Track Terminology

WARNING: This form of racing is extremely contagious and addictive!


This glossary provides all the terms commonly used at the race track.


  • Alternate – Also called “Alternate Starter.” The car that just missed a transfer spot to the main event. In case a car that already qualified for the main event fails to start, the alternate can join the field and start the race.
  • A-Main Event – Also called the “A-Feature.” The feature event and biggest race of the program. This is the race that has the most cars, points, prize money, and is generally from 30 to 50 laps.
  • Apex – the 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.
  • Arm Restraints – Straps attached to a driver’s arms to limit range of motion and keep the arms and hands inside the car in case of a flip.
  • Attrition The rate at which cars drop out of a race. This is due to mechanical failures or crashes.
  • ASCS – American Sprint Car Series



  • “Backing It In” – Term used to describe a non-wing sprint car’s entry into a corner. The car enters the turn in a slide with the rear of the car leading the front of the car.
  • Back Marker – A car running at the rear of the field.
  • Back Out – When a driver takes his foot off the gas pedal (all the way or part way), he “backs out” or “lifts.”
  • Bandits – Non-Wing 360 Sprint Car Group, based in Central California.
  • Banking – The slope of the turns, which can help cars enter and exit the corners. A flat track would have 0 degrees of banking. A track with 15 degrees would have significant banking. The higher the degree of banking, the faster the cars will be able to travel.
  • Bead Lock – A device used to fasten the tire bead to the wheel rim. This helps to keep the tire on the wheel and prevents the tire from slipping.
  • Bench Racing – Talking about racing.
  • Binders – Brakes. Used in the expression “jumped on the binders.”
  • Bite – The amount of traction that a race car has at the rear wheels.
  • Black Flag – Signals a driver to pull immediately into the pits for safety reasons. Failure to enter pits after receiving the black flag can result in disqualification.
  • Bladder – The bladder keeps the fuel from spilling and catching fire in the case of a rear impact.
  • Blistering – Racing tires when they overheat. The top layer of rubber comes off in small chunks.
  • Blown Engine – An engine that has failed completely. Most often it will “go up in flames.”
  • Blue Flag w/ Yellow Stripe – This flag is displayed to direct the cars to allow the traffic lapping them to pass without delay.
  • B-Main Event – The “last chance race” to get into the main event.
  • Bobble – A miscue by a driver.
  • Bolt-On Parts – Term used to describe the parts that attach to the car’s chassis. Ex. radius rods, arms, and axles.
  • Brain Fade – A lack of focus that can lead to making a mistake during a race.
  • Bubble – The last position available to qualify for the heat races. Slower qualification times will result in starting the consolation races.
  • Bull Ring – An oval track of a half-mile or less.



  • Catch Fence – The fence along the wall that protects spectators from errant cars, parts, etc.
  • Caution – A yellow flag condition, where no passing is allowed (unless ordered by officials for racing order) and cars must slow down.
  • CC – Cubic Centimeters. The standard measure of displacement in Europe. A liter, 1000 cubic centimeters, is approximately 61 cubic inches.
  • Chassis – The basic frame/structure of a race car to which all other components are attached.
  • Checked Out – Expression when the leader drives away from the rest of the field and will seem impossible to catch.
  • Chili Bowl – A nationally recognized indoor Midgets race in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This event draws over 100 cars.
  • Chute – A race track straightaway.
  • C-Main Event – A race that is sometimes referred to as a ‘consolation race’. The participants did not qualify fast enough to earn a spot in the heat races. Usually filled with rookies or cars that had problems.
  • Collected – When a car is caught in an incident that they did not cause. If a car spins and is struck by a second car to a stop, the second car is said to be collected.
  • Compound – The rubber mixture for tires. A softer compound tire provides better traction but wears out much faster than a harder compound tire which doesn’t provide as much grip.
  • Cone – Marker to indicate the starting spot for the race.
  • Contingency Award– Money or prizes that are awarded to racers by parties other than the race promoter. Typically based on the use of a sponsor’s product.
  • Crossed Flags – The race has reached the half-way point.
  • Crew Chief – Lead mechanic that makes decisions or implements changes to the car for racing conditions.
  • Cushion – A dirt curb or edge by cars running the same line in a corner.
  • Cylinder – A hollow tubular area in the cylinder block where the piston travels and combustion takes place.
  • Cylinder Head – The top of the cylinder block that contains the spark plugs and valves. It seals the cylinder and forms the top of the combustion chamber.



