Track Talk

Confused by some the sayings you hear in racing? You’re not alone…There are several terms and phrases that are unique to motorsports – and in many cases – mean something entirely different than you would normally expect. Here is our handy racing dictionary…

AERODYNAMICS: The study of how air and motion around, over and under a racecar create pressure on the racecar.

APRON: The paved portion of the racetrack that separates the racing surface from the infield.

BACKUP: i.e. a backup car, referring to a spare car.

BANKING: The slope of the racetrack from the apron to the outside wall, measured in degrees.

BITE: The amount of adhesion of a tire or tires to a racing surface.

COMPOUND: A formula that determines different qualities and hardness of racing tires. The softer the compound, the “stickier” they are, thus creating more grip between the tire and the track. However, softer tires tend to wear faster.

DNF: Abbreviation for “did not finish.”

DNQ: Abbreviation for “did not qualify.”

DRAFTING: The practice of two or more ars running close together to minimize their combined aerodynamic drag.

DYNO: Slang term for dynamometer, a machine used to test an engine’s horsepower and other performance factors.

GROOVE: The preferred path of a racecar on a racetrack. Also referred to as “the line.”

HANDLING: The performance of a car while racing, in reference to the chassis, tires and suspension. These components may be adjusted before or during a race in the hopes on improving the handling.

LOOSE: A handling condition that describes the tendency for the rear tires losing traction, sliding the rear of the car toward the outside. Can be corrected with a tire change or suspension adjustment; opposite of tight.

MARBLES: Pieces of worn tires and debris that collect at the top, or outside, of a track during the course of a race.

POLE: The first starting position in a race.

REAREND: The differential in a race car.

SHORT TRACK: An oval race track of less than one mile in length.

SCUFFED TIRE: A race tire that has been run a short distance, i.e. the manufacturers sticker has been scuffed off.

SET UP: Adjustments made by the crew to the variable components of the racecar to try to gain optimum performance. The factors that determine the adjustments often include educated guesses as to weather conditions that influence track conditions.

SPEEDWAY: An oval race track of not less than one mile and not more than 1.5 miles in length.

STAGED: The final step in the lining-up process prior to the start of the race.

STAGGER: The difference in diameter or circumference between the tires. In oval events, it is usually preferable to have right side tires that are slightly larger to help turn the car, i.e. roll a cone on a flat surface – it rolls in a circle.

STICKER TIRE: A new race tire. Refers to the manufacturer’s stickers that are still attached.

SUPERSPEEDWAY: An oval race track of more than 1.5 miles in length.

TIGHT: A handling condition that describes the tendency for the front tires losing traction, sliding the front of the car toward the outside. Can be corrected with a tire change or suspension adjustment; opposite of loose.

TRIOVAL: The dogleg area in the frontstraight of a speedway or superspeedway.

WEDGE: The imbalance among the weights carried by the springs in a stock car. Shifting wedge means moving a portion of the total weight of the vehicle from one corner to another to affect handling. The term comes from the practice of driving a wedge between the leaves of a leaf spring.