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List of Motorsport Terminology
Wikimedia list article
The following is a glossary of terminology used in motorsport, along with explanations of their meanings.
Often used in Formula One or other racing series, it is a time which the driver must qualify the car within 107% of the polesitter's time to be allowed to compete. Variations of this may be used to monitor drivers and warn them to make the required threshold of speed or be parked (disqualified). Similarly, the IndyCar Series uses a 105% rule and NASCAR has a 115% rule, mainly for performance on track, though INDYCAR and NASCAR often adjust the rule for tracks with very abrasive surfaces (such as Atlanta Motor Speedway) where lap times can be considerably faster when a car has newer tires.
200 MPH Club
(Also known as the "2 Club" or "Dirty Two Club" for records taking place at El Mirage Lake) A lifetime "membership" awarded by the SCTA or another sanctioning body / circuit to any driver who drives over a specified distance at a minimum speed of 200 miles per hour (320 km/h), while also breaking a record. Membership can stretch over from the more exclusive 300 to the elite 400.
Drivers race on the apron at Chicagoland Speedway (the area between the white and yellow lines)
Compressed air activated lifting cylinders strategically mounted to the frame of and near the wheels of a racing car which project downwards to lift the car off the ground during a pit stop so to more quickly change wheels/tires or provide mechanics access to the underside of the car for repairs.
In Midget and Sprint Car racing, and in many short tracks, "alphabet soup" denotes the various preliminary races drivers will race through to advance to the feature. Such is named for the heat race format from the O Main at the Chili Bowl to the N, M, L, K, J, I, H, G, F, E, D, C, B, and A Main. A driver who runs through the Alphabet Soup is a driver who advanced from the lowest feature of the day and advanced to the A Main.
Alternatively armchair racer, an individual who follows motor sports primarily on television and or the internet and reads books and magazines about the subject. Can also refer to someone who plays racing video games
(drag racing) referring to distance from the 1/8 mile mark to the 1/4 mark of the track.
A slower car, usually in the process of being lapped by the leaders. It is sometimes a derogatory term.
See Spare car.
Bag of doughnuts
(drag racing) When a driver scores a perfect reaction time, 0.000 seconds.
(drag racing) starting line electric eye controlling prestaged and staged lights.
A.) The angle at which a track inclines towards the outside of a corner or from the lower to the higher side of a straight, also referred to as camber, more so when modest or negative, B.) a corner that inclines towards the outside or C.) an earth bank where spectators sit or stand
To be ordered to the pits or penalty box, due to a rules infraction or unsafe car (loose parts, smoking, dropping fluid, etc.). A black flag is shown to the car that has to stop. Also known as "being posted".
The painted line defining the exit from pit lane where it rejoins the race track. It prevents emerging race cars from driving into race traffic travelling past the pits. Competitors are penalised for crossing the blend line, ensuring cars have attained full racing speed before rejoining the race.
(drag racing) Area where bleach is deposited for cars to perform burnouts (q.v). Gasoline (since discontinued for safety reasons), water, and TrackBite are also used. Most organisations only permit water. This is done at the start of most drag races.
A.) An engine that is supercharged (i.e. a "blown" V8 is a supercharged V8) B.) An engine that has suffered catastrophic failure, is no longer running, or has sustained irreparable damage (i.e. "Looks like #21 has a blown engine...his race is over").
flipping of a car or boat, due to excessive air under the chassis or hull, respectively.
(drag racing) refers to the nitrous system, also the jug.
A move with origins in stock car racing, where a trailing car intentionally bumps the car in front in an attempt to pass.
Performed to heat the tires up for better traction. It is also used in stock car racing typically to celebrate a race win.
Buschwhacker, Claim Jumper (2008-14), Signal Pirate (2015-), or Cup Leech
(NASCAR) A driver who regularly races in the first tier NASCAR series, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, who makes guest or semi-regular appearances racing in the second-tier NASCAR Xfinity Series. The term was named originally for then sponsor of the second-tier series Anheuser-Busch brewery. Claim Jumper was a reference to second-tier sponsor Nationwide Insurance (2008-14), and Signal Pirate references current second-tier sponsor Comcast Xfinity, with Cup Leech used as a sponsor-neutral term.
A.) (Drag Racing) Referring to when 2 Top Fuel or Funny Car cars are sitting at the starting line and one or both cars refuse to stage. The motor noise at idle sounds like a cackle. At the discretion of the starter, they can order the drivers to stage or even have them pull out of the lanes and have the next race group come forward. Or B.) A show and shine for hot rods where the cars are allowed to idle.
A.) The angle at which wheels are set up to tilt in or out, measured in degrees in or out from 90 degrees (i.e. "2.5 degrees negative camber" means each wheel is tilted 2.5 degrees inwards from vertical) "Positive camber" means the top of the tyre is angled outwards from the car; "negative camber" means that the top tilts inwards. Negative camber assists cornering performance as the outside tyres lean into the corner (like a motorcycle) which keeps the lateral forces on the tire lower and causes less flex in the sidewall, although it does also have the effect of increasing tyre wear. Or B.) Banking, the angle at which a corner inclines towards the outside or a straight from its lower side to its higher side. Sometimes specified as positive camber and negative camber, the latter indicating a decline from the inside of a corner.
A series of and combination of chain-link fencing, welded grid fencing, and / or cables used to slow or stop out of control cars and prevent debris and tyres from hitting the crowd. It is common on short tracks, street and permanent circuits.
Also known as a recovery tank. A receptacle placed in a go kart to capture the liquids like water and oil that would otherwise drop onto the track.
Caution / Caution period
See Full course yellow.
In off-road racing, a non-competitive vehicle that follows a competing vehicle to assist with repairs.
A compulsory time-off period in which all motorsport activities must cease for a short period on late Sunday morning to allow church services to proceed without disruption from adjacent noise, common to all motorsport venues taking place within a certain proximity of a church, or if local regulations mandate such. At Lime Rock Park, racing on Sunday is specifically prohibited. Some series intentionally do not allow any activity on the circuit until after noon on Sunday. Many series in North America reserve such time off in order to have chapel services inside the circuit, organised by a ministry traveling with the series, and spectators with chapel services organised by local churches.
Air that has not been affected by turbulence from other cars. The opposite of dirty air.
The official responsible for all on-track activities including demonstrations and parades. They oversee the track conditions, supervise the marshals and emergency services, control the deployment of the safety car and decide upon suspending a session. If a race director is appointed the clerk is junior and the race director has ultimate authority; if not they are often the most senior official at a racing event.
Closing/shutting the door
A driver takes an early defensive racing line into a corner to block the car behind from overtaking along the preferred line.
In rally racing, a co-driver directs the driver through the course by reading pacenotes which describe the turns and obstacles ahead. Also called a navigator historically when the reading of maps played a larger part in rallies prior to the widespread adoption of pacenoting. The term is also used in long-distance sports car and touring car racing where more than one driver is sharing the same vehicle.
