire take off better on starts and to also help with heat
dispersion during a race.
Size: The combination of tire width, construction type,
aspect ratio and rim size used in differentiating tires. May also
refer to the circumference of a tire when inflated to race pressure.
Skid: To slip or slide on the road when tires lose their
Slicks: Racing tires having no tread design, in order to get
the maximum amount of rubber in contact with the pavement.
Slick Track: A track that has become slippery due to weather or
a liquid spill.
Slide Job: A passing technique seen at dirt tracks. It
involves diving into the bottom of a corner, under the car to be
passed, at a speed far too high to maintain that line. As soon as
the passer is clear of the car being passed, he allows the car to
drift up the track in front of the car being passed and then slows
to regain control. The car being passed is forced to slow down to
avoid hitting the passing car. This technique is considered
underhanded, and some series have tried to regulate it, with little
Slideways: Slang term that combines the words sliding and
sideways. Means doing a combination of both.
Slingshot: When a trailing car is able to draft and attain a
higher speed, allowing it to run up on the leading car and pass.
Slip: Elastic deformations of a tire during acceleration and
cornering. These deformations affect the contact patch and
ultimately the amount of grip.
Slip Angle: The angle between the direction the tires
centerline are pointed and the direction the tires are actually
Slipstream: The cavity of low-pressure area created by a
moving object. In racing, drivers use this slipstream to draft
Small Block: Usually refers to a small-block Chevy engine.
This is by far the most commonly used engine in all forms of Stock
car racing. Introduced in 1955, this engine design is probably the
longest-lived internal-combustion engine design ever. A small-block
Chevy is easy to spot by looking at its exhaust manifold; the two
center cylinders have their exhaust valves (and hence the manifold
runners) right next to each other, rather than regularly spaced as
in the Chevy big-block and most Ford and Chrysler engines. See also
SMART: Southern Modified Auto Racing Teams.
SMRA: Southern Midget Racing Association.
Snaking: On a superspeedway, driving a meandering path down a
straight, in an attempt to cause following cars to get out of line
and lose the draft.
Snow Tire: Sometimes called winter tire; a special type of
tire with a tread and compound that gives better traction in snow;
identified by the M+S, M&S, or M/S on the sidewalls. All-season
tires must also include these designations on the sidewall.
SOD : Sprints On Dirt.
Soft Walls: A type of racetrack wall construction that uses
softer materials and spacer designs to absorb impact energy.
SOHC: Single overhead cam.
SORA: Sprint 100's Racing Association.
SOS : Southern Ontario
SOSS: Southern Outlaw Super Series.
Spec: A type of rule that specifies a legal and required part by
brand name or model, as opposed to a technical outline that leaves
the choice of parts and brands up to the individual teams. Spec
rules (tires are a common example) are often used by tracks to
contain costs and to make enforcement easier.
Speed Rating: An alphabetical code (A-Z) assigned to a tire
indicating the range of speeds at which the tire can carry a load
under specified service conditions.
Speed Trap: On a drag strip, the final 66 feet to the finish
line, known as the speed trap, where speed is recorded.
Speedway: A racetrack.
Speedy-Dry: A trade name for a granular mix of sand, cement,
and resin used to soak up spilled oil, water, etc., from a
racetrack. Has become the generic name in racing circles for any
material used to soak up a spill.
Spin and Win: A race in which a car spins during the race but
then ends up winning.
Splash-and-Go: A very short pit stop in which a small amount
of fuel is added to the car and no tires are changed. Often seen
near the end of a race, when a team calculates that they will be
just short of having enough fuel to finish the race.
Splice: The point at which a one-piece tread or other tire
components come together.
Split: 1) A measurement of
time over a fixed distance, usually less than an entire lap. Seen
mostly in road race and drag race timing. For example, the time it
takes a car to go from turn 2 to turn 6 on a 13-turn road course.
Can pinpoint places for improvement for the driver
Split Valve Shock: A shock with a different rated ppi for
compression and rebound.
Spoiler: An aerodynamic device used to increase downforce. On
a Stock car, there typically is a spoiler on the rear edge of the
deck lid, which produces downforce on the rear by causing air to
"pile up" against the deck lid. Front spoilers were once
similar, but now generally take the form of an "air dam"
which not only deflects air upward but also prevents air from
passing underneath the car, which produces downforce. The object is
to improve the car's cornering speed, at the expense of increased
drag. Minimum spoiler angles are required by most series.
Sponsor: A person or company who gives support money and/or
products to a series, driver and/or team in exchange for advertising
or some other benefit.
Spotter: Found in series where drivers are permitted to use
radios. A spotter is someone who sits in a high place (typically on
top of a grandstand roof) and watches their car, and the track ahead
of their car. The spotter advises the driver when there is a car to
their inside or outside, and when it is "clear" to pull
into a lower or higher lane. When an accident occurs ahead of their
car, the spotter warns the driver, and tells the driver which way to
go to avoid the accident.
