Track Terms-Learn the Lingo
ďThe car checked out fine in the dyno, but it might not make any difference with all that bear grease on the track. Throw in some dirty air, and all you can do is hope the scuffs will help the machine run flat-out.Ē To the serious race fan, this statement makes perfect sense. It translates to a car going through a dynamometer, which measures and engineís horsepower, racing on a track that has utilized patching material to fill cracks and holes (bear grease), and trying to make it through the turbulent air currents caused by fast-moving cars (dirty air) on tires that have been used at least once (scuffs) while racing as fast as possible (flat-out). Here is
a short lesson in racing lingo for the first-time fan.
Apron -In racing an apron is the paved area directly below the racing surface that separates the track from the infield.
Banking- In racing terms, the slope of a track from the wall to the apron, generally measured in the corners.
Bite- Bite is a carís ability to "stick," or adhere, to the track.
Caution- A period in racing in which track conditions are too hazardous for racing due to an accident or debris on the racing surface.
Chassis- Simply a fancy name for the steel structure or frame of the car.
Chute- A racetrack straightaway. When drivers head down the backstretch at Talladega, theyíre going through the chute.
Dialed in- When a carís performing at its maximum. Also called "hooked up."
Downforce- A combination of aerodynamic and centrifugal force. The more downforce, the more grip the car has. But more downforce also means more drag.
Drafting- The practice of following immediately behind another car to take advantage of the lead carís "punching a hole" in the wind.
Drag- The resistance a car experiences when passing through air at high speeds. A resisting force exerted on a car parallel to its airstream and opposite in direction to its motion.
Firewall- A solid metal plate that separates the engine compartment from the driverís compartment of a racecar.
Groove- The best route around a racetrack. The high groove takes a car closer to the outside wall for most of a lap, while the low groove takes a car closer to the apron.
Handling- A reference to a racecarís performance with relation to the driverís ability to control it. Suspension, tires and air flow all contribute.
Happy Hour- Itís the last official practice session held before the main race.
Head wrench- Slang for a race teamís crew chief. Tony Eury, Sr. is the head wrench for the 8 car.
Loose - A handling condition in which the carís rear end wants to go straight or right (up the banking) when the car is turned to the left. Also called oversteer.
Marbles- Believe it or not, marbles in racing are loose debris, such as rubber and asphalt, that collect on the track and cause a car to lose traction.
Pace cars- The official car that leads competitors at a safe speed during caution periods and restarts.
Pit road- The paved roadway that leads into the pit area.
Restrictor plate- A plate attached to the carburetor that limits the amount of airflow entering the combustion chamber.
Running on Rails- Used to describe a car that is handling perfectly, as if it was literally attached to a rail.
Splash íní go- A quick pit stop that involves putting some fuel in the car and getting out of the pits as quickly as possible.
Slingshot- Racecar drivers, say a slingshot is a maneuver in which the driver of the trailing vehicle in a draft line breaks the draft by turning (usually to the left if on an oval track), propelling the car around the leader.
Stagger- The difference in the circumference of the tires on the right and left sides of the car. Since oval track racing is always done turning left, teams put larger tires on the right to help the car naturally turn left.
Stickers- Slang for new tires. The name comes from the manufacturerís ďstickersĒ that are pasted on the tireís surface.
Tight- On the track, itís a handling condition in which the carís front end wants to go straight when the wheel is turned left. Also called understeer or push.
Trading paint- A term used to describe aggressive driving involving bumping and rubbing.