A preplanned full course yellow, mandated by the sanctioning body, where drivers bring their vehicles into the pits. Frequently done to change tires because of excessive tire wear or to prevent teams from having to hire specialised pit crews (see Controlled Caution). In some cases, the safety car only is applied after a set number of consecutive green-flag laps or time has been run without a safety car (typically 50-100 laps). A cash or points bonus may be paid to the team leading at the time of the period (such as end of stage competition cautions in NASCAR's national series).
Where the series organisers specify that all competitors in the race must use an identical part; as in control tyre or control engine.
During a Safety Car period, regardless of a Competition Caution or an incident that brings out the Safety Car, teams can change tires and add fuel, within a limited time (2-5 laps or five minutes) to make adjustments. Depending on the series, teams will either not lose any track position (if it is an interval break) or will not lose track position relative to the cars that pitted during the caution (for example, if the third, fourth, and eighth place cars pit during the caution, they will be the first, second, and third place cars coming off pit lane, and will start behind lead-lap cars that did not pit, in the same relative order as before the safety car. This rule intends to prevent teams from hiring pit crews such as those seen in NASCAR's national series, which can cost at least $5,000 and often over $10,000 per race.
Two curled up flags held out in form of a cross signal the halfway mark in many American racing series.
In dirt or off-road racing, when dirt is kicked up from the track that lands near the wall after trucks drift through the corners. The dirt builds up after time and can slow a driver down if they slide too deep into it while sliding through the turn.
When a racing team uses a car built for them, either by another team, or by a specialist racing chassis manufacturer. Primarily a Formula One term where the majority of teams build their own cars. The practice has since been banned from F1. In some short track Late Model and Modified teams, "customer cars" are standard, while the opposite is the "house car," which is the works cars built by a chassis builder.
Applying the brakes later than normal when entering a turn.
(drag racing) when a dragster pulls so far forward that they leave the pre stage area and turn off the pre stage lights on the Christmas Tree, but not far enough to leave the staged area. This is legal in drag racing. This may give the driver a few inch advantage, unless the other driver deep stages too.
A style of restart where the race leader starts in the first row by themself and the other drivers start two-wide. Named after a start method for a short track in the state of Delaware in the United States. The leader can choose which lane they want for the restart, which can be an advantage, with a clear advantage over second place. Compare that to Lane Choice.
Delta Time (also Pit-Stop Delta)
The entire time it generally takes a driver to enter the pit lane, make a full pit stop, and exit the pit area back to the track to resume racing at optimum pace. For example, a Delta Time of 25 seconds means the entire pitting process (entering, stopping and exiting) cost the driver 25 seconds not driving at full race speed even though the car may have been stationary in the pit box for only 5 seconds.
Density Altitude (often DA)
(drag racing) which often refers to the quality of air. Technically "quality of air" refers to the pressure drop as altitude above sea level increases. Atmospheric air pressure is lower at a race track higher above sea level. All non-turbocharged internal combustion engines produce less power as air pressure drops, as each intake stroke draws in less air per volume than normally. This may require the engine to be "tuned" to optimize the power, as it may still "think" it's at a lower altitude. Because a supercharged engine pressurizes intake air at a fixed mechanical ratio to the engines RPM's, it suffers a proportionate loss in power, but not as severe as a naturally aspirated engine will. A turbocharged engine is largely unaffected, as the lower density of the intake air is offset by the lower backpressure resisting the exhaust flow through the turbo.
(drag racing) when bracket racing, drivers must estimate or "dial in" the time in which they expect to run. Therefore, two unmatched cars in weight and power can compete, by a handicap system. If one runs a faster time than dialed in, it is a breakout.
Did Not Attend (often DNA)
Denotes a driver who was entered for a race but did not attend the circuit. Sometimes referred to as Did Not Arrive or simply a "no show."
A driver who did not finish the race. Some sanctioning bodies do not classify a driver in the final results if they did not finish completed a certain number of laps, for example in Formula One a driver must complete 90% of the completed laps to be classified as a finisher.
Did Not Qualify / Did Not Pre-qualify (often DNQ / DNPQ)
A failure to qualify or pre-qualify for a race. Most often because the driver was too slow to make it into a limited number of grid positions, or was slower than the 107% rule. Refer 107% rule.
Did Not Start (often DNS)
A driver who did not attempt to compete in a race, even though they may have competed in practice sessions and/or qualifying. Not the same as the DNA already mentioned.
The air disrupted by a car when it moves at speed, which can cause aerodynamic difficulties for a car following closely behind. The opposite of clean air.
Disqualify (often DQ or DSQ)
Where a competitor is removed from the results, usually in penalty for a technical infringement. Sometimes, but not always, interchangeable with Excluded.
A gentle turn or kink on a racing circuit, usually associated with road courses, but also present on oval tracks. On road courses, a dogleg may be present on a long straightaway (e.g. Mid-Ohio), curving the straight slightly, but usually not enough to require drivers to slow down much for the turn. On an oval, a dogleg can be located on the frontstretch (e.g. Charlotte) or ISM Raceway Phoenix) creating an oblong shape, adding a challenge, increasing sightlines for fans, and again, usually not requiring drivers to slow down for the extra curve. A quad-oval is also referred to as a "double dogleg."(See Charlotte or Atlanta Motor Speedway) Some tracks classify the dogleg as a turn (Mid Ohio turn 3) or not (Charlotte). Also known as a sweeper.
A drift competition in progress
Doped (or Dope)
(drag racing) commonly used word in the southern states if the car is using nitrous or propane injection on diesels.
Drag racing term used to group vehicles, usually sedan bodied, that still have functional doors for driver access to the vehicle, as opposed to Funny cars which have a single lightweight outer body draped over the racing chassis.
Increased force holding the car onto the track. This is created by the aerodynamics or aerodynamic aids (F1 wings, etc.) of a vehicle which causes a "reverse lift" effect. That is, creating an area of low pressure (suction) under the car and/or under the wing(s) or other aids fixed to the car, the higher pressure above forcing the tires harder to the ground, effectively increasing the static friction. This allows it to travel faster through a corner, at the cost of having a reduced overall top speed, since drag is proportionate to lift and downforce is caused by lift.
A mechanically activated element of the rear wing of modern Formula One cars, where in a predetermined position on the circuit a wing element will open, moving from steeply inclined to flat, thus reducing the amount of drag generated by the rear wing, increasing its top speed on a straightaway. The mechanism artificially assists overtaking with additional benefit of overcoming Dirty Air issues while following cars closely.
Drifting is a form of motorsport in which drivers intentionally provoke constant oversteering slides while preserving vehicle control and a high exit speed. In motor racing, drifting is a cornering technique (also called a four-wheel drift) where a car takes a high-speed corner held at an angle on the track without major steering inputs, balancing natural understeer with power oversteer.