  • Dicing – Close, exciting driving between 2 or more racers. Positions are exchanged frequently.
  • Displacement – A measure of an engine’s size. It’s the difference between the volume contained in the cylinders when the pistons are at the bottom of the stroke and the volume that remains when the pistons are at the top of the stroke. It can be calculated by multiplying bore times stroke times 0.785 times the number of cylinders.
  • DNF – Did not finish.
  • DNQ – Did not qualify.
  • DNS – Did not start.
  • DQ – Disqualified from the event. Usually for safety reasons, the car not meeting certain standards, or for negative behavior.
  • DNR – Do not repeat.
  • Dialing In – The driver and crew making setup adjustments for better handling.
  • Diamond – Taking corners by driving into them fairly straight and then making a sharp turn in the middle of the corner. The car will then drive out of the corner fairly straight. This will give a diamond-shaped trajectory around the track.
  • Dirt Track – A track that is not paved, with dirt, clay, or a mixture of the two.
  • Driver’s Championship – The driver earning the most points by the end of the season wins the drivers’ championship.
  • Driver’s Meeting – A meeting prior to a major race that is conducted by race officials. All drivers in the race are required to attend. Used to discuss rule changes, unusual conditions, and race format.
  • Dropped Cylinder – A cylinder becomes too rich (too much fuel in the air/fuel mixture), which prevents the spark plug (s) from firing.
  • Dry-Slick – A dry dirt track with little or no moisture. Often associated with a dusty track.



  • Earnhardt – Dale Earnhardt Sr., Jr., Ralph Earnhardt racing family out of Kannapolis, NC.



  • Fast Time – The time for the driver who had the fastest lap during qualifying. Also called quick time.
  • Fast Qualifier – The driver that had the fastest lap during qualifying.
  • Feature – Main Event.
  • Field – The group of cars that starts a race or the total number of cars in attendance.
  • Fire Suit – Fire-resistant clothing, which is required clothing for drivers.
  • Five – The starter will show the field their hand or “five fingers” to indicate 5 Laps remaining.
  • Flagman – The person standing in the tower above the Start/Finish Line who controls the race with a selection of flags.
  • Fours – Four car wide salute to the fans from the racers. Normally at the start of the nights main event.
  • Fresh Rubber – Adding new tire(s).



  • Grand Marshall – An honor awarded for a special race. Ventura promoter Jim Naylor served as Grand Marshall for the 2002 Oval Nationals.
  • Green Flag – Displayed to signify the start of the race.
  • Grid – Lineup of cars before the start of the race.
  • Groove – The line through a corner which drivers have found to be the fastest.



  • Hammer Down – The driver has the gas pedal “to the metal”- full throttle.
  • Hard Charger – The driver that has passed the most cars in the main event.
  • Harness – The safety belt system worn by a race driver.
  • Hauler – A tractor trailer that carries the crew, car, equipment, and tools needed.
  • Headers – System that routes exhaust from the engine.
  • Head Sock – A fire resistant head mask.
  • Heat Race – Race where typically the top 4 finishers will transfer to the main event. The rest of the field will go to the Semi-Main or B-Main.
  • Hooked Up – A car that is performing great because all parts are working well together.
  • Horsepower – The unit for measuring the power output of an engine. One horsepower is defined as lifting 33,000 pounds one foot per minute.



  • IMCA – International Motor Contest Association.
  • Independent – A driver that owns the own racing team. Typically referred as “low buck” and relies on race winnings as much or more than sponsorship money.
  • Infield – The inside of the race track.
  • In/Out Box – Contains direct drive slider gears on a Sprint Car. Since Sprint Cars do not have a clutch, the car has to be put in gear to be ready to race. The slider gear has to be engaged before the sprinter is pushed off and the engine will start by compression, like a running start on manual-shift automobile.
  • Inside Line – The shortest line around the track. Also, the part of the track that is closest to the infield.
  • IRL – Indy Racing League.



  • “Johnny 3-Wheel” – A nickname used by Manzanita Speedway Announcer Windy McDonald for driver JJ Yeley. Yeley is known to pitch a Sprint Car through the corners on 3 wheels- with the left front wheel high in the air.
  • Jumping The Start – When a driver anticipates the start (green flag) too early. This will cause a complete restart. Continued violations will result in a penalty.