Spring: Coil springs are located at each corner of the
chassis. The springs determine how much weight is transferred to
each corner of the car. The springs are mounted in such a way that
they can be adjusted up or down to change ride heights. Springs are
rated by how many pounds it takes to compress the spring 1".
The higher the rated spring the more weight it will take to compress
Spring Rate: Amount of force measured in pounds needed to
achieve a certain amount of deflection. Used in rating springs and
Spring Rubber: A semicircular wedge of rubber that is
inserted between the turns of a coil spring to increase the spring's
rate. Spring rubbers are often inserted into a spring prior to a
race, when the team suspects that they will have to make a large
handling adjustment during the race. If needed, the rubber can be
quickly pulled out during a pit stop, for a larger change in
handling than is possible by adjusting wedge or tire pressure.
Sprint: An open wheel style of cars similar to, but somewhat
larger than, Midgets. Engines are generally V-8, normally aspirated,
and injected. Sprints are run on both dirt and paved ovals. Sprint
cars are divided into two broad categories: winged and non-winged.
The two sanctioning bodies best known for Sprint car sanctioning are
USAC (non-winged) and World of Outlaws (winged). Economy classes of
sprint cars have recently gained popularity including restricted
engine classes like 305 and 360 sprints.
Spun Bearing: A type of engine failure. The main bearings
(that hold the crankshaft in place in the block), and the rod
bearings (that connect the rod to the crankshaft) consist of thin
semi-circular pieces of special metal alloys that contain the
rotating parts, and that the oiling system supplies with oil; a thin
film of oil develops and keeps the metal parts from touching. If the
film breaks down for some reason, the metal parts touch, and the
force can cause the metal shells to revolve in the mounting that is
supposed to hold them stationary. Usually, this leads to bearing
meltdown and seizure of the rotating parts.
Squat: The action and ability of a racecars rear end to stay
down in order to get good contact and grip.
Squirrelly: Used to describe an ill handling car, usually loose.
SRL: (1) Scale Racing League sanctions Mini cup, mini truck, and
slingshot racing. (2) Super Modified Racing League. Sanctions Super
SSMA: Sourthern States Midget Association.
Staged Light Beam: Light beam used to warn drivers they are on
the starting line ready to race. This beam when broken sets off
staged bulb on top of the Christmas tree. This beam also determines
Stagger: A difference in circumference between the left-side
and right side tires on a car. In a car with a locked rear end,
rear-tire stagger will make the car want to continuously turn in the
direction of the side with the smaller circumference tire.
Staging Director: A person who directs the flow of traffic
from the staging lanes to the race lanes.
In drag racing, lanes located behind the starting line area where
drivers line up and wait to make a run down the track. Usually, each
class is called to the track by their particular staging lane.
Standing Start: A type of race starting setup in which the
cars are lined up and started from a standstill instead of a rolling
STAR : Senior Tour
STARS: Battle of the Bluegrass Tour.
Start and Park: Term to describe a car that starts the race then
pulls into the garage after only one or a few green flag laps. This
is usually done for several reasons: to fill out the field to meet
the advertised car count, pick up prize money for a finish without
spending money on the whole race, or for an owner to have continuity
with a car number to acquire ABC points or awards.
Starter: (1) A device used to start an engine; a self-starter
or an external starter. (2) A truck used mainly to push-start race
cars commonly seen at Sprint and Midget races where the cars lack
any other starting mechanism. (3) A flagman.
Start-Finish Line: A line on the track where the race
officially begins and ends. The flagman's stand is usually at the
Static: Dimensions or descriptions that apply to an object
that is not in use or in motion.
Steering: Changing the direction of a vehicle or the components
used to do so.
Stick: The amount of tire grip present.
Stick-and-Ball: Race fans' derisive term for almost any sport
other than auto racing, but particularly the American "big
three" of baseball, football, and basketball. Hemingway once
said: "There are only three true sports: mountain climbing,
bullfighting, and auto racing. Everything else is just a game."
Sticker Tires: Tires that have never been run on a car, and
still have the manufacturer's sticker on them. The stickers can
easily be seen on the tires when a car equipped with sticker tires
leaves the pits. See also scuffs.
Stiction: Slang term for tire grip. Combination of the words
“stick” and “traction”.
Stock Cars: Cars based on the body and (sometimes) chassis of
mass-produced streetcars. Stock cars can range from
no-modifications-allowed Showroom Stock and Hobby/Bomber classes, to
the Winston Cup cars which run with stock body shapes and
stock-block engines, but are otherwise purpose-built racing cars.
Stock-Block Engine: The definition of this term is rather
vague. In most usage's, it generally refers to an engine that is
based on a production engine block design (specifically, that
certain essential measurements of the block such as the
cylinder-to-cylinder spacing or deck height are the same as on the
Stop-and-Go: A type of penalty, which calls for the driver to
drive the car to the pits, stops, and then immediately leaves again.