A penalty applied by race officials while the race is underway. A competitor is directed to drive into the pit lane and travel its length at much reduced speed (pit lanes are mostly speed-limited to protect the pitcrew and marshals) losing significant track position in the process. When the driver is serving their drive through penalty they are not allowed to stop anywhere in the pits. See also Stop-go penalty.
A meeting where drivers and officials meet before a race to discuss the upcoming event. Also referred to as Drivers' briefing or Driver and Crew Chief meeting, as in some series, the driver and their crew chief must attend.
On a drying circuit, the racing line that becomes dry first as the cars displace water from it.
A popular term used by competitors when referring to the early stages of the series' season.
Sequences of alternating turns on a road course, resembling the letter 'S'.
Elapsed Time. A term used in drag racing about the total time the run took, from start, to finish.
(drag racing) Slip of paper turned in by the race timer which denotes elapsed time for both drivers, and who won the race; it may also include reaction time and "60 foot" time. This is an official document, used for timekeeping. Also known as a timeslip.
Excluded (often EXC or EXCL)
Removed from competition before the race has started, generally due to an infringement during practice or qualifying.
Energy Recovery System. Part of the hybrid engines used in Formula One since 2014, that recover energy from the brakes and heat and stores it in batteries, which is then used to boost power. It combines both a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), known officially as the Motor Generator Unit - Kinetic (MGU-K), and a system recovering heat from the turbocharger, officially known as the Motor Generator Unit - Heat (MGU-H).
Usually refers specifically to the Brabham BT46 Formula One car, although the concept was actually pioneered by sports car manufacturer Chaparral Cars on the Chaparral 2J. The placement of a large fan at the rear of the chassis driven either independently or by the engine with the purpose of creating negative air-pressure underneath the car to create additional downforce for increased cornering speed.
fastest time in which a lap was completed by a driver during a race. Sometimes rewarded with bonus championship points.
The competing cars in an event.
A driver or team usually slower than the majority of the field that only participates if there are open spots. See also start and park.
First or Worse
In drag racing, if both drivers commit a foul, the driver who commits the foul first loses, unless it is two separate fouls, where the loser is the driver who committed the worse foul; (a foul start is worse than a break out, in a bracket class with breakout rules in effect, then a lane violation is worse than foul start, and failure to participate in a post-run inspection is worst). The "worse" part is in case of a double breakout, the driver closer to their index wins. If one driver commits a foul start, but the opponent crosses a boundary line (wall or center line), the driver who commits the red light wins. The only double disqualification fouls are deep staging (if it is prohibited in the rule book), leaving before the tree is activated (officials can use video evidence to determine who left first), or crossing the boundary line (although an official has the right to declare the driver who crossed the line second was forced; in a final, only the first to cross the line is disqualified). In a single pass via bye run or opponent breakdown, or a left before tree is activated situation (second driver only), any boundary line foul, nor not finishing the run, will result in the driver's time being disallowed and credited with a "No Time - Took the Green Light" win.
Television or radio coverage that consists of the entire race start-to-finish rather than highlights, tape delayed, "packaged" coverage, or highlights of the first portion of the race before broadcasting the final quarter of the race live. Derives from green flag (start) to checkered flag (finish). Instituted largely in the late 1970s, with the 1979 Daytona 500 being the first major 500-mile race with live, flag-to-flag coverage.
When a wheel locks under braking, the car skids and leaves a flat spot on the section of the tyre that was touching the ground at the time.
(drag racing) Funny Car, short for "fender flopper." Coined by dragster crews in the late 1960s to separate Funny Cars, which had fiberglass bodies with fenders, from dragsters. Erroneously attributed to flip-top bodies of Funny Cars.
A lap started by a competitor at optimum speed, as opposed to a lap from a standing start, usually in qualifying.
(See Rolling Start)
The lap cars make before forming up on the grid for the start.
A fuel tank with a flexible inner liner to minimize the potential for punctures in the event of a collision or other mishap resulting in serious damage to the vehicle. Mandatory in most forms of motorsport.
(drag racing) any car running fuel or in Fuel class (most often, TFD or TF/FC).
Full course yellow
When yellow flags are deployed at every flag point around a race circuit and a Safety Car leads the field until a hazard is cleared.
in sportscar racing, typically refers to a driver who is not a professional racing driver. These drivers' primary source of income is not related to motorsport. Most sportscar racing categories today use a driver rating system where notable drivers with major accomplishment in single-seater competition and under 50 years of age are platinum, drivers with major wins in domestic motorsport or platinum-level drivers 50-59 are gold, gentleman drivers who are experienced are silver, and gentleman drivers with an entry-level (B) international licence, or platinum-level drivers older than 60 (Emerson Fittipaldi raced in the 2014 6 Hours of São Paulo as a bronze driver because of his age) are declared bronze. Many series require gentleman drivers in lower-level categories (P2 and GTE-AM in WEC, P2 and GT3/GTD in IMSA) and only allow one professional driver in a three-driver team in those classes.
When small grains of rubber start coming off a tyre. See also marbles.
Also called Grand Slam. To qualify on pole, set the fastest lap, win and lead every lap of a Grand Prix.
Ceremonial marshaling role at a race meeting. Largely held by celebrities or retired notable drivers with no actual duties or responsibilities beyond the waving of a flag to commence activity or to announce the traditional start your engines prior to some races.
Off-track run-off area, usually positioned on the outside of corners, filled with gravel intended to slow down and stop cars that have left the track at speed. Generally there are tyre barriers between a gravel trap and the catch fencing, in order to protect the spectators. Sometimes nicknamed "kitty litter" for its visual resemblance.
A paved race course that is clean from rubber buildup, oil/grease, marbles (see below), and debris, typically cleansed by means of a recent rain shower. Depending on the track and/or racing series, a green track may be favorable or unfavorable. Track crews may use jet blowers to remove marbles and debris from the surface, to mimic favorable "green track" conditions. However, a green track may be unfavorable due to reduced traction.
When a full-course caution comes out right before the end of a race, the race is extended beyond its scheduled distance. Depending on sanctioning body, there may be either one or multiple attempts at a restart, between one and five laps, before the race is declared officially over. NASCAR's national series will have a maximum of three attempts if the penultimate lap only under caution, while some short track races have unlimited attempts at a span between one and five consecutive green-flag laps. In British Superbike Championship motorcycle racing, if a caution is called in the final third of the race, three additional laps will be added on the ensuing restart in a green-white-checker style finish.
wreck an engine (the engine "grenaded") so violently that internal parts of the engine break through the block and / or bolt on parts (cylinder heads, oil pans, etc.) to blow up the engine. Distinct from "popping the blower". A hand-grenade engine is a usually derogatory term for an engine tuned to maximise engine power at the cost of low mechanical reliability, or an engine design that is known for failing on a regular basis.
The starting formation of a race, generally in rows of two for cars and three or four for bikes. The Indianapolis 500 traditionally has a unique grid of three cars per row.