  • Lap – One complete circuit around the track. As a verb, when the leaders pass the cars at the back of the field, thus putting the second driver more than a lap behind, he is said to have lapped him.
  • Lapped Car – A car that is running slow enough such that the race leader has come all the way around the track and passed it. It is said to be “lapped.”
  • “Leadfoot” – A driver that is very fast and rough on equipment.
  • Lead Lap – The race leader’s lap. If the leader laps you for the first time, you are no longer on the lead lap.
  • Let Go – Term to describe when an engine fails or “blows up.” Also when other parts of a car fail.
  • Lift – To raise or lift your foot of the gas pedal.
  • Lights Out – The lights go out when the starter is ready to display a green flag.
  • Line – The route taken by a driver, especially through a turn. The high line is a route close to the wall or “on the cushion”, a low line is closer to the track’s infield and shortest distance around the track.
  • Loose –┬áTerm to describe a condition in which the car’s front tires have more traction than the rear, causing the rear of the car to point toward the outside and the front to point to the inside. Also called “oversteer.”
  • Loose Stuff – Loose dirt on the edge of the track. Contains little or no traction and can result into hitting the┬átrack’s wall. Same as marbles.
  • Loud Pedal – The accelerator, gas pedal, or throttle.
  • LVMS – Las Vegas Motor Speedway, located in Las Vegas, Nevada.



  • Main Event – The A-Main is “The Show.” It is the race that pays the racers.
  • Marbles – Loose dirt on the edge of the track. Contains little or no traction and can result into hitting the
  • track’s wall.
  • Methanol – Sprint Car Fuel – technically pure methyl alcohol.
  • Midget – An open wheel car with the engine in front of the driver and the driver is enclosed in a tall roll cage.
  • Modifieds – An open-wheeled car with the engine in front of the driver with an enclosed cockpit.



  • NASCAR – National Association for Stock car Auto Racing.
  • Neutral – Condition of a race car that is not loose or tight. It is setup to go where it is pointed.
  • NMMRA – New Mexico Motor Racing Association.
  • NMRA – National 3/4 Midget Racing Association.
  • Nomex – A trademark for a fire-resistant fiber often used in fire suits.
  • Non-Wing Sprint Car – A traditional sprint car without a wing.
  • NWWC – Non-Wing World Championship.



  • Open Wheel – Cars that have their wheels exposed- no fenders. Examples are Sprint Cars and Midgets.
  • Oval Nationals – A prestigious national event held at Perris Auto Speedway. Bud Kaeding won in 2002 and the $30,000 prize money.
  • Oval Track – An elliptical race track with 4 turns/corners. Left turn only.
  • Oversteer – The condition in which the car’s front tires have more traction than the rear, causing the rear of the car to point toward the outside and the front to point to the inside. Also called “loose.”



  • Pace Car – The car that leads the field around the track, prior to the start of the race.
  • Parade Lap – A lap taken by cars at slow speed, normally in 4-Wide formation.
  • Pinched – When a race car on the inside squeezes an outside car by the outside wall, This will cause the outside car to slow down and follow.
  • Pit – An area beside the track (or in the infield, depending on venue) where cars get serviced.
  • Pit Crew – The members of the team that services and repairs a race car.
  • Pole – the inside, front row starting position. In SCRA, the winner of the Passing Masters Dash will start on the pole for the night’s main event.
  • Promoter – Someone who organizes a race, puts up the purse, gets race sponsors, handles advertising and ticket sales, and assumes the financial risk of putting on the race. The promoter might be a track owner or the owner of a series’ rights.
  • Promoter’s Option – A promoter can designate one or more cars to start a race even though they failed to qualify. Infrequently used.
  • Purse – The total prize money to be awarded to the race participants by the promoter.
  • Push – A term to describe a car’s tendency to head toward the outside wall on a turn. The car will not have the ability to turn sharply enough. The front tires have little or no traction. Also called understeer.
  • PVQMA – Pomona Valley Quarter Midget Association.



