Ohio Dirt Track Racing


white flagDirt Track Racing Dictionary


A-Frame: The upper or lower connecting suspension piece (in the shape of an A) locking the frame to the spindle.
Air dam: A metal strip that hangs beneath the front grill of a stock car, often just inches from the ground. The air dam helps provide aerodynamic downforce at the front of the car.
Air Pressure: Force exerted by air within a tire, expressed in pounds per square inch (PSI).
Alternator: A belt-driven device mounted on the front of the engine that recharges the battery while the engine is running.
Apron: The paved portion of a racetrack that separates the racing surface from the infield. It is usually flat in comparison to the racing surface.


Ball Joint: A ball inside a socket that can turn and pivot in any direction. Used to allow suspension to travel while the driver steers the car.
Banking: The sloping of a racetrack, particularly at a curve or corner, from the apron to the outside wall. Degree of banking refers to the height of a track's slope at its outside edge.
Bite: (1) "Round of bite" describes the turning or adjusting of a car's jacking screws found at each wheel. "Weight jacking" distributes the car's weight at each wheel. (2) Adhesion of a tire to the track surface.
Bleeder valve: A valve in the wheel used to reduce air pressure in tires.
Blend line: Line painted on the track near the apron and extending from the pit road exit into the first turn. When leaving the pits, a driver must stay below it to safely "blend" back into traffic.
Blister: An overheating of the tread compound resulting in bubbles on the tire surface.
Bodywork: The fabricated sheet metal that encloses the chassis of a stock car.
Brake caliper: The part of the braking system that, when applied by the driver, clamps the brake disk/rotor to slow or stop the car.


Camber: The amount a tire is tilted in or out from vertical.
Camshaft: A rotating shaft within the engine that opens and closes the intake and exhaust valves in the engine.
Carburetor: A device connected directly to the gas pedal and mounted on top of the intake manifold that controls the air/fuel mixture going to the engine.
Chassis: The steel structure or frame of the car.
Chute: A racetrack straightaway.
Compound: A formula or "recipe" of rubber composing a particular tire. Different tracks require different tire compounds. "Left-side" tires are considerably softer than "right-side" tires, and it's against NASCAR rules to run left sides on the right. There are four basic components: rubber polymers, carbon blacks, oils and curatives.
Cowl: A removable metal scoop on a stock car at the base of the windshield and rear of the hood that directs air into the air box.
Crankshaft: The rotating shaft within the engine that delivers the power from the pistons to the flywheel, and from there to the transmission.


Deck lid: The trunk lid of a stock car.
Dirty air: The turbulence created in the air flow behind a race car.
Donuts: The black circles left on the side of a car when another car's tire rubs up against it during a race.
Downforce: A combination of aerodynamic and centrifugal forces. The more downforce, the more grip A car has. But more downforce also means more drag, which can rob a race car of speed.
Draft: The aerodynamic effect that allows two or more cars traveling nose-to-tail to run faster than a single car. When one car follows another closely, the one in front cuts through the air, providing a cleaner path of air and less resistance for the car in back.
Drafting: The practice of two or more cars, while racing, to run nose-to-tail, almost touching. The lead car, by displacing the air in front of it, creates a vacuum between its rear end and the nose of the following car, actually pulling the second car along with it.
Drag: The resistance a car experiences when passing through air at high speeds. It is caused by air flowing beneath the car and lifting it higher in the air, as well as air flowing through the cooling system, ducts in the body, friction between a car's body, and open windows. Air travels into these openings instead of smoothly sliding over the car. With less drag, a car can accelerate faster, especially at higher speeds, because the car needs less horsepower to move forward through the air.
Driveshaft: A steel tube that connects the transmission of a race car to the rear end housing.
Dyno: Shortened term for "dynamometer," a machine used to measure an engine's horsepower.


Engine Block: An iron casting from the manufacturer that envelopes the crankshaft, connecting rods, and pistons.
Equalized: When the inner liner of a tire loses air pressure and that pressure becomes the same as that within the outer tire, creating a vibration. The inner shield should have a higher PSI than the outer tire.
Esses: A series of acute left- and right-hand turns on a road course, one turn immediately following another.


Fabricator: A person who specializes in creating the sheet metal body of a stock car.
Firewall: A solid metal plate that separates the engine compartment from the driver's compartment of the race car.
Flywheel: A heavy metal rotating wheel that is part of the race car's clutch system, used to keep elements such as the crank shaft turning steadily.
Frame: The metal "skeleton" or structure of a race car, on which the sheet metal of the car's body is formed. Also referred to as a "chassis."
Fuel cell: A holding tank for a race car's supply of gasoline. Consists of a metal box that contains a flexible, tear-resistant bladder and foam baffling. A product of aerospace technology, it's designed to eliminate or minimize fuel spillage. A fuel cell holds approximately 22 gallons.
Fuel pump: A device that pumps fuel from the fuel cell through the fuel line into the carburetor.


Gasket: A thin material, made of paper, metal, silicone, or other synthetic materials, used as a seal between two similar machined metal surfaces such as cylinder heads and the engine block.
Gauge: An instrument, usually mounted on the dashboard, used to monitor engine conditions such as fuel pressure, oil pressure, and temperature, water pressure and temperature, and RPM (revolutions per minute).
Greenhouse: The upper area of the race car that extends from the base of the windshield in the front, the tops of the doors on the sides, and the base of the rear window in the back. Includes all of the A, B and C pillars, the entire glass area and the car's roof.
Groove: The best route around the racetrack or the most efficient or quickest way around the track for a particular driver. 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 than the outside wall. Road racers use the term "line." The groove can change depending on track and weather conditions.