Also called The Groove. The optimal path around the track for the lowest lap time. In drag racing it is about the center portion of the lane, where the cars can gain traction quicker.
A method of creating downforce by the shape of the car's body, notably by shaping the underside of the car in combination with the car's lateral edges in order to trap and dramatically slow the airflow running underneath the car, effectively turning the entire car into a wing.
A small lip placed at the trailing edge of a race car's aerodynamic wing. Despite its relative size, often only millimetres tall, it can double the downforce achieved by the wing, although at the premium of increasing drag, hence the small size. Named for the man commonly attributed to its proliferation, Formula One driver and constructor, Dan Gurney. Also known as a wickerbill.
A tight 180 degree corner that twists back on itself.
where cars start a race in the reverse order of qualifying, or perceived race pace, usually with timed gaps between cars starting a race. More common in racing's early days than today, the effect was the produce a race result in which all cars would arrive at the race finish together, regardless of the performance of the race vehicle. Another form of handicapping is success ballast, where more successful cars are assessed a weight penalty for every win, and Balance of Power in sportscar racing.
a spoiler attached across the back of the rear wing to greatly increase drag. The result is a massive increase in the slipstream, which improves wheel-to-wheel competition as well as multiple lead changes per lap.
also known as a head restraint, is a safety item compulsory in many car racing sports. It reduces the likelihood of head and/or neck injuries, such as a basilar skull fracture, in the event of a crash.
in drag racing, where both drivers leave at the same time and is used in all professional ("pro") classes.
A shorter race which decides the participants of the main race and sometimes starting order as well, usually there are more heats in which only a part of the drivers from the entry list take part. Can also mean part of the main race, when it consists of two or more parts.
(motorcycle, off-road, powerboat racing), the rider who is the first one through the first turn at the start of a race
(drag racing) getting a starting line advantage due to a quicker reaction time. The other driver gets "holeshotted" "welded to the line" or "left at the tree." A "holeshot win" is any win in a heads-up class where a car wins because of better reaction time, despite having a slower elapsed time (e.t.).
Process by which a new vehicle or part of a vehicle is approved by organizers for usage in racing. It also refers to the majority of the world's road racing sanctioning bodies having a racing class following the FIA's Group GT3 formula. This was done to allow a car to be raced in multiple series with no changes.
(drag racing) Good traction between tires and track resulting in increased acceleration and reduced slipping or smoking of tires.
(See Flying Lap.)
a chassis manufacturer's research and development car
Typically used in context to pack racing; a car that pulls out of the "draft train" to make a pass or avoid a potential incident, but ends up losing many positions due to having no "pushers". Numerous cars drafting closely together will drive faster than one car by itself. The lone car hung out to dry sometimes falls all the way to the end of the draft train. Also known as "freight-trained", or when hung out in the middle of two lines of cars, is said to be "in the sucker hole".
Excessive fuel entering (flooding) one or more cylinders due to abnormal operating conditions. The fuel can not be compressed, causing damage to the motor. Most common in drag racing. May cause the motor to grenade. May also happen if a motor ingests water through the air intake.
A tool specifically designed for rapidly winding off and on wheel nuts, allowing the changing of wheels and tyres to be performed faster during pit stops. Also known as an impactor, air wrench, air gun, rattle gun, torque gun.
Any lap which concludes with a visit to the pits, especially a pre-arranged pit stop, either during a race or during practice or qualifying. Often drivers push hard to drive fast on their in-lap (despite perhaps having worn out tires) in order to gain time during the pit stop sequence. See Delta time
Incident officer (often IO or I/O)
A motorsport marshal who is in charge of other marshals on the track, allocating duties to them. Second in rank to observer. In hillclimbing, they are responsible for the radio communication.
A competitor (team or driver) taking part with no or very little backing from a manufacturer. They have their own championship within the World Touring Car Championship, where there is a strong manufacturer presence.
A lap which can take place in practice or qualifying, which is intended simply to gain data and telemetry for the driver or team, rather than any intention of setting a competitive time.
A wet weather tyre of lighter grooving than a wet weather tyre. Sometimes an intermediate is a slick tyre with grooves cut into it. It is used for conditions between dry and wet conditions, most often when the track is wet but it is not actually raining.
In Australia and New Zealand midget and sprint car racing, the time generally between December and February. Because of Australia being in the Southern Hemisphere, some drivers in North America will fly down to Australia during the time and participate in various meetings before the World of Outlaws season starts in Barberville, Florida in February. The recognised International Season typically runs from Christmas Day (because of the time difference, it usually is Christmas night in the United States where the international drivers are based, when the Boxing Day races start), until the week before the Barberville meeting. The most notable races on the international season there include Australian Speedweek at various Australian tracks starting on Boxing Day and the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic in January. Some notable US-based stars will race at specific tracks during the time, often drawing huge crowds.
The portion of the field which is started by reverse qualifying speed. With an invert of five, the fifth-fastest qualifier starts first and the fastest qualifier starts fifth. The rest of the field starts by their qualifying speed (sixth fastest starts sixth). The invert is often not announced before qualifying or a dice/die roll happens after qualifying.
In drag racing, when driver's reaction time (when they leave the start line) is seven thousandths of a second after the green light (.007). A "James Bond Red" is a reaction time of -.007 seconds (red light), which is disqualification unless the opponent commits a more serious violation.
A helicopter turbine engine or small airplane jet engine mounted on a pickup truck or trailer. The exhaust from the engine is used to blow debris or evaporate moisture from the racing surface.
In Rallycross events each vehicle must run a lap with a detour once during each single race. In events overseen by the FIA, such as the FIA World Rallycross Championship, this lap must be at least two seconds slower, therefore, the alternative route makes the lap longer. In the American Global Rallycross series the Joker Lap is usually a bit shorter than a lap on the original track. The Joker Lap idea was thought up as a tactical component by Svend Hansen, the late father of 14-times FIA European Rallycross Champion Kenneth Hansen, to spice up the competition.
In a standing start, when a vehicle moves from its grid slot before the start of a race is signaled. In a rolling start, when a car passes before they cross the start-finish line or the restart line. When this is done, a penalty is usually imposed. In drag racing, a jump start is signalled by a red light in the offending driver's lane, and they lose unless a more serious foul (boundary line or failure to report to post-race inspection after a round win) occurs.
To clip, or drive over completely, the concrete kerbs (curbs) on the inside of a corner. While often the fastest method of negotiating chicanes in particular, the practice is usually frowned upon by race officials for the damage it can do to the kerbs, tyres and vehicles. The practice also can drag debris or water from behind the kerb onto the racing line.
Kinetic Energy Recovery System. A device which recovers energy created when brakes are applied and stores it until required to add power in the engine. In 2008 KERS systems started to appear in the World Rally Championship and Formula One followed soon after, where its application is limited to a push to pass system.
(drag racing) refers to a turbo kit or a nitrous kit. Using nitrous oxide in the professional categories in drag racing is illegal.
