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Glossary

A

ACTIVE DIFFERENTIAL
Computer-controlled differential used in World Rally that distributes engine's power to those tires with best grip to maximize performance.
AERO
Abbreviation commonly used when referring to the all-important science of aerodynamics.
AERO PUSH
When following another vehicle closely, the airflow off the lead vehicle does not travel across the following one(s) in a normal manner. Therefore, downforce on the front of the trailing vehicle(s) is decreased and it does not turn in the corners as well, resulting in an "aero push." This condition is more apparent on the exit of the turns.
AERODYNAMIC DRAG
A number that is a coefficient of several factors that indicates how well a race vehicle will travel through the air with how much resistance. Crewmen work to get the best "drag horsepower" rating they can, determining how much horsepower it will take to move a vehicle through the air at a certain mile-per-hour rate. At faster speedways teams strive to get the lowest drag number possible for higher straightaway speeds.
AERODYNAMICS
The science of understanding different forces acting on a moving element in gasses such as air. The application of this study to racing is credited with much of the sport's recent progress as teams learn more about drag, air turbulence and downforce.
AIR FOIL
In NHRA racing, the same as a wing - a stabilizer, generally used to create downforce, which increases stability and tire-to-track adherence at high speeds.
AIR PRESSURE
Mechanics can adjust a car's handling by increasing or decreasing air pressure in the tires. Flex in the sidewall of a tire acts like another spring in the suspension. Increasing the air pressure makes the overall spring rate stiffer, while lowering the pressure will make it softer. This adjustment can be made much more quickly and easily than changing a spring on a shock.
AIR WRENCH
This tool uses compressed air to quickly remove wheel nuts on contact. A crew member proficient with the air wrench can save a team valuable seconds on a pit stop. Also referred to as an air gun or impact gun.
ANGLE OF ATTACK
The angle of an Indy car style wing, the angle is varied from track to track to produce optimal downforce and minimize drag.
ANTI-LAG
World Rally electronic engine management program that reduces the normal delay in turbocharger response to a minimum.
ANTI-ROLL BAR
A bar linking suspension parts which can be adjusted to alter handling characteristics to compensate for tire wear and varying fuel loads.
APEX
Often heard in oval track racing, the apex is the geometric inside center point in a corner where a car is closest to the inside edge of the track. Drivers try to hit the apex to take the straightest line and maintain maximum speed. See also early apex and late apex.
ARMCO BARRIER
Similar to a highway guardrail, this corrugated steel crash barrier is designed to prevent a vehicle from leaving a race track or race course. AK Steel Holding, formerly known as Armco, now produces the barrier.
ASPHALT SETTINGS
The suspension adjustments made to optimise the handling of a World Rally car for smooth surfaced special stages.
ATMO ENGINE
Engine that uses natural, atmospheric air flow as opposed to forced induction. Used by NASCAR and NHRA Pro Stock cars while NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car engines use forced induction.

B

BACK OUT
When a driver takes his foot off the gas pedal (all the way or part way), he "backs out" or "lifts off."
BACKMARKER
Cars running near the back of the field.
BALACLAVA
Fire resistant headgear worn under a helmet by a driver to protect their face and neck.
BANKING
On oval tracks, the corners are often tilted inward to provide faster speeds. On some road courses, certain turns may actually be banked outward, a very difficult type of corner known as "off-camber."
BITD
Abbreviation of Best in the Desert, an off-road racing series in the Western United States.
BLACK BOX
Unlike those recording devices in airplanes, a race car's black box contains high-tech electrical systems, which control most engine functions. More technically referred to as the Engine Electronic Controls, the Engine Control Unit or the Engine Management System.
BLACK FLAG
Flag waved by the starter to signal a driver that they must immediately report to the pits for consultation related to a dangerous mechanical condition or a driving infraction. Failure to heed the flag can result in exclusion from the final results of the event. This flag may also be displayed in a rolled-up manner as a warning. Corner workers may also display a black flag if the session has been halted by the display of a red flag by the starter.
BLISTER
Excessive heat can make a tire literally blister and shed rubber. Drivers can detect the problem by the resulting vibrations and risk more serious damage if they choose not to pit.
BLOCKING
Auto racing term for changing position on the track to prevent drivers behind from passing. The technique is acceptable if a car is defending position in the running order, but it is considered unsportsmanlike if lapped cars hold up more competitive cars.
BLOW UP
Irreparable engine failure ends a racer's day.
BLUE FLAG
Flag displayed by corner workers around the track to signal to a driver a faster car is either approaching (steady flag) or attempting a pass (waved flag). The driver being flagged has no obligation to do anything other than be alert, maintain the racing line and avoid intentionally obstructing the faster car.
BOOST
The amount of pressure generated by a turbocharger or supercharger on a Champ Car World Series vehicle as it forces the air/fuel mixture into a forced induction engine.
BRAKE BALANCE KNOB
Cockpit control that allows World Rally driver to alter amount of braking effort between front and rear wheels.
BRICKYARD
Nickname given to the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway because of its 3.2 million brick surface. Only three feet of this surface is now visible at the start/finish line.
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 achieve balance.
BURNED PISTON
When a cylinder in an NHRA racer runs lean (too much air in the air-to-fuel mixture) and excessive heat burns or melts the piston.
BURNOUT
Spinning the rear tires in water to heat and clean them prior to a run for better traction in NHRA races. A burnout precedes every run.