This penalty is usually imposed for moderate infractions, such as
going too fast in the pits, or passing improperly during a restart.
Stopping Short: A type of pit strategy which involves making
a pit stop prior to the time where tire wear or fuel depletion would
make it necessary. This strategy is often employed at tracks where
the average lap time is greater than the time required to make a pit
stop. If a caution period subsequently occurs before the competition
has made their pit stops, the car that stopped short will stay out
on the track, and thereby take the lead, when everyone else stops
under the caution. It may also be
used when significant speed differentials exist between new and used
tires. This allows for cars that may be slower on used tires to put
on fresh tires and enjoy the extra speed to regain track position.
Street Circuit/Course: A road course made up partly or wholly
of partitioned-off city streets. CART and many open-wheel formula
road-racing series run on street circuits. There is considerable
debate about the quality of racing that ensues; often the streets
are too rough for high-speed racing, and the necessary barriers
placed along the street edge can result in single file racing with
Stressed Member: Term used for a method of construction, seen
mainly in open wheel cars, where the engine, rather than being
supported by the chassis, is part of the chassis. On an IRL car, for
example, the tub ends behind the cockpit, and the engine bolts on to
a bulkhead there; the gearbox, rear suspension, and rear wheels hang
off of the engine with no further support from the chassis.
Stringing: A procedure for checking the toe of the front
wheels. Basically, it consists of running a string down the side of
the car; with the steering wheel pointed straight ahead, the
distance between the front edge of the wheel and the string, and the
rear edge of the wheel and the string, is then measured; the
difference between the two distances gives the toe angle. This is a
quick-and-dirty procedure, usually used for repairing crash damage
during a race; it is not accurate enough to be used for critical
Stroking: (1) Driving conservatively so as to preserve the
equipment and stay out of accidents. Drivers who do this
consistently are known as "strokers" and the term carries
some scorn, but sometimes stroking is necessary when a car is known
to have a problem that will prevent it from finishing if it is run
at full speed. See also sandbagging. (2) Changing the piston stroke
of an engine in order to increase or decrease its displacement,
effectively making it a larger or smaller engine. Changing the
crankshaft with one that has the rod journals farther from or closer
to the crank's rotation axis does this.
Submarining: A term for when the driver slides out from under
the lap belt in a high-speed frontal impact.
SUMA : Southern United
Supercharger: An air compressor, powered by the engine (via a
drive belt, gear, or shaft), which forces more air into the engine.
On most internal-combustion engines, the upper limit on power output
at a given compression ratio is determined by the amount of air that
can be forced into the engine (since about 15 parts of air are
required to burn 1 part of gasoline). A supercharger raises the air
pressure in the intake manifold, which makes it possible to shove in
more air through the intake valves. Supercharging is common in drag
racing, and is permitted in some series of Modifieds and
Supermodifieds. Sometimes called a "Blower" or a "Huffer".
Super Modifieds: An extreme form of Modifieds, rapidly
distinguished from them by the fact that Super Modifieds are
open-cockpit. Super-Modifieds use an offset big block engine that
produces 900 horsepower for an 1800-lb car.
Superspeedway: An oval track that is usually greater than 1.5
miles in length. Note that the IRL uses a different classification.
In IRL usage, a 1-mile track is a short track (the IRL doesn't race
on tracks shorter than one mile), and anything longer than 1 mile is
considered a superspeedway.
SUPR : Southern United
Surface Plate: A large flat metal surface used as a
dimensionally stable and level platform for the construction or
alignment of a chassis.
SVRA: Sports car Vintage Racing Association.
Sway Bar: See anti-roll bar. Bar used to resist or counteract
the rolling force of the car body through the turns.
Sweeper: A large sweeping corner on a road or street course.
Switchback: An "S" like track configuration
generally designed on a fast portion of a track to slow cars.
Switching Ignition: Changing from a primary to a backup
ignition unit. The driver can change from one unit to the other, in
a manner of a few seconds.
Back to top
Also referred to as a Tach. A gauge that measures
revolutions per minute.
Tacky: A track condition where the racing surface is slightly
wet and sticky.
Taking Rubber: A
dirt track term describing when a racetrack loses its moisture and
rubber from the tires begins to stick to the dirt surface, creating
an asphalt-like condition. Tires wear much quicker in these
situations and races are generally less interesting as only one lane
develops the necessary traction. Can also refer to an asphalt track
Taking the Air: When two cars are close together and the
lead car has less air being applied to its rear spoiler. This causes
the car to have less rear downforce, which causes it to be loose in
Talent: Used to describe
a driver’s ability. Could also describe announcers or on air
Tank Slapper: A violent
oscillation in the front end of a motorcycle. So violent that the
rider ends up repeatedly hitting or slapping the gas tank with
his/her legs or another body part. Can also be used in auto racing
to describe an accident in which a cars back end gets loose and
slaps the wall or another car.
