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Racing is a Whole New Language
IRL Milwaukee Race, July 2005 By Bronco
IRL Milwaukee Race, July 2005 By Bronco
February 8th 2006 - By Jim Gorecki

If you are a life long race fan, or you a new to the sport, the sport of auto racing has a language all it’s own. I can take this concept even further, if it is a race on a dirt or clay surface, those terms can be different from a track with a paved surface. I thought it would be interesting to share some of the more interesting terms with you. Enjoy reading them!

BITE
The amount of traction that a racecar has at the rear wheels. Adjustments can be made to the car that puts more "bite" into the rear tires by adding weight or wedge to the car.

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.

CUSHION
The dirt that builds up at the top of the turns, as the night goes on, the cushion will get bigger as more cars throw the dirt toward the outside wall. Many drivers like to get the right rear tire on the cushion for bite. If the car goes too high, it “JUMPS THE CUSHION”, most time resulting in a car touching the wall, usually losing speed and momentum.

DNF
Did not finish.

FLAGMAN
The person standing on the tower above the Start/Finish Line who controls the race with a series of flags.

FLAT-OUT
Refers to using 100% of the racecar and not holding back on the ability of the car in a race (i.e. as in running flat-out).

FUEL CELL
The gas tank for racecars. Most racing fuel cells were borrowed from military applications for extra protection in crashes.

FULL-TIME RIDE OR SEAT
A full-time job for a driver. "He has a full-time ride (or seat) next year."

HOOKED UP
A car that is performing great because all parts are "hooked up" or working well together.

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.

IN THE FENCE
A phrase used to describe the wreck of a race car involving several cars or only one car.

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.

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 Pit Pass adjustments. Please see oversteer.

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.

OVERSTEER
A condition when the front of a car has more grip than the rear. This is the same as a car being "loose."

PACE CAR
The car which leads the field to set the pace before starts and restarts after cautions.

PARADE LAP(S)
The warm-up lap before a race. Drivers use this lap to warm up their engines and often zig-zag to warm up tires.

PUSH
The rear end of a car has more grip than the front. This condition makes a car harder to turn into a corner. Commonly known as understeer.

ROLL BAR
Large, sturdy bars designed to protect a driver's head if the car rolls over. Very functional in racecars but used more for style in production cars. Most production and racecars use anti-roll (or sway) bars as part of the suspension to prevent the excessive rolling in corners.

STAGGER
On ovals, teams may use a different size tire (or stagger) on the outside wheel to improve the car's handling ability.

TEAR OFFS
Transparent plastic strips applied to helmet visors. As these strips accumulate debris, a driver or pit crew can tear a dirty strip off for a clear view.