C

CAMBER
The angle that wheels are tilted inward or outward from vertical. If the top of the wheel is tilted inward, the camber is negative.
CART
Championship Auto Racing Teams Inc. acronym, the former sanctioning organization for the Champ Car World Series.
CENTER OF PRESSURE
The point on a Champ Car World Series car underwing that receives the greatest amount of airflow pressure. This measurement is critical to setting front to rear balance, especially on superspeedways.
CHASSIS
The basic structure of a race car to which all other components are attached. Champ Car World Series cars have carbon-fiber monocoque "tubs" while a NASCAR stock car has a steel tube frame chassis.
CHECKERED FLAG
Black and white checkerboard-style flag signifies the end of a race.
CHICANE
An "S"-like track configuration in NASCAR and Champ Car World Series, generally designed on a fast portion of a track to slow cars. Also referred to as "esses" or a "switchback."
CHRISTMAS TREE
Also called the Tree, it is the noticeable electronic starting device between the lanes on the starting line of NHRA races. It displays a calibrated-light countdown for each driver.
CHUNKING
A softer compound rain tire will shed pieces of rubber if a track becomes too dry.
CIRCUIT
Any race track. 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 important, points and prize money.
CLEAN AIR
When a car is running by itself on the track, it's in "clean air" because other cars do not disturb the air. Also, see dirty air.
CLIPPING
Minor contact between race cars, also often refers to hitting precisely, or "clipping," the apex of a turn.
CLOSED-WHEEL CARS
Production-based race vehicles such as NASCAR stock cars are examples of closed-wheel cars with the suspension; wheels and tires are mostly covered by the body, as opposed to open-wheel "formula" cars.
CLUTCH CAN
The bell-shaped housing, or bellhousing, used to encase the clutch and flywheel on NHRA vehicles.
CLUTCH LOCKUP
In NHRA racing, the progression of clutch-disc engagement controlled by an air-timer management system.
COCKPIT
The driver sits in this are of a race car.
COLD PITS
There is no racing activity on the track and the pits are open to people other than team members and racing officials.
COMBINATIONS
Combinations of engine, gearing, suspension, aerodynamic parts, and wheel and tire settings which teams forecast will work under varying conditions and tracks. These combinations (also known as setups) are recorded and used as baselines when teams arrive at a track.
COMPOUND
In some series, teams can choose their rubber blend for tires based on the track and weather conditions. A softer compound tire provides better traction but wears out much faster than a harder compound tire, which doesn't provide as much grip.
CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP
The equivalent of a Manufacturers' Championship, an award for the cars' builders.
CORNER WORKER
NASCAR or Champ Car World Series volunteers who staff corners to notify drivers of any dangerous situations in the area.
COSWORTH
Engine manufacturing company that has cooperatively developed racing motors with Ford for many years. Named after co-founders Mike Costain and Keith Duckworth.
CROSS-THREAD
On the NASCAR and Champ Car World Series circuits: stripping of the wheel stud threads when crew members hurriedly refasten lug nuts. This can be more devastating in Champ Car racing as each wheel has only one center nut/thread combination, which, if damaged, necessitates a pit pass before more severe consequences take place.
CTS
Abbreviation of of NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series.

D

DAG
Champ Car World Series acronym for "Data Acquisition Geek," a computer expert who maintains a team's Data Acquisition system and analyzes the data. Teams use sophisticated sensors, transmitters, computers and software to provide information regarding the car and the driver actions, or inaction. Everything from engine stress to the driver's heartbeat can be monitored. The information is analyzed to improve handling, performance and even driver technique. Data can be acquired by connecting a computer to the car or by wireless telemetry.
DEEP STAGE
To roll a few inches farther into the beams after NHRA-race staging, which causes the pre-stage lights to go out. In that position, a driver is closer to the finish line but dangerously close to a foul start.
DIALING IN
This refers to the driver and crew making setup adjustments to achieve the car's optimum handling characteristics.
DIAPER
An absorbent blanket made from ballistic material, often Kevlar that surrounds the oil pan to contain oil and parts in case of an engine explosion; required for Funny Car and Champ Car World Series cars.
DIFFUSER
The bodywork at the rear underside of the car that controls underbody airflow as it leaves the back of the car. A good diffuser generates significant downforce.
DIRTY AIR
The turbulence created in the wake of other race cars. At high speeds, following closely behind another car can disrupt downforce. A car following closely often will suffer understeer as a result.
DITCH-HOOKING
World Rally driving style which places the inside front wheel over the road-side ditch.
DNF
Did not finish.
DNQ
Did not qualify.
DNS
Did not start.
DOWNFORCE
The downward force generated as air flows around a moving object. Champ Car World Series series vehicles use wings, while NASCAR vehicles use rear-end spoilers to create downforce. The ground-effects tunnels underneath the car also provide downforce, creating a vacuum that sucks the car to the track. Increased downforce also results in increased drag, which slows a car down.
DRAFT
Airflow creates a low-pressure air pocket (or draft) behind moving objects. Most notably in NASCAR, drivers try to follow opponents closely enough to enter their draft and produce a "towing" effect known as "being in the slipstream." That's right, the car creating the draft actually pulls the pursuing driver, who can ease off the throttle and save gas.
DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP
Points are awarded at each race based on finishing position. The driver accumulating the most points by the end of the season wins the drivers' championship. A similar award system is used by most major series for a manufacturers' championship.
DROP LIMITER
Electronic device that controls suspension travel, assuring conformity to mandated limits.
DROP THE HAMMER
Means a driver puts the pedal to the metal.
DROPPED CYLINDER
When an NHRA vehicle's cylinder runs too rich (too much fuel in the air/fuel mixture) and prevents the spark plug(s) from firing.
DRY LINE
Because of more frequent driver use after rain, this clear line develops on NASCAR and Champ Car World Series tracks.
DRY WEIGHT
A car's weight without any liquids, such as gas and oil.
DYNO
A contraction of "Dynamometer," an engine-testing device used in the shop that measures power and simulates the loads and environment of a NASCAR or Champ Car World Series racing engine.