TBARA: Tampa Bay Area Racing Association.
T-Bone: An accident where one car runs into another hitting
it at a 90-degree angle directly in the side.
T-Car: In Indy car racing refers to a backup car. Traditionally,
in Indy car racing each car that a team brings to a race has to have
its own entry filed (as opposed to the practice in NASCAR where one
entry covers a team's primary and backup car). So that each backup
car won't need its own car number, which would create chaos, the
backup car is allowed to bear the same number as the primary car,
but has a letter 'T' decal next to the number to indicate that it is
a backup car; hence the term T-car.
TDCA: Texas Dwarf Car Association.
Tear-Off: (1) A layer of clear plastic that covers the visor
on a full-face helmet. The tear-off is attached with a weak
adhesive, and has a tab so that the driver can rip it off and remove
it when it becomes dirty. Some tear-offs have several layers, each
with its own tab, so that the driver can tear them off one at a
time, as they get dirty. These are popular in all forms of dirt
track racing. (2) A large layer, similar to those described above,
which covers the entire outer surface of a windshield. It is torn
off by a pit crewmember during a pit stop.
Tech: Short for Technical Inspection, an area and/or process
in which Officials inspect vehicles for rule and regulation
Telemetry: A radio system that gathers data about the car's
performance from sensors, and passes that data directly to the pits
via radio, without any effort on the part of the driver.
Template: A metal, wood, or plastic cutout used to check the
body dimensions of a car. Often used for Stock cars, which usually
must conform to rules requiring them to maintain at least a
semblance of the body shape of a production car model. NASCAR
introduced templates in 1967.
Ten-Tenths: Slang term for running at the maximum.
Tenths: 1/10th of a second. Used in timing lap times. The first
digit to the right of the decimal point. Sometimes even broken down
to a half a tenth, which is equal to 5/100ths (five one hundredths)
of a second.
Tethers: steel cables which are attached to the car's wheel
hubs and assembly, as well as the hood and various pieces of sheet
metal, to prevent these parts from flying off the car during a high
Thousandths: 1/1000th of a second. Used in timing lap times. The
third digit to the right of the decimal point. Threshold Braking:
Braking hard, but below the point where the tires lock up and begin
Throttle: The plate(s) used to control the air/fuel delivery
system that controls the output of the engine. Also refers to the
gas pedal and all components that control acceleration.
Tight: A handling condition where the front wheels tend to
slide when turning into a corner, which makes the car want to keep
going straight. Also called push or understeer. Tight is the
opposite of loose and oversteer.
Time Runs/Time Trials: Also
referred to as “Qualifying”. The act of running a timed lap to
earn a starting position in a race. In nearly all forms of oval
track racing, this consists of one car at a time running one or more
laps to try to record the fastest time, for the best starting
position. In road racing, groups, or flights, of cars are sent onto
the track and their specific lap times are recorded as qualification
times. In drag racing, cars are given individual qualification runs,
often called "time runs," to prepare for the elimination
rounds. In classes such as Super Stock and Comp, these qualification
runs set elimination brackets. Finishing positions from heat race
events can also be classified as "qualifying."
TIN: Tire Identification Number. An alphanumeric code mark
located usually on the sidewall of a tire to identify a
manufacturing batch or date.
Tire: An assembly of rubber, chemicals, fabric and possibly
metal, designed to provide traction, cushion road shock and carry a
load under varying conditions.
Tire Designation: An alphanumeric code molded into the
sidewall of the tire that describes the tire's size, including
width, aspect ratio, rim diameter, load index and speed rating. Most
designations use the P-Metric system, although racing tires often
use non-DOT nomenclature.
Tire Placard: A metal or paper tag permanently affixed to a
highway vehicle, which indicates the appropriate tire size and
inflation pressures for the vehicle.
Tire Rub: When a tire is coming in contact with part of the car.
Tire Run: The amount of laps or
time run during the useful life of a set of tires.
Tire Rule: When a racing series mandates that competitors can
run only one "spec" or specified brand of tires. See
Tire Shake: A
drag racing phenomenon when a loss of traction and/or tire
distortion causes the tires to shake violently. Normally, the car
becomes out of control and the driver's vision is blurred from the
movement. See also back-pedaling.
Tire Softener: A solvent,
which is applied to the surface of tires, changes the chemical
characteristics of the tread rubber. Sanctioning bodies and most
weekly tracks have banned the use of tire softeners because they are
based on aromatic hydrocarbons (such as benzene or xylene), which
are toxic with repeated exposure. They may also cause damage to the
structure of the tire and increase the risk of failure.
Tire Stint: The amount of
laps or time run during the useful life of a set of tires.
Tire Wear: The loss of rubber from tire treads due to use.