Happy Hour: Term given to the last official practice session held before a NASCAR event.
Handling: A race car's performance while racing, qualifying or practicing. How a car "handles" is determined by its tires, suspension geometry, aerodynamics, and other factors.
Hauler: The truck and trailer that teams use to transport race cars, engines, tools, and support equipment to the racetracks.
Horsepower: A measurement of mechanical or engine power. Measured in the amount of power it takes to move 33,000 pounds one foot in a minute.


Intermediate track: Term describing a racetrack one mile or more, but less than two miles, in length.
Interval: The time-distance between two cars. Referred to roughly in car lengths, or precisely in seconds.


Line: See Groove
Loose: Also known as "oversteer." When the rear tires of the car have trouble sticking in the corners. This causes the car to "fishtail" as the rear end swings outward during turns. A minor amount of this effect can be desirable on certain tracks.
Lug nuts: Large nuts applied with a high-pressure air wrench to wheel during a pit stop to secure the tires in place. All NASCAR cars use five lug nuts on each wheel, and penalties are assessed if a team fails to put all five on during a pit stop.


Marbles: Excess rubber build-up above the upper groove on the racetrack.


Neutral: A term drivers use when referring to how their car is handling. When a car is neither loose nor pushing (tight).


Oil pump: This device pumps oil to lubricate all moving engine parts.
Oversteer: See Loose.


Pit road: The area where pit crews service the cars. Generally located along the front straightaway, but because of space limitations, some race tracks sport pit roads on both the front and back straightaways.
Pit stall: The area along pit road that is designated for a particular team's use during pit stops. Each car stops in the team's stall before being serviced.
Pit window: An estimate (in laps) of when the crew thinks the driver will need to make a pit stop to refuel. Pole position: The first position on the starting grid, awarded to the fastest qualifier.
Post-entry (PE): A team or driver who submits an entry blank for a race after the deadline for submission has passed. A post-entry receives no driver or owner points.
Push: See Tight


Quarter-panel: The sheet metal on both sides of the car from the C-post to the rear bumper below the deck lid and above the wheel well.


Restart: The waving of the green flag following a caution period.
Restrictor plate: A thin metal plate with four holes that restrict airflow from the carburetor into the engine. Used to reduce horsepower and keep speeds down. In the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, restrictor plates are used at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, the two biggest and fastest tracks in NASCAR.
RPM: Short for Revolutions Per Minute, a measurement of the speed of the engine's crankshaft.
Roll cage: The steel tubing inside a stock car's interior. Designed to protect the driver from injury during impacts or rollovers.
Round: A way of making chassis adjustments utilizing the race car's springs. A wrench is inserted in a jack bolt attached to the springs, and is used to tighten or loosen the amount of play in the spring. This in turn can loosen or tighten up the handling of a race car.


Scuffs: Tires that have been used at least once and saved for further racing. A lap or two is enough to "scuff" them in. Most often used in qualifying.
Setup: Tuning and adjustments made to a race car's suspension before and during a race.
Short track: Racetracks that are less than a mile in length.
Silly Season: Slang for the period that begins during the latter part of a season, when teams begin to announce driver, crew and/or sponsor changes for the following year.
Slick: A track condition where it's hard for a car's tires to adhere to the surface or get a good "bite." A slick race track is not necessarily wet or slippery because of oil, water, etc.
Slingshot: A maneuver in which a car following the leader in a draft suddenly steers around it, breaking the vacuum; this provides an extra burst of speed that allows the second car to take the lead. See Drafting.
Splash and Go: A quick pit stop that involves nothing more than refueling the race car with the amount of fuel necessary to finish the race.
Spoiler: A metal blade attached to the rear deck lid of the car. It helps restrict airflow over the rear of the car, providing downforce and traction.
Stagger: The difference in size between the tires on the left and right sides of a car. Because of a tire's makeup, slight variations in circumference result. Stagger between right-side and left-side tires may range from less than a half inch to more than an inch. Stagger applies to only bias-ply tires and not radials.
Stickers: New tires. The name is derived from the manufacturer's stickers that are affixed to each new tire's contact surface.
Stop and Go: A penalty, usually assessed for speeding on pit road or for unsafe driving. The car must be brought onto pit road at the appropriate speed and stopped for one full second in the team's pit stall before returning to the track.
Superspeedway: A race track of a mile or more in distance. Racers refer to three types of oval tracks. Short tracks are under one mile, intermediate tracks are at least a mile but under two miles, and speedways are two miles and longer.
Sway bar: Sometimes called an "anti-roll bar." Bar used to resist or counteract the rolling force of the car body through the turns.


Template: A device used to check the body shape and size, to ensure compliance with the rules. The template closely resembles the shape of the factory version of the car.
Tight: Also known as "understeer." A car is said to be tight if the front wheels lose traction before the rear wheels do. A tight race car doesn't seem able to steer sharply enough through the turns. Instead, the front end continues toward the wall.
Toe: Looking at the car from the front, the amount the tires are turned in or out. If you imagine your feet to be the two front tires of a race car, standing with your toes together would represent toe-in. Standing with your heels together would represent toe-out.
Track bar: The part of the rear suspension that is attached to the frame on one side and to the rear axle on the other. It keeps the car's rear tires centered within the car's body.
Trading paint: Aggressive driving involving a lot of bumping and rubbing.
Tri-oval: A race track that has a "hump" or "fifth turn" in addition to the standard four corners. Not to be confused with a triangle-shaped speedway, which has three distinct corners.


Victory lane: Sometimes called the "winner's circle." The spot on each racetrack's infield where the race winner parks for the celebration.


Wedge, round of: Adjusting the handling of the car by altering pressure on the rear springs.
Wedge: Term that refers to the cross weight adjustment on a race car.
Window net: A woven mesh that hangs across the driver's side window, to prevent the driver's head and limbs from being exposed during an accident.

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