E

EARLY APEX
A driver turns into a corner early.
ECONOMY RUN
Driving slower to conserve fuel. Champ Car World Series series cars can actually manipulate air/fuel levels (less fuel, more air) to run "lean" and conserve fuel.
ECU
Engine Control Unit or Black Box.
EEC
The Electronic Engine Control unit colloquially referred to as the Black Box.
ELAPSED TIME
The time it takes an NHRA vehicle to travel from the starting line to the finish line. Also called "e.t."
ELIMINATIONS
After NHRA qualifying, vehicles race two at a time, resulting in one winner from each pair. Winners continue in tournament-style competition until one remains.
END PLATE
The vertical end piece of a wing on Champ Car World Series.
ENGINE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Another term for the Black Box.
EVOLUTION CAR
Manufacturer's improved version of rally car already homologated by FIA officials.

F

FIA
Federation Internationale de L'Automobile, the Geneva-based governing body for worldwide motorsport. Regulates and controls all the major racing and rallying activity, except events held in the United States.
FILL THE MIRRORS
A driver is pressuring another driver so feverishly that the pursuer fills the rear-view mirror.
FIRE SUIT
Fire-resistant clothing that is required apparel for drivers as well as crewmembers and anyone else in the pits during a race.
FLAGMAN
The person standing on the tower above the Start/Finish Line who controls the race with a series of flags.
FLAT SPOT
When drivers lock up brakes, they expose one area of their tires to excessive wear causing flat spots to develop. Flat spots lead to vibrations, which may require a tire stop.
FLYING FINISH
The finish line of a timed special stage, passed at full speed by the rally cars.
FORMULA CAR
Formula cars must fit within a specific set of design rules or "formula." The formulas are usually quite complex, but basic issues include minimum weight, engine displacement, vehicle dimensions, wing sizes and placement, ground-effects tunnel size and configuration, tire and wheel size, and safety considerations.
FOUL START
Indicated by a red light on the NHRA Christmas Tree when a car leaves the starting line before the green light, or starting signal.
FRESH RUBBER
A new set of tires acquired during a Pit Pass.
FUEL CELL
This gas tank for racecars is mostly borrowed from military applications for extra protection in crashes.
FULL TANK PRACTICE
Ordinarily, teams fill their fuel tanks for the last practice before a race to test handling characteristics. Before then, they practice and qualify with limited fuel to decrease weight and gain speed.
FULL-TIME RIDE OR SEAT
A full-time job for a driver. "He has a full-time ride (or seat) next year."

G

GASOLINE ALLEY
Nickname for the garage area at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
GAVE UP
Drivers use this to describe a mechanical part that fails.
GEARBOX
The transmission attached to the rear of the engine. Champ Cars have "sequential" shift patterns, which is more like a motorcycle gear change than the traditional "H" pattern on most street cars.
GOES UP THROUGH THE GEARS
Refers to a driver upshifting from the lowest to the highest gear.
GONG SHOW
Nickname given the driver talent search used by Roush Racing for its NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams. Young, aspiring NASCAR drivers are selected by Roush Racing personnel to audition in front of a panel consisting of Roush Racing NCTS experts. Elements of the audition process include a practice session where the driver assesses the chassis and makes requests to ultimately achieve the quickest and most consistent lap times. After the practice session, a 20-lap hot session takes place and the driver that shows the most improvement and knowledge not only behind the wheel, but also with adjusting setups, will be considered for the next open seat within the program.

Past winners include Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle.

GOT UNDER
A NASCAR or Champ Car World Series driver out-brakes an opponent on the inside of a turn and makes a pass.
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 race.
GRAVEL CARS
Term used to describe manufacturers' special World Rally cars - regardless of event surface - sent through stages one hour before the stage start to report news of weather and surface conditions. (Ice Notes Crews are gravel cars for winter events.)
GRAVEL SETTINGS
The suspension adjustments made to optimize the handling of a rally car for rough surfaced special stages.
GROUND EFFECTS
Aerodynamically designed parts, which are fitted to the lower areas of a car to create additional downforce. Many production car owners add ground effects more for style than function.
GURNEY FLAP
A vertical extension to the back edge of an Indy car wing invented by racing legend Dan Gurney to generate more downforce, especially at higher angles of attack. This device is usually made of metal, aluminum or carbon fiber and is also known as a wickerbill or a return.

H

HAIRPIN
A slow, 180-turn, which exits in the opposite direction a driver enters.
HAMMER DOWN
The driver has the pedal to the metal or has "dropped the hammer" full throttle.
HEADERS
A fine-tuned exhaust system on NHRA cars that routes exhaust from the engine; replacing conventional exhaust manifolds.
HEADSOCK
A fire resistant head mask or balaclava.
HELICOPTER TAPE
Used to cover and protect exposed areas from flying debris, as helicopter technicians developed it to protect rotors.
HEMI
A Hemi engine, used in NHRA action, has a hemispherical shaped cylinder-head combustion chamber, like a ball cut in half.
HOLE SHOT
Drag racing term describes 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 restart.
HOMOLOGATED
Examination process by which the FIA ensures that rally cars comply with regulations.
HOOKED UP
A car is performing great when all parts are "hooked up" or working well together.
HORSEPOWER
The estimated power needed to lift 33,000 lbs. one foot per minute, roughly equated with a horse's strength.
HOT LAP
A car(s) running at or near racing speed on the course.
HOT PITS
A car(s) is/are on the track. Only crew members and racing officials are allowed into the pits for safety reasons.
HYDRAULIC
When an NHRA car's cylinder fills with too much fuel, thus prohibiting compression by the cylinder and causing a mechanical malfunction, usually an explosive one.
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I