Toe: (1) This is the area of the bead that describes the
point of termination of the bead. (2) One of the three major
suspension geometry adjustments. The angle of the wheels, relative
to the car's forward motion. With the steering wheel in the
straight-ahead position, if the wheels are pointed inward the wheels
are said to be "toed in"; the opposite condition is
Toe Steer: Changes in the direction of a wheel or wheels due to
deflection of suspension parts. Usually during cornering or driving
on an uneven surface.
Top End: (1) The parts of the engine above the cylinders,
including the cylinder heads and valves. Compare with bottom end.
(2) The part of an engine's RPM range near the redline.
Top End Power: The amount a car accelerates at high speeds or in
its highest gear.
Top Wing: An airfoil, used to generate down force to improve
handling characteristics and improve traction. It's size is normally
around 5' x 5'. This wing is generally mounted directly above the
TORA: Topless Outlaw Racing Association.
Torque Steer: The tendency of a car to steer a certain direction
when power is applied.
Torsion Bar: A rod in the suspension system that, when
twisted from a grip at one end, functions like a spring.
TQ: Abbreviation for "three-quarter" midget, a sort
of downsized Midget. TQ's are run at some tracks as a support
division to train drivers for Midgets and Sprint cars.
Track: A racing surface. Racetrack or racing facility.
Track Bar: In a Stock car rear suspension, a lateral bar that
prevents the axle from moving left or right. It is generally
attached to the end of the axle housing on the left, and to a frame
bracket on the right. Also called a Panhard bar.
Tracking: The direction an object is moving. May be different
than the direction the object is pointing.
Track Out: The point on the track exiting a turn where the car
comes closest to the wall.
Track Temperature: The temperature of the surface of the
Track Width: Refers to the overall width of the axles, from
their widest points. Usually, track width is measured from the
centerline of one tire to the centerline of the other.
Traction: The friction between the tires and the road
surface; the amount of grip provided.
Traction Control: Devices used to limit acceleration to only
the amount beneficial for traction.
Trading Paint: Slang term used to describe aggressive
driving involving a lot of bumping and rubbing.
Trail Braking: When the brake is applied after steering into
a curve. Traditionally in racing, brakes are applied while the front
wheels are still steering straight. Trail braking may allow deeper
braking into a corner, but if not done properly can very quickly
result in massive oversteer.
Trailing Arm: A rear suspension piece holding the rear axle
firmly fore and aft yet allowing it to travel up and down.
Tramping: A state in which a vehicle bounces up and down
abnormally. If the bouncing is localized to the rear tires while
under power, the car is said to be experiencing "wheel
Trans Am: A road-racing series for sedans, sanctioned by the
SCCA. Trans Am cars are based around American-made sports cars such
as the Camaro, Firebird, and Mustang. In construction, the cars are
almost identical to Late Model cars, with tube-frame chassis and
plastic or fiberglass body panels, and pushrod V-8 engines.
Transfer Slot/Spot: In a race that uses heat races to
determine qualifying for the feature or main race, the transfer
slots are the finishing positions in the heat races that qualify the
drivers who finish in those positions to advanced to the feature.
Typically, this will be anywhere from the first six to the first
fifteen finishing positions, depending on how many heat races there
are and how many starting positions are available in the feature.
Transponder: A small electronic box, attached at the same
point in each car, that sends out a small signal every time it
crosses a fixed scoring point.
Transporter: A large tractor-trailer used to transport
racecars and parts to a racetrack. Those used by teams in the major
series usually have the space to carry two cars (one above the
other), spare engines, transmissions, and axles, and a small
workshop complete with machine tools, all in the trailer.
Traps: The two beams of light at the end of the drag strip
which compute mile per hour.
Tread: The portion of a tire that comes into contact with the
Tread Depth: The usable thickness of the tread. Small
pinholes, called depth holes, are placed in the tread so tread depth
can be measured.
Tread Pattern: This refers to the groove design on the
operating surface of a tire. Most patterns
are molded into the tread at the factory, but a custom grooved tire
is also said to have a tread pattern.
Tread Rib: The tread section that runs around the
circumference of the tire separated by the tread grooves.
Tread Width: The width of a tire's tread.
Tread Wear Indicator: Narrow bands, sometimes called
"wear bars," that appear across the tread of the tire when
only 2/32 inch of treads remains. This applies to DOT type tires.
Triangular: A track has the tri-oval stretched out from the
center of the track to the point that the track has three corners of
nearly equal angle. At such a track, the dogleg is considered a
numbered corner (unlike the other types of tri-oval, where the
dogleg isn't numbered), and the other corners are numbered singly,
instead of split into two halves. This means that triangular tracks
have only three numbered turns instead of the ovals usual four.
Pocono is the best example of a triangle track.
Tri-Oval: An oval track where the front straight is built
with a dogleg (the word "tri-oval" is also the name used
for the dogleg itself). The main advantage of this type of track is
that, for fans in the front straight sitting around the curve of the
dogleg, the cars appear to be coming straight at them, which makes
for a better show. Daytona, built in 1959, was the first tri-oval.