Informal term with two possible meanings. It is either a nickname for a gravel trap, or for a material applied to the track surface to clean up a leaking fluid.
Generally refers to a category or series of lesser importance which in most cases will race at the same race meeting as a senior category. Cars will be generally similar in characteristic to drive but will be smaller, less powerful and/or slower. Competitors will generally be younger emerging drivers who are climbing an apprenticeship 'ladder' towards entry into the senior series.
Fuel to air ratio readings, used to determine how much fuel is pushed through the fuel injectors into the cylinders for combustion.
Lap of honour
A non-competitive lap taken before or after the race by a driver in celebration. Also known as a lap of honor, or, if after the race, a victory lap.
Fastest race lap recorded at a circuit for a category of race car. The circumstances allowed vary significantly, but practice laps are generally not considered official records. Laps recorded in qualifying may or may not contribute but are sometimes referred together with practice laps as Qualifying lap record. The outright lap record is the fastest race lap ever recorded at any particular circuit, regardless of category of vehicle being raced.
The paint colors and decals applied to a vehicle to mark its sponsorship or team identity.
A sign on a stick used in pit stops, which is held in front of the car and raised when the pit stop is completed. Though the same basic device is utilized in NASCAR and IndyCar, generic terms such as pit board or sign board are preferred as the sign is not round, but sometimes square, and often is in a specific design unique to the driver or team (such as Kevin Harvick's happy face logo, or a team's number stylised as it fits on the car). In addition, in NASCAR & IndyCar, the sign is usually only used for the driver to locate their pit box. It is pulled back, and not normally used to signal departure as it is in Formula One.
Pieces of rubber from tires that accumulate on the racing surface outside of the racing line that are slippery like toy marbles.
A person responsible for signaling track conditions to drivers (through use of flags), extinguishing fires, removing damaged cars from the track and sometimes providing emergency first aid.
A specific racing flag used in some countries to indicate to a competitor there is a defect with the car which has the potential to cause a safety risk to the competitor or to another competitor. Most usually applied to trailing smoke or loose bodywork. The flag is black with a large orange dot in the centre of the flag, looking vaguely like a meatball. Some racing series use this flag to indicate the car being flagged is no longer being scored, due to ignoring orders to pit because of a rules infraction.
(drag racing) refers to methanol injection used in conjunction with racing gasoline
A pejorative term for a corner or series of corners on a circuit that are thought to be poorly designed, slow, uncompetitive, uninteresting, and usually difficult or near impossible to overtake through, which detract from the overall challenge of the course. In some cases where the entire course is deemed poorly designed, it can be referred to as a "Mickey Mouse track."
Disparaging slang. A competitor noticeably slower than the front running pace, so slow as to be a 'chicane that moves around the track'.
Increasingly common nickname for an extreme weather version of the wet weather tyre.
A tag given to the mid-south of England by the Motorsport Industry Association where high concentration of activities within the motorsport industry on and off track occur.
(mainly North American) term for large-displacement engines, often used in hot rods and drag racers. Named for their size (over 8,100 cubic centimetres, or 500 cubic inches, the limit in some sanctioning bodies), and for being constructed in the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina.
(drag racing) refers to Nitrous Oxide systems manufactured by a wide range of companies.
Not classified (often NC)
A driver was racing at the end of the race, but did not complete the required distance to be classified.
The highest ranking trackside marshal within the post; the main decision maker at the event of an incident, they relay information to the race control. Can be seen standing in the marshal post. Second to Chief Marshal.
(drag racing) When a car's engine or lubrication breaks during a run, leaving a streak of oil and other fluids on the track. This is punishable by fines, point penalties, and/or suspension.
Racing equipment that must be identical for all competitors, usually to cut down on costs or for business purposes by car manufacturers. Known in North America as spec, specific parts can be spec, as in the IndyCar Series' spec engine, or the type of car can be spec, as in spec racing series such as Spec Miata.
Gaining time or position by braking harder and deeper in a corner.
The first lap to be completed after exiting the pit lane, either during a race or during practice or qualifying. Also known as a reconnaissance lap if it is not taken at race speed, e.g. when a car leaves the pit lane to take up its position on the grid prior to the race start.
Outright lap record
Fastest lap recorded at a circuit of any category of race car. Most often this does not include qualifying and practice laps but confusingly some sources[specify] occasionally include laps not recorded during races.
(drag racing) The ratio between the revolutions of the supercharger to the revolutions of the engine, controlling amount of boost; see underdrive.
Overpowering the track
A drag racing term used when talking about a run when the driver loses traction. It is normally used to talk about the actions of the team crew chief.
An area which cars enter after they have qualified for the race, where they are not allowed to be worked upon by mechanics unless on strict supervision by the stewards. Some motorsports series other than Formula One refer to this as the Impound.
A driver who pays for their race seat rather than receiving a salary from the team. Generally has a negative connotation. Sometimes known as a Ride Buyer.
(drag racing) where both cars break traction and the drivers have to work the throttle to get the car to regain traction, but keep the car going fast enough to win the race.
(drag racing) working the throttle to avoid lighting the tires, or as a way to sandbag; "pedalled" it, had to "pedal" it.
A finish in which two or more cars are so close that in times past a photograph of the finishers crossing the finish line would need to be studied to determine the finishing order. While the practice has been mostly superseded by modern electronic timing systems, the location of the transponder in a vehicle is not located near the nose of the vehicle, so stewards often use video replays to detect where the nose (of a car) or wheel (of a motorcycle) crosses the finish line first.
A board that is held up from the pit wall to the side of the finishing straight when a driver goes past, to confirm their position in the race and the number of laps remaining. Before the introduction of radio communication, also used to instruct drivers to pit for fuel and/or tires, or to comply with rules violations.
The first grid position, placed closest to the starting line (in Formula One), nearest the inside of the first turn, or both. Usually reserved for the competitor who has recorded the fastest lap during qualifying. A competitor who starts a race there is said to be on the pole.
Was started by Alan Kulwicki which is a reverse victory lap.
Popping the blower
(Drag Racing) When an intake valve hangs open, allowing the igniting fuel in the combustion chamber to leave the chamber. This, in turn, causes the fuel in the intake manifold to explode, blowing the blower off the top of the motor.
A preliminary qualifying session held prior to a regular qualifying session in order to reduce the number of competitors taking part in the regular session, usually for safety reasons. An example of pre-qualifying is in Formula One in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
An endurance sports racing car that does not noticeably look like a standard production model.
An informal "puke can". Though some form is mandatory, this type is illegal at some tracks.
(drag racing) radiator overflow tank, sometimes, used beer cans are used as puke cans, although, on some tracks, these types of modifications are considered illegal. A standard puke can is usually made of plastic, or some high strength polymer, and attached close to the radiator.
Pulling an Eckman
A term in drag racing, particularly in Pro Stock, when a driver is cited, and fined for racing with a nitrous oxide system; driver Jerry Eckman was the first driver in the NHRA to be indefinitely suspended for such an infraction; he was reinstated after two years.