ICE NOTES CREW
See gravel cars.
IMPACT GUN
The machine used to remove wheel nuts. Also an air wrench or air gun.
IMS
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Also referred to as the Brickyard.
IMSA
The International Motor Sports Association. The North American road racing sanctioning body featuring prototype GTS sports car series.
INFIELD
Enclosed portion of a track, which includes team garages on most oval tracks. During race weekends, this area is usually filled with large transporters; merchandise trailers, and driver and fan motorhomes.
INSIDE GROOVE OR LINE
On an oval track, this is the innermost racing line, which is usually separated from the infield by a distinctly flat surface called an apron. On road courses, the inside groove refers to the line closest to the curbs or walls forming the inner portion of turns.
INTERCOM
Radio communication system between rally driver and co-driver (primarily for reading pace notes).
INTERVAL TIMERS
Part of a secondary NHRA timing system that records elapsed times, primarily for the racers' benefit, at 60, 330, 660, and 1,000 feet.
In how many series does Ford Racing race?
Ford Racing participates in seven major global motorsports series: NASCAR's Nextel Cup, Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series, the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, World Rally, various National Hot Rod Association classes and Best in the Desert. Ford is also involved with regional and grass roots series.

J

K

KEPT BUSY
A driver is distracted (or kept busy) by another driver who is relentlessly pursuing.
KEVLAR
A brand name for a certain type of carbon fiber, used in everything from driver's helmets to bodywork to bulletproof vests used by police. A very strong, expensive and lightweight material.
KICK A LEG OUT OF BED
An engine breaks a connecting rod, which penetrates the engine block and ends a driver's day. Announcers describe this as the engine "blowing up."
KITTY LITTER
This term describes two things: the absorbent powder used to soak up fluid spills on the track (often real kitty litter) and the gravel runoff areas on the outside of many road course turns that help slow cars that go off the track.

L

LAG
Turbo lag. The time it takes a turbocharger to boost an engine's power from the moment the driver pushes the throttle.
LAP
One time around a track. Also used as a verb when a driver passes a car and is a full lap ahead of (or has lapped) that opponent. A driver "laps the field" by lapping every other car in the race.
LATE APEX
Turning into a corner late and missing the optimum apex point in order to straighten out the last part of the corner. This allows the driver to accelerate earlier and harder, gaining maximum speed down the next straight.
LAUNCH
A car can be propelled or launched into the air (all four wheels are off the ground) by hitting a severe bump or another car.
LEAD LAP
The race leader's lap. If the leader laps you for the first time, you are no longer on the lead lap.
LEAN
High-tech race cars (e.g., Champ Car World Series vehicles) have engine management systems, which can adjust air/fuel mixtures. Drivers trying to conserve fuel will "run their engines lean" by using a decreased fuel/increased air mixture.
LEG
Section of a rally (usually one day) on which competitors drive not more than 1,000 km.
LET GO
Most commonly used when an engine fails or "blows up." Announcers also use this term for other parts of a car that fail.
LIFT
To raise or lift your foot of the gas pedal. Commonly used when drivers have to "lift" after an unsuccessful pass attempt to slow down and get back into the racing line.
LINE
This is the quickest way around a race circuit, taking advantage of braking, cornering and acceleration. For example, the line for a typical right-handed corner would begin by lining up on the left side of the approaching straight, braking hard, turning in all the way across the track to the inside curb, and then unwinding the steering wheel on the exit to release the friction of the turn, which takes the car back across the track to the outside again. The idea is to use the maximum amount of arc possible to maintain the greatest speed through the corner. The line is often visible due to the rubber laid down by cars, and interestingly is not the shortest way around the track, just the fastest.
LOCK UP
Just like production cars, racers can lock up the brakes and even "flat spot" their tires at race speeds.
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 down.
LOOKS TO PASS
A driver ponders a pass. The driver will actually move over, look at the possible passing area and make a decision to go or not.
LOOSE
A car has more grip in the front than the rear end and tends to "fish tail." Drivers often report whether the car is "loose" or "tight" so the crew can make adjustments. Please see oversteer.
LOW DRAG SETUP
Adjusting a car's aerodynamic features to minimize drag, which also reduces downforce. This setup achieves better performance on straightaways and reduced cornering ability.
LOW LINE
See "inside groove or line."

M

MAKING UP TIME
A driver is catching up to or gaining ground on an opponent.
MARBLES
Rocks, debris and bits of rubber scrubbed off of racing slicks while cornering that collect off the racing line. If a driver enters the marbles at an excessive speed, his car will lose grip and drive perilously into awaiting hazards as if a person walked across a bed of marbles.
MAX REVS
Revving a car to its maximum RPM levels.
METHANOL
Pure methyl alcohol produced by synthesis.
MOUSSE
The substance found inside puncture-resistant rally tires. It enables cars to complete a special stage non-stop at full speed after a puncture.