Trip Strips: Small undulations on an open wheel driver’s
helmet used to reduce buffeting and increase helmet stability at
Tunnel: Underground entrance and exit to a tracks infield.
Installed at many tracks to allow for smaller trucks and other
traffic to access the infield without damaging or soiling the track.
Turbocharger: A device that uses engine exhaust pressure to
drive a compressor, which forces more air into the engine, usually
directly into the intake. See also supercharger.
Turbulence: Swirling, disrupted air.
Turn In: Location on the track where the driver starts to turn
the steering wheel to enter the turn.
Turn Numbering: A numbering system that is used to refer to
the individual turns of an oval. Since the typical 180-degree
corners can constitute the bulk of an oval, they are split into two
halves, which are numbered separately. Thus, the first half of the
first 180-degree corner after the start-finish line is turn 1, and
the second half of that corner is turn 2. The other 180-degree
corner is numbered as turns 3 and 4. Thus, ovals are generally
considered to have four turns
Turn Out: Location on the track where a driver turns the
steering wheel back for exiting a turn.
TUSA: Team United Sanctioning Association.
Tweak: Minor adjustments.
Tweel: Combination of the two words tire and wheel. A single
piece product that serves as both a tire and a wheel. The Tweel
features a network of polyurethane spokes fused to a wheel hub and a
circular outer flat rim that replaces the casing, beads and sidewall
structures of a conventional tire. Attached to the outer surface is
an underlying reinforcing belt covered with a flat rubber tread. The
airless tweel uses a series of polymeric rings arranged radially
around a wheel hub, to which is attached a reinforcing belt/tread
package. Because Tweel-type units would be manufactured perfectly
round, they would require no tire-to-wheel mounting or balancing,
making them basically a bolt-on application.
Two Hundred MPH Tape: Also known as "racer's tape."
Highly adhesive Duct tape strong enough to hold parts of the
racecars body together at high speed.
Tyre: Alternate spelling for “tire”.
Back to top
: United American Racing Association.
UDRA : United Drag Racers
UDTRA: United Dirt Track Racing Association.
ULMS : United Late Model
UMARA: United Midget Auto Racing Association.
UMP: United Mid-Western Promoters. Sanctions Late Model and
Modified racing in the United States.
UMRA: United Midget-Racing Association.
UMSA : United Mini-Sprint
Understeer: A handling condition where the front wheels tend to
slide when turning into a corner, which makes the car want to keep
going straight. Also called push or tight. The opposite of loose and
Undertray: A portion of the underbody of a car that is sculpted
to increase downforce.
Un-Lap: When a driver down one lap passes the leader to
regain their position on the lead lap.
Un-Sprung Weight: The weight of the wheel, tire, and
suspension parts that are not supported by the springs. More
un-sprung weight means more inertia in the suspension, which usually
means less responsiveness and poorer handling, so reducing un-sprung
weight is a major preoccupation of suspension, wheel, and tire
URC : United Racing Club.
USA: United SprintCar Alliance.
USAC: United States Auto Club. This organization sanctions
open-wheel racing including Silver Crown, Sprint, Midget, and
Formula 2000 events from the Midwest to California.
USAR : United Speed
USCS : United Sprint Car
USMTS: United States Modified Touring Series.
USOMS: United States Outlaw Mini-Sprint Association.
USRA: United States Racing Association. Sanctions weekly racing.
USTAR: Ultimate Short Track Auto Racing.
USTCC : United Stated
Touring Car Championship.
UTQGS: (Uniform Tire Quality Grading Standards) A tire
information system that provides consumers with ratings (from A to
C) for a tire's traction and temperature. Tread wear is normally
rated from 60 to 620. Ratings are determined by tire manufacturers
using government-prescribed test procedures, and are molded into the
sidewall of the tire.
Back to top
Valance: A panel that extends below the
vehicles front bumper. This is used to divert air around the car and
not allow it to travel under the car. This helps with increasing
Valve: A device used to start and stop the flow of a liquid or a
Valve Core: This is the core of a valve stem. The core is
depressed to apply or remove air from the tire through the stem. The
core can be removed from the stem to increase the airflow.
Valve Float: What happens when an engine is run at an RPM
higher than what the valve train is capable of operating at,
resulting in the valves' failing to close completely during the
compression stroke. Valve float causes loss of power and usually
leads to engine damage.
Valve Stem: An assembly, metal or rubber that houses a valve
cap to keep out dirt and moisture and a valve core to prevent air
Valve Train: All parts related to the function of the valves.
VARA: Vintage Auto Racing Association. Sanctions vintage road
VARC: Vintage American Race Cars. Sanctions vintage car oval
Vent Hose: On an Indy car, the alternative to a catch can for
recovering fuel that overflows from the fuel cell during the
refueling process. The vent hose plugs into the vent port and takes
the overflow back over the pit wall to a tank for measuring and
Vent Man: On an Indy car, the pit crew's member who handles
the vent hose. This person also handles the air hose for the car's
built-in pneumatic jacks.