Push to pass
System in which engine power is increased for short periods to create a short burst of extra speed. This can be done by increasing the boost pressure in a turbocharged car, increasing the maximum rpm, or using a separate system to provide power. Also, see KERS.
Put on the trailer
When a driver has either lost (got "put on the trailer") or won (put the other driver on the trailer). Named because losing drivers pull their vehicle home on a trailer.
The process of deciding the starting order of a race. See also pre-qualifying.
Quick 8 (often Q8)
(drag racing) Quickest eight cars in a defined race. Rules appear to can differ per location/race.
Abbreviation for "Reaction Time". In drag racing, it refers to the time it takes for a driver to leave the starting line after the green light. This time can mean the difference between a win and loss, especially in closely matched races.
An official appointed by a series organiser who holds ultimate authority over race operations throughout every event of a championship. The race director is the senior official present, and controls the activities of the local Clerk of the Course and marshals and the other staff appointed by the series. When appointed, they hold the responsibility of deploying the safety car and starting and stopping sessions.
When a race is delayed or cancelled due to rain, or the threat of rain.
Rail (or rail job)
dragster (as distinct from bodied car or flopper). From the exposed frame rails of early cars. Usually refers to early short-wheelbase cars.
Rail (drag racing)
In a practice lap, to rev the engine as far as possible without changing gears to allow engine management systems to take Lambda readings of the fuel to air ratio across a smooth engine revolution range.
See Impact Wrench.
A system by which the suspension is controlled by computer to maintain an optimum distance above the racing surface, regardless of forces acting upon the car and changes in the racing surface, thus maximising the aerodynamic assistance that can be gained by running the car close to the ground. Developed originally by Team Lotus in Formula One.
(drag racing) a.k.a. bulb(ed)--jump(ed) the start, left before tree turned green. This is a loss unless a more serious (opponent crossing the center boundary line) foul occurs.
A driver who fills in for another driver in case of injury, or during a race because of exhaustion or pain.
The race is started again after a caution or other condition that stopped the race. In the case of a restart from a caution period on an oval track and most road courses, this is accomplished by the safety car pulling off the track, the green flag/light being displayed, and cars simply accelerating back to race speeds.
Retirement (often Ret)
see Did Not Finish.
Reverse grid racing
when the starting order of a race is reversed, so that the driver on pole position, starts last. Occasionally reverse grid is limited to only part of the grid, for example, just the top ten positions may be reversed. Often used to increase the entertainment value of a race, mainly used when a category races several times over the course of a meeting. In midget and sprint car racing, heat races may be run as reverse grid races with a points system that gives points for cars passed as well as finishing points. At the end of the heat races, the combined total of passing and finishing points are used to determine the starting grid for the A Main, and which drivers are sent to lower events.
an early term for a co-driver.
see wheel shroud
Concrete kerb, usually placed on the inside of a corner, painted in chunks of colour, usually red and white alternately, hence the 'ripple'.
(NASCAR) A driver who generally competes only on road courses as a substitute for a team's primary driver. Such drivers are no longer used by top teams in the Sprint Cup Series due to competition changes in the 21st century, but are still frequently used by lower-tier Cup teams and teams in other NASCAR series.
Network of metal bars that criss-cross the interior of production-based sedan-bodied racing cars. Originally created as a safety device in more recent times it has been used to connect suspension, chassis, engine to substantially increase the torsional rigidity of a race car.
Looped bar protruding above and behind the drivers helmets in open wheel and prototype sports racing cars. The hoop is placed that in the event of a car rolling over in a crash the car lands on the roll hoop rather than the drivers helmet. It also makes a handy hook for cranes for removing stopped cars from dangerous positions on the circuit.
an aerodynamic piece designed to keep a car on the ground when it is traveling in reverse.
Variation of ripple strip with an upward-pointed, rounded saw-tooth edge. The saw-tooth effect is to discourage competitors from kerb-hopping. The saw-tooth creates a rumble sound and feel for the competitor when driven over.
In off-road racing, the act of accelerating quickly in a corner to kick up dirt, dust, and rocks, usually in an effort to temporarily blind a trailing driver.
To gain a competitive advantage by deliberately underperforming at an event.
An area at the very end of a dragstrip to slow down and stop vehicles that have gone off the track, it is filled with, as the name implies, sand. The design of the sandtrap is intentional, and used as a safety device.
A second racing team either operated by or in partnership with a larger team but maintaining a separate identity. The team may share vehicles and technology with the main operation, or may develop the careers of upcoming drivers, such as Scuderia AlphaTauri.
A bellhousing or external shield surrounding a bellhousing, and designed to contain metal fragments in the event of clutch and/or flywheel failure. The term also refers a metal shield intended to contain fragments in case of catastrophic transmission failure.
A type of race which competitors start on an equal term.
Also known as the Bubba Scrub; a jump technique in motocross in which the rider transfer their weight to the bike sideways at the face of the jump for a lower trajectory which decreases time spent in the air.
A qualified official who examines racing vehicles pre-race for compliance with the rules of competition, usually in a scrutineering bay adjacent to the pit lane.
Tires which have been used limitedly, but are not worn out. Scuffs may be put on a car during a pit stop to improve handling. At times, brand new tires may be 'scuffed in' before a race by practicing in them for a lap or two. (See "Sticker tires")
A section of one complete lap of the circuit used for timing purposes. For the purposes of Formula One, each circuit is split into three sectors.
A motorsport application, created initially by Scuderia Ferrari for Formula One, in which the driver can change gears manually, but without having to manually activate the clutch. On open wheel race cars it is usually activated by paddles immediately behind the steering wheel, although touring cars and rally usually place the gear shifter as a gear stick in the more conventional position on the centre console, but occasionally is mounted as a stalk off the steering column, when activated, automatically engages the clutch and changes the gear and releases the clutch without any further input from the driver.
Semi feature, B-main, Qualifier
A qualifying race before the main event, where non-qualified cars compete for a predetermined number of spots in the main event. Some races have a C-main where the top finisher(s) qualify for the B-main. At those events, the main event is known as the "A-main".
A technique used, primarily in motorsport, to regain control of a car through a high speed corner. Involves the driver shifting up a gear earlier than usual.
A crash. Usually side to side contact.
In drag racing, it is the extra 440 yards from the finish line, to the sand trap, used to safely shut down the car, and turn it off the track, so the next racers can begin their race.
The Sauber C24 Formula 1 car with the right "sidepod" highlighted.
Aerodynamic device to improve airflow between front and rear wheels on open wheel racing car which also covers ancillary equipment within car, most often water radiators which are air cooled by ram scoops at the open front of the sidepods.