N

NASCAR
Acronym for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, the sanctioning body for the NASCAR Nextel Cup, Craftsman Truck and Busch Series among others.
NBS
Abbreviation of NASCAR's Busch Series.
NEW SPACER
Term used for a new engine because it fills the space between the chassis and transmission.
NEXTEL Cup
The world's premier stock car racing series sanctioned by NASCAR. Term also given to the trophy awarded to each season's Drivers' Champion beginning in 2004.
NHRA
Abbreviation of National Hot Rod Association
NITROMETHANE
Produced specifically as a fuel for drag racing, it is the result of a chemical reaction between nitric acid and propane.
NOMEX
A fire- and heat-resistant material used to make driving suits, gloves, shoes, helmet liners, balaclavas and underwear. Divers wear four or five layers of Nomex, including long underwear for complete fire protection. When combined with fuel bladders that are resistant to breaking open in a crash, the risk of fire has been greatly reduced over the last 20 years. Much of this technology was developed for the military.

O

OFF LINE
Driving off the best racing line. Drivers will go off line to attempt a pass or to move out of the way of faster cars.
ON THE THROTTLE
A driver has the pedal to the metal.
OPEN WHEEL
Champ car style race cars, which are designed to have the suspension, wheels and tires, exposed, no fenders. Additionally, sprint cars, midgets and modifieds fall into this category.
OTL
Over total lateness, meaning a rally car has fallen so far behind schedule it is excluded.
OUT-BRAKE
A driver gains time and position on an opponent by applying the brakes later and deeper into a corner.
OUTSIDE GROOVE
The outside racing line. Sometimes a car will handle and perform better on the outside/inside line and a driver opts not to use the optimum groove.
OVAL
An oval-shaped track such as Atlanta Motor Speedway.
OVERSTEER
A condition when the front of a car has more grip than the rear. This is the same as a car being "loose."
OVERTAKE
A term commonly used by announcers meaning a pass.

P

PACE CAR
The car, which leads the field to set the pace before NASCAR and Champ Car World Series races and restarts after cautions.
PACE NOTES
Special hand-written notes made by the World Rally co-driver and used on special stages to tell the driver about the corners ahead and the likely speed (pace) at which they can be driven.
PADDOCK AREA
The enclosed portion (or infield) of a race track.
PARADE LAP(S)
The warm-up lap before a NASCAR or Champ Car World Series. Drivers use this lap to warm up their engines and often zig-zag to warm up tires.
PARC FERMÉ
Literally a "closed park" in French, it describe a secure area where rally cars must be parked at certain times.
PARKING LOT
After a big crash, which takes out a lot of cars, the track looks like a parking lot.
PHYSICAL CIRCUIT
Usually refers to road courses which require a lot of turning and, hence, great physical strength.
PICK UP
Debris built up on tires from rubber bits and small stones.
PIT BOARD
A board used by Champ Car World Series crews informs drivers of lap times, lap until pit and various other information. The board is used along with team radios to keep in constant communication.
PIT LIZARD
Nickname for a racing groupie.
PIT ROAD OR ROW
The area designated for teams to set up temporary garages during races accessible to ("pit out") and from ("pit in") the track. Each team is allotted one pit area (or space) per car. Drivers pit so crews can refuel, change tires and make any other repairs or adjustments. Simply called "the pits" most often.
PIT STOP
An integral part of most racing series where drivers stop in pit row so their crews can change tires, refuel, and make repairs or other adjustments.
PITS
Short for pit row or a dejected driver. Also see hot pits or cold pits.
PODIUM RAMP
Raised platform located at official start and finish of World Rally events, over which all competitors must drive their cars.
POINT PAYING
In some series (i.e. Champ Car World Series), you must finish a certain place or higher to receive points toward the championship. Conversely, NASCAR awards points to any driver who starts a race.
POINTS RACING
A driver will compete in races with the primary goal of earning enough points to win a championship, rather than winning the race. A driver competes conservatively in order to finish the race with enough points to maintain or achieve a series points lead.
POLE POSITION
The driver qualifying fastest is awarded the first starting position. This means the driver will start on the inside (relative to the first turn) of the first row.
POP-OFF VALVE
In Champ Car World Series-style racing, this valve is connected to the plenum exiting the turbocharger. Champ Car World Series supplies these valves in order to restrict the pressure generated by the turbocharger.
POWER PLANT
Commonly used term for engines.
PRE-STAGE
To position an NHRA car's front wheels about seven inches behind the starting line so the small yellow lights atop that driver's side of the Christmas Tree are glowing. The next step is to stage and be ready to race.
PRO TREE
Used in Funny Car, Pro Stock. All three large amber lights on the Christmas Tree flash simultaneously, followed four-tenths of a second later by the green starting light. A perfect reaction time on a Pro Tree is .400.
PROVISIONAL STARTING SPOT
Special performance-based exemptions allowed drivers who do not initially qualify for a race. A driver awarded a provisional spot must start at the back of the starting grid.
PUSH
The rear end of a NASCAR or Champ Car World Series car has more grip than the front. This condition makes a car harder to turn into a corner. Commonly known as understeer.
PUSHING AND SHOVING
Race cars making contact.

Q

QUALIFIERS OR QUALLIES
Softer compound tires designed for qualifying only because they provide excellent traction but only for a very short amount of time.
QUALIFY
During designated sessions, NASCAR and Champ Car World Series teams must meet established lap times to qualify for (or enter) a race based on a predetermined number of spots available.
QUALIFYING
Qualifying determines starting positions, based on each driver's best lap time during the qualifying session or sessions. Each car is timed, and the starting grid is determined by the order of fastest cars. For road and street courses, the Champ Car World Series vehicles are on the track at the same time, which requires careful management of track position in order to avoid being blocked by a slower car. For oval events, qualifying is one car at a time, usually for two timed laps.