Venturi: An area of a device that reduces area in order to speed
Victory Lane: An area on or inside the track where the winner is
honored after the end of the race.
Victory Lap: A celebratory lap taken by a race winner, after
the race is over. Generally, the driver will remove helmet or gloves
and wave to the fans. Some weekly racing venues don't give out
trophies for heat races or other preliminary events, so on such
occasions they may allow the winner to take the checkered flag and
make a victory lap while holding it out the window. See also Polish
VMRA : Vintage Modified
VNT: Variable Nozzle Turbocharger.
VOTRC : Virginia Old
Timers Racing Club.
VSS: Virginia Sprint Series.
VTEC: Valve Timing and Lift Electronically Controlled.
Vulcanization: The curing portion of the tire manufacturing
process when the tire is inserted into a press and heated to
encourage polymer bonding and cross-linking.
VVT-I: Variable Valve Timing Intelligence. Refers to a computer
controlled valve system rather than a hydraulically controlled one.
Back to top
"W": Can refer to an engine
with its cylinders in a "W" configuration (three banks),
but in the context of oval-track racing, this is usually understood
to mean the Ford "Windsor" small-block V-8, which is a
common alternative to the Chevy small-block in many forms of Stock
car racing, and also serves as the basis for some Sprint car
engines. (The name comes from the city in Ohio where the production
block is manufactured.) See also Clevor.
Walking the Dog: Describes a driver who was lucky enough to
hit the proper setup and is running away from the field.
given to all NHRA National Event winners. Named for series founder
War Wagon: A
large pit cart usually stocked with all the necessary components to
rebuild a racecar after a wreck. These carts become popular in most
all-traveling series when access to the team's trailer during a race
was limited, or when returning to the trailer led to
Warm-Up Lane: A paved lane, separate from the racing surface,
that extends from the pit exit to some point further around the
track. The idea is to give cars exiting the pits a separate area for
coming up to speed, before they merge back in with the race traffic.
Water Burnout: Process of spinning your tires in water to get
the tires hot and sticky for better traction.
WCAR: West Coast Auto Racing.
WCS : Wisconsin Challenge
WDRA: Western Dirt Racing Association.
WDRL: World Dirt Racing League.
Wear: The loss of material from a part due to friction.
Wear Bars: Raised sections of tread grooves that indicate
only a small portion of tread depth remains. In race tires, wear
bars usually appear at 2/16th of an inch of tread
remaining. Applies to DOT type tires.
Weaving: Zigzagging across the track to warm up and clean off
Wedge: (1) In Stock cars, the dynamic weight balance of the
car from corner to corner using a jackscrew at each corner, attached
to the spring mount; turning the screw transfers weight to or from
that wheel, altering the handling characteristics. (2) Extra
rubber inserted into the sidewall of a tire during construction to
stiffen the tire.
Weekly Racing: Weekly racing at most tracks consists of
several classes of racing, some amateur and some professional
classes. Generally, each class will run qualifying, heat races, and
Weight: A measured piece of metal usually lead attached to a
wheel by tape or clamped on. Used to balance a tire/wheel assembly
to reduce vibration.
Weight Jacking: The art of shifting a portion of the weight of a
car to certain wheels or corners to improve tire grip and the cars
Weight Transfer: The dynamics of weight being transferred. Side
to side during cornering, to the rear wheels during acceleration and
to the front during deceleration or braking.
WESCO: Washington Economy Sprints.
Wet Nitrous Setup: Injecting nitrous mixed with fuel.
Wets: Tires used during wet conditions. Usually grooved to
channel water away from the center of the tire in order to have a
good contact patch. Also referred to as rains.
Wet Sump: The type of oiling system used in most passenger cars,
and in some racecars (usually the lower classes). In a wet sump, oil
that isn't being used at the moment is stored in a sump, which is an
area built into one end of the oil pan (under the engine), like the
deep end of a swimming pool. The pan catches oil running down from
the engine, and the oil runs into the sump, where a pump picks it up
and forces it back into the engine. Compare with dry sump.
Wheelbase: The length of a vehicle when measured from the
center of the front hub to the center of the rear hub.
Wheel Hop: A hopping action of the rear wheels during heavy
acceleration. Traction is lost and regained in rapid cycles after
power is applied to the rear wheels.
Wheelie Bars: Bars attached to the rear of the car to prevent
excessive front wheel lift.
Wheel Packing: Dirt
terminology for using racecars to smooth the surface of a dirt
track. Prior to a race night, most dirt tracks are dug up and
watered. In order to level and smooth the surface, cars turn slow
laps, often clockwise, to pack the dirt down smooth prior to racing.