Crew members grooving a tire
The period near and after the conclusion of the racing season in which teams and drivers may begin preparing to make changes for the upcoming season. Potential changes at a team may be new or different drivers, sponsors, engines/chassis, team personnel, adding or eliminating cars. Rumors often run rampant during the early stages of Silly season. In some rare cases, teams may actually implement the planned changes during Silly season rather than wait until the start of the new season. Such a move may give them a head start on the upcoming season, and/or may alleviate "lame duck" situations.
To use a razor blade to cut a tire's thread causing the rubber to break off. Grooving or Cutting a tire means to use a tool to add additional grooves to a tire to adjust handling for a track.
Metal plates, most commonly titanium, fixed to the bottom of flat bottomed racing cars on the undertray facing the racing surface, put there to protect the undertray from ground strikes tearing through the undertray. Today less common as racing cars usually are mandated to have a ground clearance that is less critical to hitting the track.
see traction bar.
In truck and tractor pulling, an implement pulled behind the machine which uses friction to stop the machine.
Late model stock cars on a slick dirt track
Slick (clay oval)
A phenomenon caused by the drying out of the clay surface on short circuit oval tracks. The clay circuits that do not maintain a minimum percentage of moisture on the track surface will cause the clay to dry out. This problem will cause the rubber of the specialized clay circuit tires to prematurely wear much in the same way asphalt or concrete paved circuits do, giving the track surface a noticeably black shade.
A tyre with no tread pattern, maximising the amount of tyre rubber in contact with the racing surface. A specialist motor racing application as in wet weather conditions these tyres have little resistance to aquaplaning.
Especially in dirt oval racing, a passing car dives low into a corner, deliberately oversteers in front of the vehicle being passed in an attempt to slow their momentum. The vehicle being passed often attempts to pass back by steering low coming out of the corner down the following straightaway.
front-engined dragster, named for the driving position behind the rear wheels (erroneously attributed to launch speed).
A car following close behind another uses the slipstream created by the lead car to close the gap between them or pass it. Same as drafting.
Smoking the tires
Also called Lighting the hides, or Blowing the tires off. A term used mostly in drag racing when a loss of traction occurs, causing the rear tires to rise, and smoke profusely. This usually happens off the starting line. When this happens during a race, it usually results in a loss, unless the opponent also loses traction as well.
Spare car, Backup car
A car used by a driver if they have damaged their main car. It may or may not have the same setup as the primary car. Now banned in Formula One for cost-cutting reasons, though teams in many other major racing series have a spare car available at the track. At Indianapolis, it is traditionally called a "T Car" ("T" loosely short for "training")
Also referred to as the front Spoiler, Front Air Dam, or Diffuser. Aerodynamic device placed on the nose of some touring cars and GTs to improve airflow around the nose of the car and sometimes create downforce for the front wheels to aid steering. It is prominent on NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow body style.
Aerodynamic device attached to the trailing edge of a race car to increase its rear downforce. The difference between a spoiler and a wing is that wings are generally multi-element with air passing both above and below the aerodynamic surface, whereas a spoiler is flush fitted to the car's bodywork.
a person, positioned high above the circuit, who communicates what is going on the track to the driver
A single-car event against the clock. Can be held over a stretch of road similar to hillclimbing, or may be held over one or more laps of a circuit, similar to time attack. The term may also refer to relatively short races, to distinguish from endurance races.
A team or driver who qualifies and starts a race but only runs a small number of laps to avoid using up resources (tires, parts, pit crew, etc...). The start and park will intentionally drop out of the race, placing last or near to last, but still collect the corresponding prize money and championship points.
The adjudicator or referee at a race meeting who interprets incidents and decides whether penalties or fines should be issued.
Brand new tires put on a race car. Nicknamed "sticker tires" because the manufacturer's labels are still visible. (Opposite of "Scuffs")
The period a driver is at the wheel in an event involving more than one driver in the vehicle. Sometimes refers to the period of driving between pit stops.
A penalty assessed to a driver for an on-track infraction that requires them to enter their pit box (or in some cases a special penalty pit box) and come to a complete stop before resuming. No work is allowed to be done on the car during the penalty, even if it is being served in the driver's own pit box. Doing work on the car would negate the serving of the penalty, and the penalty would have to be re-served the next time around. In some cases, the car is held in the box for a specified number of seconds before being allowed to resume. Sometimes called a Stop and go penalty. Since the early/mid-1990s, this penalty has seen less use, and is instead typically replaced by the Drive-through penalty. The drive-through penalty requires a driver to enter and drive through the pit road (below the pit road speed limit), before returning to the track. When pit lane speed limits became standard in motorsport in the early 1990s, the drive-through penalty was deemed sufficient, while stop-go penalties (when coupled with the now slow pit speed limits) were now considered excessive.
Stripe or Strip
The start/finish line.
Struck the tires
(drag racing) loss of traction, causing them to smoke.
A method used to level performance between competitors by adding weight to cars that win races or are successful. Sometimes referred to as Lead trophy as the usage of lead bars is most popular in applying the additional weight.
Superpole, or Shootout
A selection procedure in which the ten or 15 fastest qualifiers compete for grid positions in a single-lap effort without other vehicles on the track. While not specifically referenced, most NASCAR races will use this style of qualifying for all cars.
A race(s) that takes place before and/or after the main event race. It may also be held during a qualifying day, and is often used to provide a fuller weekend of track activity. It is normally a race from a lower or "ladder" series, is usually shorter in duration, and in some cases might feature some moonlighting drivers from the main event. It is analogous to undercard in other sports.
When a rally driver retires on any day, except the last, they can continue the next day incurring penalties for the stages they did not drive, including the one they retired on. Currently, in World Rally Championship, a driver will be given the time of the fastest driver of their class, plus a five-minute-penalty for each missed stage.
Timed special stage in a rally on a purpose-built track, often in a stadium. Usually two cars will set off at the same time in separate lanes, and at the halfway point of the stage they will swap lanes, usually due to a crossover involving a bridge. A similar format is used in the Race of Champions.
(from Sidecar racing) A passenger on a racing motorcycle sidecar who athletically moves from one side of the sidecar to the other, altering a sidecar's weight distribution to assist in cornering speed and in some corners to prevent the sidecar from tipping over.
A collision in which the front of a car crashes into the side of another car, forming a "T" shape. This is one of the more dangerous types of crash due to the relative vulnerability of side impacts where there is much less deformable structure on the side of a car to protect the driver. Also, to crash into another car in such a fashion; the victim is "T-boned".
When the front wheel of a motorcycle oscillates rapidly, causing the handlebars to slap against the fuel tank. It is increasingly being used to refer to a vehicle that loses traction at the rear, regains traction and loses it again, causing the rear to weave side to side independently of the front of the car. This is more often referred to as fish-tailing.
The practice of one driver allowing another from the same team or manufacturer to gain a higher finish at the direction of the team management. Often employed to prevent the risk of an accident resulting in damage to both of a team's cars. The practice was briefly forbidden in Formula One as a consequence of the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix controversy. U.S.-based series (NASCAR, IndyCar, etc.) rarely if ever have used team orders, and the practice is widely frowned upon due to sportsmanship issues and fan backlash.