R

RACE RUBBER
Race tires as opposed to qualifying tires.
RACER'S TAPE
Heavy duty duct tape used to temporarily repair hanging body parts, which might hinder aerodynamic features and decrease performance. Most commonly used on stock cars (e.g. NASCAR Nextel Cup), which use more paneling than Champ Car World Series vehicles and are accustomed to more contact.
RAIN TIRES
Softer compound with better tread for wet-weather conditions. In dry conditions, these softer tires wear faster than harder compound tires with less tread. Also referred to as "Wets."
REACTION TIME
The time it takes an NHRA driver to react to the green starting light on the Christmas Tree, measured in thousandths of a second. The reaction-time counter begins when the last amber light flashes on the Tree and stops when the vehicle clears the stage beam.
RECONNAISANCE
Often called the "Reece" - is a pre-event period during which crews drive the rally route and special stages to prepare pace notes.
RED FLAG
When displayed at the NASCAR or Champ Car World Series start/finish line, a red flag signifies an immediate halt of the session due to a dangerous condition such as a flooded track or a car blocking the track. Corner workers around the track will display black flags when this happens, and all cars are required to stop racing and slowly return to the pits. The lap in progress is discarded, and the field reverts to the order of the previous lap when racing resumes. If the race has run more that 50 percent of the laps, there is an option to declare a complete race if track conditions are not expected to improve. If a race has run less than 50 percent, it will be concluded on another date.
REECE CAR
A normal road car (with extra safety equipment) used pre-event by World Rally crews to learn the route and stages.
RESTRICTOR PLATE
An aluminum plate placed between the base of the carburetor and the engine's intake manifold with four holes drilled in it. The plate, used exclusively in NASCAR racing is designed to reduce the flow of air and fuel into the engine's combustion chamber, thereby decreasing horsepower and speed.
RETURN
A vertical flap attached to a Champ Car World Series car wing for increased downforce. Please see Gurney Flap.
REV LIMITER
Modern Champ Car World Series engines are controlled by electronic "mapping" software that controls things such as fuel consumption and ignition timing. Rev limiting is used for two purposes: to keep the engine from exceeding its maximum rotational speed and exploding into bits of very expensive shrapnel, and to adhere to speed limit rules in the pit lane. The engine manufacturer sets maximum rev limits while the pit lane rev limiter is controlled by a pushbutton on the steering wheel.
RIDE HEIGHT
Height the chassis sits from the ground on NASCAR and Champ Car World Series vehicles. Because of the relationship between the height of the ground-effect tunnels and their performance, maintaining optimum ride height is an important facet of car setup and design. However, it is hard to manage since the faster a car goes the more the aerodynamic effects press it to the ground. Many very complex methods are used to maintain a consistent ride height.
ROAD BOOK
The specially prepared book of instructions, directions, maps and timings, issued to each World Rally car crew.
ROAD COURSE
A race track with multiple left- and right-hand turns. Generally refers to permanent, purpose-built racing facilities. Can also refer to temporary street courses built on big city streets, which were popularized in the 1980's.
ROLL BAR
Large, sturdy bars designed to protect a driver's head if the car rolls over. Very functional in race cars but used more for style in production cars. Most production and race cars use anti-roll (or sway) bars as part of the suspension to prevent the excessive rolling in corners.
ROLLING START
Champ Car World Series and NASCAR races begin after the pace car leaves the track while the cars are moving.
ROOF FLAP
These flaps are sections at the rear of a NASCAR vehicle's roof that are designed to activate, or flip up, if the air pressure flowing across them decreases. In the case of a vehicle turning backwards, the tendency for an uninterrupted flow of air is to create lift. The roof flaps are designed to disrupt that airflow in attempt to keep the vehicle on the ground.
ROOSTER TAIL
The spray trailing cars in wet conditions similar to the effect boats create across water.
RUBBING
Racing announcers use this to describe cars that make contact but don't crash. Also called "pushing and shoving."
RUNNING ANYWHERE
A car is handling so well, a driver can use any racing line (or drive anywhere.) Sometimes, handling problems lead to a preferred line where the car handles better.
RUNNING LIGHT
A car is running with little fuel. Teams qualify with a light load to achieve maximum speed.