White Flag: A flag displayed to indicate one more lap remains in
Wicker Bill: Also called a Gurney flap. A small spoiler-like
tab that sticks up (or down) perpendicular to an aerodynamic
surface, such as a wing; it has the effect of increasing air
pressure on that side of the surface, making it produce more force
in one direction or the other. Perfected in the early '70s by
legendary Indy car driver and designer Dan Gurney.
Wicking: (1) Very slow loss of air pressure from a tire.
(2) Process used in the manufacturing of tires to eliminate air
Wide-5: A wheel-and-hub system where the area that would
normally be the center of the wheel is instead part of a star-shaped
hub. The wheel itself has no center; the wheel's mounting holes are
on small tabs protruding from the inside of the rim. Wide-5 wheels
have the wheel studs close to the rim, supported by the much
stronger hub, and so are immune from having the center ripped out of
the wheel by cornering forces, as sometimes happens with regular
Windmill: Another name for a supercharger.
Window Net: Tight webbing that covers most of the left-side
window of a Stock car, next to the driver. It prevents the driver's
head and left arm from going out of the window in a left-side impact
or roll, and it keeps crash debris from flying in the window and
striking the driver's head. The window net unfastens at the top so
the driver can get in and out. Developed in the mid-'60s.
Windscreen: The windshield or a transparent fiberglass
surface on the front of a car designed to aid airflow and deflect
turbulent air from the driver.
Wind Tunnel: Controlled environment in which cars are tested
against a generated airflow. Used to test and improve aerodynamic
characteristics of a racecar and its components.
Wing: As used in auto racing, the object of the wing is to
provide downforce to stick the tires to the track, as opposed to the
aircraft use of creating lift. Early wings were aircraft wing
sections turned upside down, but nowadays most are purpose-built for
racing. Some series permit cars to have hydraulic systems with
cockpit levers allowing the driver to adjust the angle.
Winglet: Name given to any smaller body wing or aerodynamic
Winners Circle: Located in Victory Lane. The location the
winning driver takes his car.
Winston Cup: NASCAR's top Stock car racing series whose
primary sponsor was RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company who manufactures
Winston cigarettes. Prior to 1982, this was referred to as the Grand
National division. Primary sponsorship was changed to Nextel
Winston West: A NASCAR series in the western U.S., which uses
cars similar to the Winston Cup cars. The series evolved from the
old Grand National West series on the West Coast. Today, the cars
are similar enough to Winston Cup cars that, prior to 1997, Winston
Cup events in the West were also part of the Winston West series and
awarded Winston West points. The Winston West series is generally
considered to be at the same level of competition as the Busch North
Series, and in 2003, NASCAR united the rules of both organizations
and renamed that level of competition it's Grand National Division.
Wire-to-Wire: A driver who wins the race from the pole
Wishbone: Suspension member that connects the wheels to the
chassis. Named this because it is shaped similar to a turkey
WKA: World Karting Association. Sanctions kart racing in North
WMRA: Washington Midget Racing Association.
WoO: World of Outlaws, a sanctioning body that sanctions
Sprint car events across the United States. WoO cars are noted for
their large wings (as opposed to USAC sprints, which aren't allowed
Worst to First: When a car starts in the back at the beginning
of a race and then wins in the end he is said to go from worst to
WOWMS: Wolverine Outlaw Winged Midget Series.
WRA : Western Racing
Wrench: Slang term for a mechanic.
WRL : Welterweight Racing
League or Western Racing League.
WSOA: Winged Sprints On Asphalt.
WTQMA: Winged Three Quarter Midget Association.
Back to top
Model Dirt Car series formally known as the United Dirt Track Racing
Yaw Angle: The difference between the
direction the front of the car is pointing and the direction the car
is actually traveling.
Yellow Flag: A flag indicating that a wreck has occurred, or
some other condition (such as rain, debris, or spilled oil) has made
the track unsafe for racing at speed. In oval-track racing, when the
yellow is in effect, all cars must slow to a safe speed, and passing
is prohibited. Generally, a pace car will enter the track, and drive
in front of the race leader to control the speed; passing the pace
car or other cars is not permitted. Other cars can draw up into a
pack immediately behind the leader; exact procedures vary from one
series to the next. In road racing, there are two forms of a yellow
flag. 1) Local yellow: drivers must slow and attempt no passes in
the area where the flag is displayed. The rest of the track remains
under green flag conditions. 2) Full-course yellow: all cars must
slow to a safe speed, and passing is prohibited on all portions of
Yellow Stripe: In many oval track series, a rookie driver is
required to put yellow strips of tape on rear of their car. The
purpose of this is to warn other drivers that they are approaching
an inexperienced driver.
Yellow Tail: Slang term for a rookie driver. In most series
rookies are required to have a yellow stripe on the back of their
Back to top
Zig Zagging: Weaving across the track to
warm up and/or clean off tires.
Back to top