  • Qualifying – The process of competing for starting positions of heat and consolation races. In SCRA, the racers get two timed laps. The best/fastest lap is used for the racer.
  • Quarter Midget – A scaled down version of a full midget, with about an 80-inch wheelbase and the size of a go-kart. An introductory car for future racing stars, usually from 5 to 16 years old.. In Southern California, the PVQMA, is a club for kids to join and compete.



  • Race Director – The coordinator of the racing event. Racing procedures are among the directors responsibly.
  • Red Flag – The flag used to stop the race. Normally due to a crash.
  • Red/Yellow Flag – Complete restart. Line up in original starting positions.
  • Restart – The resumption of a race after a caution or red flag period.
  • Roll Cage – Welded frame that surrounds the driver for protection.
  • Rookie – A driver who is inexperienced in the type of cars that he/she is currently running.
  • Rookie Flag – A small yellow flag waving from the back of a racecar. This indicates to the other drivers that the car is driven by a rookie driver.
  • Rookie of the Year – The outstanding rookie of a series for a certain year.
  • RPM – Revolutions per minute.
  • Rub – Light contact between 2 or more cars.



  • Sanctioning Body – An organization that sets and enforces the rules for a race or series..
  • Sandbag – To hold back on a car’s performance, during qualifying, to mislead other drivers as to its potential.
  • Sawing On The Wheel – Expression describing when a driver turns the steering wheel back and forth in a rapid manner.
  • Seat Time – Time sitting behind the wheel, competing in a race, qualifying, etc.
  • Semi-Main – Referred to as the B-Main or last chance race. Transfers will go to the main event and the rest are done for the night.
  • Setup – The combination of settings for a car’s engine, tires, and chassis. Teams make constant adjustments to a car’s setup based on driver input.
  • Shake Down – Testing a brand-new car or engine.
  • Short Track – A track that is less than a mile long in length.
  • Shunt – A collision.
  • Silver Crown – Larger and heavier Sprint Cars, typically sanctioned by USAC, that are a successor to the roadster-style front engine cars that raced at Indy.
  • Slide Job – A passing technique used in the corners to slide up in front of another car.
  • Sprint Car – An open wheeled race car, typically around 1300 pounds. Composed of a frame (chassis), engine, seat, and a fuel tank. Traditional Sprint Cars are famous for “backing it in” the corners and turning right to turn left.
  • Stagger – Different size tires are put on the car to lean the car to one side. This helps the car turn and improve cornering.
  • Straightaway – The long straight stretch of an oval track, where the car can reach its highest speed.
  • “Super” Rickie – SCRA Sprint Car Driver Rickie Gaunt.



  • Tacky – A track condition where the racing surface is slightly wet and sticky.
  • Tear Offs – Clear plastic strips applied to helmet visors. As these strips accumulate debris, a driver will tear a dirty strip off for a clear view.
  • Throttle – The gas pedal
  • Tight – A term to describe a car’s tendency to head toward the wall on a turn. Also called pushing or understeering.
  • Torsion Bar – A rod in the suspension system that, when twisted from a grip at one end, functions like a spring.
  • TQ – A Three-Quarter scaled midget.
  • Traditional Sprint Car – Non-Wing Sprint Car.
  • Transporter – A large tractor-trailer used to transport race cars and parts to a race track.
  • Tread – The surface pattern of a tire.



  • Understeer – A condition in which the rear tires have more traction than the front tires. The front tires will slide across the track toward the outside wall rather than turning into the corner. Also called push.
  • Unlap – A driver down one lap passes the leader to regain their position on the lead lap.
  • USAC – United States Auto Club.



  • Victory Circle – The desired destination of any race car driver. The location for the race victory ceremony- trophy presentation, interviews, and photos.



  • Wheelbase – The distance between a car’s front and rear axles.
  • White Flag – Flag used to signify that there is one lap remaining in the race.
  • “Wild Child” – Sprint Car Driver Jac Haudenschild.
  • Wing – A device not found on a Traditional Sprint Car. Referred to as a “barn door” or billboard by fans.
  • Wing Sprint Car – Sprint Cars that utilize wings.
  • WoO – World Of Outlaws.



  • “X” – The work/repair area for cars that were damaged during a race.



  • Yellow Flag – Flag that signifies caution during a race. Usually resulting from a crash, spin, or debris on the track. Cars are to slow down and not to pass while the hazard is cleared from the track.
  • Yellow Light – Caution on the track. Maintain position and do not pass.

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