S

SAVING THE CAR/TIRES
Driving a car somewhat moderately to conserve the car's mechanical parts and lessen tire wear. This allows a driver to be more aggressive during the all-important final laps.
SCRUBBED TIRES
The best kind of NASCAR or Champ Car World Series racing tires because they've had a few laps of wear to normalize the surface.
SCRUTINEERS
Team of officials who check the eligibility and legality of rally cars before and after the event.
SEEDING
The method used by World Rally organizers to decide the starting order with fastest, most successful crews at the front.
SEQUENTIAL GEARBOX
Design of World Rally gearbox that allows fast, clutch-less gear changes up or down - one ratio at a time.
SERVICE PARKS
Designated areas during World Rally events where teams may carry out work on their cars subject to time limits.
SETUP
Combination of settings for a NASCAR or Champ Car World Series vehicle's engine, aerodynamic features and tires/wheels, teams make continual adjustments to a car's setup during pit stops based on driver input.
SETUP SHEETS
Documents with recorded setups from different tracks under varying weather conditions. NASCAR and Champ Car World Series teams use this baseline to adjust setups when they arrive at a track.
SHAKEDOWN
First test with a brand-new car or engine. Also, in World Rally, shakedown is the pre-event day that provides teams with the last chance to test their cars on roads or trails typical of the rally.
SHIFT POINTS
The best engine rpm at which to shift gears. Some production and racecars have lights to indicate when a driver should shift gears.
SHOOT OUT
Two or more drivers race to the end for victory.
SHUNT
British term for crash or accident.
SHUT DOWN
Turning a car off to avoid mechanical damage or an accident. Often times, drivers shut down so a mechanical problem doesn't lead to more severe and expensive consequences. Drag racers often shut their cars down when they get out of control.
SIXTY-FOOT TIME
The time it takes an NHRA vehicle to cover the first 60 feet of the racetrack. It is the most accurate measure of the launch from the starting line and in most cases determines how quick the rest of the run will be.
SLICKS
Tires with no tread, designed for dry weather conditions.
SLIDER CLUTCH
IN NHRA racing, a multi-disc clutch designed to slip until a predetermined rpm is reached; decreases shock load to the drive wheels.
SLIP
An acronym heard on the NHRA's in-car audio, referring to the electronic "Speed Limiter In Pitlane" device, which automatically keeps the car at the pit lane speed limit by holding a button on the steering wheel.
SLIP STREAM
The cavity of low-pressure area created by a moving object. In racing, drivers use this slip stream to draft another vehicle.
SPEED TRAP
The final 66 feet to the NHRA finish line where speed is recorded.
SPOILER
The spoiler is a strip of aluminum that stretches across the width of a NASCAR vehicle's rear decklid. Designed to create downforce on the rear of the vehicle, thereby increasing traction. However, the tradeoff, again, is that more downforce equals more aerodynamic drag, so teams attempt, particularly on qualifying runs, to lay the spoiler at as low an angle as possible to "free up" their vehicles for more straightaway speed. Also referred to as a "blade."
SPOTTERS
Teams on an oval track will usually have crewmembers on top of the grandstand where they can see the entire track and warn drivers of an accident or advise them where to go in traffic.
STAGE
To position the front wheels right on the NHRA starting line so the small yellow lights below the pre-stage lights are glowing. Once both drivers are staged, the calibrated countdown may begin. Also, in World Rally, a stage or special stage is a speed test on public roads or forest trails, closed for the rally.
STAGE TIME
The officially recorded time taken by a rally car to complete a special stage, from standing start to flying finish.
STAGGER
On ovals, teams may use a different tire circumference between the left- and right-side tires on the vehicle (or stagger) on the outside wheel to improve the car's handling ability. Typically, the left-side tires would be a smaller circumference than the right-side tires to "help" the vehicle make left-hand turns. The concept has largely been eliminated with the use of radial tires in NASCAR.
STICKERS
Brand-new tires with the manufacturer's label (or sticker) still on the surface. Teams generally use sticker tires during qualifying then use scrubbed tires in a race.
STOP LINE
The line where a car must stop to have its stage time recorded on the time card.
STOP-AND-GO PENALTY
This penalty requires a NASCAR or Champ Car World Series or driver to stop at their team's pit for a timed penalty before reentering the race. This penalty can be assessed for anything from speeding in the pits to contact with an opponent.
STUDS
Metal spikes fitted into the treads of World Rally winter tires to give extra grip on snow and ice.
SUMP GUARD
A reinforced panel under the rally car's engine bay to protect the engine's sump and the transmission.
SUPER SPECIAL STAGE
A World Rally stage specially set up to allow pairs of cars to race alongside each other for maximum spectator entertainment and TV appeal.
SUPERCHARGER
On an NHRA vehicle, a crank-driven air/fuel-mixture compressor, also called a blower. It increases atmospheric pressure in the engine to produce more horsepower.
SUPERSPEEDWAY
An oval track usually measuring between one mile and two-plus miles.
SWEEPER
A large sweeping corner on a road or street course.
SWOL
A Champ Car World Series acronym heard on the in-car audio, referring to the electronic "Shift With Out a Lift" device, which allows gear shifts without lifting off the throttle, making the shift faster.

T

TALENT
Television announcers.
TAPED OFF
Usually refers to applying racer's tape to the brake duct opening in full-bodied cars.
TARGET TIME
The time allocated for a rally car to complete a road section or special stage. A car that takes longer may suffer added time penalties.
TEAR-OFFS
Transparent plastic strips applied to helmet visors. As these strips accumulate debris, a driver can tear a dirty strip off for a clear view. Drivers in open cars go through about five tear-offs a race.
TECH
Short for tech (or technical) inspection. Each car is submitted to tech inspection so sanctioning body officials can confirm all chassis and engine parts meet series' guidelines. A "teched" car has passed inspections.
TELEMETRY
Highly sophisticated electronics, which transmit performance data back to a team's pit.
TETHER
In Champ Car World Series racing, a braided Kevlar double strap bolted to the wheel on one end and to the chassis on the other keeps the wheel attached to the chassis in case of an accident. NASCAR requires tethers for the front wheels at events on all tracks 1.25 miles or more in length, excluding road courses. Additionally, the series requires hood tethers.
THROTTLE
The gas pedal.
TIME CONTROL
A location where rally cars must stop to have their time of passing recorded by the event organizers.
TIME PENALTY
A car that is running late during a World Rally race will suffer progressive penalties (one minute late = 10 seconds penalty, etc.)
TOE
In order to provide stable tracking during NASCAR or Champ Car World Series races, all four tires are usually pointed slightly inward if viewed from overhead. More toe-in provides more stability but increased tire drag. On high-speed oval tracks, these toe settings are even more crucial. Champ Car World Series teams usually adjust toe with the most unsophisticated methodology seen in racing, using a string around the outside of the car and a caliper to measure the difference in the distance from the string between the front outside of the tire and the rear outside of the tire.
TOP END POWER
The amount a car accelerates at high speeds or in its highest gear.
TORQUE
Measure of engine power, described in foot-pounds of force. 10 foot-pounds of torque would raise 10 pounds of weight one foot in the air. Horsepower is a measurement of torque over a period of time.
TRACK BAR
In calibrating the NASCAR vehicle's "suspension geometry," raising or lowering the track bar changes the rear roll center and determines how well it will travel through the corners. During races, this adjustment is done through the rear window using an extended ratchet. Typically, lowering the track bar will "tighten" the vehicle and raising the track bar will "loosen" it. Also referred to as a "Panhard bar."
TUB
The chassis or monocoque of a Champ Car World Series-style race car.
TUCK UNDER
A NASCAR or Champ Car World Series driver follows an opponent close enough to move into (or tuck under) their draft.
TURBO OR TURBOCHARGER
A device, which pressurizes air, pumps it into the engine and "boosts" a car's performance. Essentially the condensed air increases the air/fuel mixture to create more power.
TURBULENCE
Rough air encountered by racecar drivers.