A management position within many series responsible for overall management of the team, including its drivers, production, strategy, and operations.
thin plastic sheets that drivers stack up over their visor or windshield for visibility. Drivers (or pit crews) tear one off after it becomes dirty.
a device used by sanctioning body officials to check the body shape and height of racing vehicles
Refers to driving a car to its absolute potential.
In offshore powerboat racing, the boat's second occupant who work alongside the driver, whose role is to steer the boat. The throttleman's position is to adjust the trim tab whilst observing water conditions and extract as much speed out of the boat by controlling the hand-throttle during a race whilst it hops over tides after tides to prevent the propellers from spinning wildly whilst the boat is airborne, which causes the engine to overrev, leading to engine damage.
Throw a belt
(drag racing) losing the drive belt connecting the engine's crankshaft to the supercharger.
A competition which involves cars running around the circuit in lieu of a qualifying lap.
Instead of running a predetermined number of laps, a race runs for a predetermined amount of time (i.e. 24 Hours of Le Mans). This is common in endurance racing, although series such as Formula 1 have a limit on how long a race can be run (Usually two hours), which means that a race may be ended after the time limit expires but before the predetermined number of laps is run.
A term in drag racing, when the engine is putting out more horsepower than the drive axle can handle, causing the rear tires to shake violently. This results in a loss of speed, and can also result in loss of steering, and occasionally, lead to on track accidents. Referred to in other disciplines sometimes as axle tramp.
(drag racing) finish line of strip; high part of engine's rev band.
A term referring either to the best performance of any athlete on a certain track, or to the history of a certain racer's past performance.
(drag racing) rear struts fixed to rear axle to keep rear axle from twisting, which causes wheel hop and loss of traction; also called slapper bars. In FWD cars, commonly import drag racing, used to keep front wheels in the ground.
Cornering behaviour where the front wheels do not follow the steered course but instead push out toward the outside of the turn. Known as push in NASCAR and other stock car racing. Opposite of oversteer.
Flat or stepped flat surface on the bottom of open wheel and sports prototype racing cars. Theory has varied along with aerodynamic developments and regulations, from the sidepod tunnels of ground effect to the flat undertrays of the 1980s in various attempts to use aerodynamics to suck the cars closer to the bitumen, minimising the air underneath the car that could slow its progress. Today most such categories feature a stepped undertray with sidepods siting higher in the air than the centre of the car, usually mandated by series organisers in an attempt to limit vehicle performance. Also refers to flat surfaces extending behind splitters in sedan and GT based racing cars.
A lap, after the conclusion of the race, where the winning racer drives at reduced speed to celebrate their victory.
In the NHRA, The Wally is the nickname of the trophy that is earned by the winner of an event, the nickname refers to the founder of the NHRA, Wally Parks.
A slower car, usually found at the rear of the grid. It is sometimes a derogatory term.
Device attached to turbochargers used to limit the additional horsepower they produce. Usually a mechanical device, activated when the pressure within the turbocharger reaches a certain point, opening a valve, thus reducing boost pressure. Used primarily for safety (speed reduction of the racing cars) or cost (reducing stress on both turbo and engine, lengthening the life of the parts prior to failure or rebuild). Not to be confused with a Blow-Off Valve.
Wear the shiny off
A term used, mostly within drag racing, when a brand new car either hits the wall, or, in the Pro Stock class, when a new car flips over into its top and continues down the track for a considerable length, peeling the paint, or more common in recent years, vinyl wrap, off.
A technique used to reduce understeer. This involves the driver decelerating through a corner to shift the weight of the car from the back to the front, increasing grip of the front tyres and decreasing understeer.
Wet (or wet-weather) tyre
A racing tyre with deep grooves designed to displace standing water, allowing the tyre to obtain grip in conditions where dry weather tyres (slicks) would aquaplane. Monsoon wet has become a term used for extremely wet conditions.
When the wheels of two different race cars slightly collide during an overtaking manoeuvre.
(drag racing) violent shaking of the car as the tires lose and regain traction in quick succession.
also known as aero cover or rim blanking. A wheel cover designed to distribute airflow to the brakes, thereby generate downforce. Saw common use in the Group C era, Indycar up to 1993 when banned and in F1 between 2006 and 2009.
When the rear tyres (or front tyres in the case of a front wheel drive vehicle) break traction with the racing surface under acceleration, spinning the wheels faster than they move across the surface. On higher traction surfaces like bitumen the tyre will begin to shred and melt from the friction, producing white smoke.
wheelie. In drag racing, an extreme case, with front wheels very near vertical.
In drag racing, an exhibition car designed to complete a pass in a wheelstand (wheels near vertical)
A motocross technique in which the rider pitch their bike sideways and reposition themselves for the landing whilst airborne.
See Gurney flap.
Aerodynamic device on many racing cars. The principle is the same as an aircraft wing except in motor racing applications the wing is inverted to create downforce instead of lift, pressing the car onto the road surface to increase traction.
Wired to the tree
A drag racing term for a racer that consistently beats their opponent off the starting line. Also called Chopping down the Christmas Tree.
Suspension control arm with three points, shaped roughly like a chicken wishbone.
A motor racing team supported by a vehicle manufacturer, usually run in-house at the manufacturer's premises. A works driver is a driver who drives for the works team.
A term derived when the final lap(s) in a race is completed during a full course yellow while the field is under the control of the Safety Car. In this instance the yellow and chequered flags are waved together and the race is declared finished with the order the same as when the full course yellow began. Unpopular with spectators because of the anti-climactic nature of the finish, the possibility does make some senior race officials hesitate to use it late in the race, call a red flag to allow for further cleanup of the circuit to ensure a final restart (which is often used anyway for severe debris incidents, especially with carbon fibre), or direct to slow the safety car in order that the hazard may be cleared in time for a competitive race finish. INDYCAR has a Yellow chequer rule, and NASCAR allows it (1) if a race is shortened because of curfew or darkness, (2) if the race is already on its final lap when the yellow must be waved, or (3) if there is a yellow implemented after the leader crosses the "overtime line" (usually located on the backstretch) during a valid green-white-checkered finish once the race has restarted. In Formula One, when there is a yellow chequer, the safety car will not lead the leader to the finish line, unlike INDYCAR and NASCAR.
Used in rallying. Prior to the rally cars running over a special stage several official vehicles run through the course to check for safety, conditions of the road, to see if spectators or animals may be a hazard or for obstructions. Sometimes there are a triple zero (000) and double zero (00) as well as the zero. Zero cars travel the course immediately ahead of the competitors and are usually rally cars themselves.
Also known as "cutting a zero," and a "zero R.T." Used in drag racing when someone leaves the starting line at the exact moment when the light turns green (.000). Very difficult to achieve, due to the quick flashing of the lights on a Pro tree.