U

UNDERSTEER
When a car has more traction (or grip) in the rear than in the front.
UNLAP
A driver down one lap passes the leader to regain position on the lead lap.

V

VALANCE
The relation of the bottom of the panel extending below the NASCAR vehicle's front bumper or its ground clearance affects the amount of front downforce the vehicle creates. Lowering the valance creates more front downforce. Also referred to as "front air dam."
VORTEX
An area of revolving compressed air. In wet conditions, race cars can produce vortexes off their rear ends or wings. These vapor trails are similar to those produced by the engines of jet planes.

W

WARM-UP LAP
The lap before a race starts. Drivers use this parade lap to warm up their engines and tires.
WEAVING
Zig-zagging across the track to warm up and clean off tires, or to confuse an opponent while attempting a pass.
WEDGE
In NHRA this is an engine with a combustion chamber resembling a wedge in shape. In NASCAR it refers to the relationship from corner-to-corner of the weight of the race vehicle. Increasing the weight, adjustments made by turning "weight jacking screws" mounted on each corner with a ratchet, on any corner of the vehicle affects the weight of the other three corners in direct proportion. A typical adjustment for a "loose" car would be to increase the weight of the left rear corner of the vehicle, which decreases the weight of the left front and right rear corners and increases the weight of the right front. A typical adjustment for a "tight" vehicle would be to increase the weight of the right rear corner, which decreases the weight of the right front and left rear and increases the weight of the left front.
WEIGHT TRANSFER
Critical to traction, vehicles are set up to provide a desired weight transfer to the rear wheels. Upon acceleration, the front wheels lift and the weight shifts to the rear wheels, which makes them less likely to spin.
WETS
Tires designed to perform better in the rain.
WHEELIE BAR
Used on NHRA vehicles to prevent excessive front-wheel lift.
WHITE AND RED FLAG
Used by the starter, this white flag with a diagonal red stripe indicates that an emergency or service vehicle is on the track, and extreme caution should be used.
WHITE FLAG
When waved by the starter, this signifies the start of the last lap of the race. When waved by a corner worker, it signifies that a slow-moving vehicle is on the track.
WIND TUNNEL
A structure used by NASCAR and Champ Car World Series race teams to determine the aerodynamic efficiency of their vehicles, consisting of a platform on which the vehicle is fixed and a giant fan to create wind currents. Telemetry devices determine the airflow over the vehicle and its coefficient of drag and downforce.
WINDSCREEN
A transparent fiberglass surface on the front of Champ Car World Series cars designed to aid air flow and deflect turbulent air from the driver.
WINGS
Aerodynamic surfaces mounted to the back of Champ Car World Series race cars to create downforce. Race car wings employ the opposite aerodynamic designs as airplane wings (which create lift to help an aircraft elevate) to create this downforce.
WINSTON CUP
NASCAR sanctioned stock car racing series from 1972 through 2003.
WINSTON MILLION, THE
Started in 1985, a $1 million award given to any NASCAR Winston Cup driver who won three of four selected races—the Daytona 500, the Winston Select 500 (Talladega), the Coca-Cola 600 (Charlotte), and the Mountain Dew Southern 500 (Darlington). As a Ford driver, Bill Elliott won the award in its first year. The program developed into the Winston No Bull 5, which ended in 2002.
WRC
Short for World Rally Championship or World Rally Car - depending on context.
When did Ford begin racing?
When Henry Ford defeated the acclaimed racecar driver Alexander Winton back in October of 1901, it turned heads in the world of racing and garnered more than attention from financial supporters. His passion for racing, research and technology has sustained through 100 years of Ford Racing. In October 2001, Ford Racing celebrated its 100th year in auto racing at historic Greenfield Village with a weekend of activities that revisited Ford Motor Company's auto racing history from 1901 to 2001. Learn more about Ford Racing's history in our Milestones section.
Where are Ford Racing's headquarters?
We operate near Ford Motor Company's World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan - hometown of Henry Ford. But we like to think our true home is on the tracks, courses and stages of the racing world!
Which Ford vehicles are used in racing applications?
The Ford Fusion debuts in NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series competition in 2006, marking the first time Ford has introduced a race car the same year it introduced the production version since 1968 when it launched the Torino. Race teams also employ the Ford F-150, Ranger, Explorer and Focus across the country and the world.

X

Y

YELLOW FLAG
If displayed by a corner worker, this means the subsequent section of the track has a problem that requires that drivers slow down and not make any passes. Usually this is because a car has crashed and is in a dangerous position. If the starter displays two yellow flags, it signifies a full-course caution, which prompts the pace car to enter the track and lead the cars around at reduced speed.

Z

ZIG ZAG
Drivers moving sharply back and forth on the track often on warm-up laps to heat up their tires.

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