Auto racing is a passion for many people, and like most popular sports a specialized language has grown up around it. This is common in situations where technical terms are often used, and those unfamiliar with the science of racing often shorten these words and phrases through frequent use.
Are you unsure of the meaning of the word “chicane” or other racing related terms? The Glossary at Autoracing.com is your online dictionary to the language of racing, providing you with a useful list of specialized words and terms relating to auto racing, along with their definitions. Use the Glossary at Autoracing.com as a handy reference tool. The terms have been listed in alphabetical order for your convenience. Why not bookmark this page – should you come across an unfamiliar term you can return here for quick reference.
Apex – The part of a turn at its center where the car is turning most sharply. The apex is usually the slowest part of the turn; the car slows down into the apex and then accelerates out of it.
CART – Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) is the sanctioning body of the FedEx Championship Series.
Chassis – The basic frame/structure of a racecar to which all other components are attached.
Chicane – A sudden sequence of serpentine turns found at the end of a long, high-speed straightaway that forces drivers to reduce their speed so that the car can be maneuvered into the next part of the course.
Crew Chief – The lead mechanic who makes decisions or implements changes to the car before and during a race.
Displacement – The total volume of air-fuel mixture that an engine is theoretically capable of drawing into all cylinders during one combustion cycle.
Drafting – The relative vacuum left in the trail of any fast-moving car that can often “pull” trailing cars forward by reducing the drag caused by wind resistance. Drafting enables a trailing driver to save fuel.
Drag – A term used in auto racing that relates to anything that causes wind resistance or affects the aerodynamics of air flow over the race car.
Groove – The unseen “line” that provides the fastest way around a racecourse or racing circuit. The groove is not a fixed point or “trajectory” as it may change during a race. The groove may depend on such factors as temperature and moisture, as well as oil, water and rubber deposited on the track during a race – all of which impact race conditions to various degrees.
Horsepower – A unit that measures the relative strength or pulling force of an engine. In its simplest terms, one horsepower equals approximately 33,000 foot-pounds per minute.
Methanol – Pure methyl alcohol used as fuel in all Indy Racing League cars.
NASCAR – The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body of American stock car racing. The three racing series currently overseen by NASCAR include the Sprint Cup Series (formerly the Winston Cup Series), the Camping Word Trucks Series and the Nationwide Series.
Pace Car – A Pace Car is the car that leads the field of auto racers around the track prior to the official start of the race. Typically modified and decorated production cars, pace cars sometimes feature celebrity drivers who either ride in the pace car or on occasion drive it.
Pit Stop – During a race, a driver may leave the race track and enter the off track area known as the “pit lane”. Once the car is stopped at the team’s designated location, the car may be repaired, examined, adjusted or refueled.
Pole Position – The favored position when the race begins. The pole position is located on the inside of the front row. The driver with the fastest qualifying time is awarded the pole position and the cars are lined up from the pole in order of the fastest to the slowest qualifying lap times.
Yellow Flag – The Yellow Flag signifies “caution” during a race and is usually waved to signal that an accident has taken place or debris (such as gasoline, oil or parts) remains on the track after a crash. Cars are required to slow down and not to pass while the hazard is being cleared.
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NASCAR is an acronym for National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing and the association is currently the largest sanctioning body of motor sports in the US. It is hugely popular with sports fans in that country and has the second highest television ratings in the US. Besides this, various NASCAR races are broadcast in more than 150 countries across the globe – proof that the appeal of NASCAR racing is not just limited to the United States.
Part of this relates to the fact that participating vehicles are based on stock cars, which can be bought from a local dealer’s lot. This means that the sport is more accessible to aspiring drivers than other forms of racing. Another factor is that, even though the NASCAR headquarters are based in Daytona Beach, Florida, the sport is widespread with a number of sanctioned races being held at racing tracks across the country on a regular basis. The sport is also well-sponsored since advertisers recognise that NASCAR fans are generally the most brand-loyal of all sports fans.
It all began in Daytona Beach in the early 1900s. During that time, the beach was known for being the best place to set land speed records and many flocked here to watch or prove their worth. As many as fifteen records were set here before the Bonneville Salt Flats were seen as being a decidedly better location. It is said that during this time, many of those with the fastest cars paid for their motoring improvements by means of bootlegging. Their cars doubled as a quick getaway vehicle for their illegal bootlegging runs. Once alcohol was made legal, these wealthy car owners turned to the thrill of racing for entertainment and money and the legacy of NASCAR was born. The actual association was founded in 1948 by Bill France Sr who saw fit to get this burgeoning sport onto closed tracks under one organizational umbrella. Prior to the formation of NASCAR, the various tracks in operation generally made their own rules which made it difficult for drivers and mechanics meet vehicle and engine requirements at each track. Certainly, the organisation of the sport through NASCAR helped to catapult it to new heights.
Today NASCAR racing is clearly one of the most popular sports in the US. There are a variety of noted NASCAR drivers and NASCAR teams who have made their mark on the history of the sport. Many drivers have centred their entire career on the sport, with many enjoying a long and prosperous career. Some even pass on their legacy to their children. There are also a great number of NASCAR tracks which are seen as seasonal favourites and NASCAR racing series which draw larger attendances than normal. This section of Autoracing.com is dedicated to the great sport of NASCAR racing and it’s many different facets.
Born in 1934 in Whitney, South Carolina, David Gene Pearson was rated as one of the top two stock car drivers in the world. He competed for the title against Richard Petty – himself a notable and excellent driver. During the course of his career David Pearson came to be called the ‘Silver Fox’ – a glint of light pulsing on the raceway. He made his racing debut on the Grand National racing circuit in 1960, where he took the Rookie of the Year award that year. Right from the start it was obvious that he was at the top of his game and he won the 1966, 1968 and the 1969 NASCAR Championships. His stiffest competition came from Richard Petty and their continual duels for first place are most memorable.
David Pearson’s NASCAR Winston Cup driving career started in 1960 and ended in 1986. During those twenty-six years he managed to achieve every accomplishment possible. In the majority of his races he constantly fought Richard Petty for first place and the two had a number of firsts and seconds to their names. Pearson won the national championships three times in the short four year period that he ran for it. He raced a staggering total of 574 events and he won 105 of them. He also enjoyed 113 pole positions during his racing career. The most memorable battle between Pearson and Petty occurred at the 1976 Daytona 500 when the two collided into the wall after slamming against each other’s front fender. Petty’s car spun off the track and he was left to watch helplessly as Pearson’s car limped across the finish line to claim first place.
In additiona to his numerous victories, Pearson also managed to receive a number of awards. He took the ‘Most Popular Driver’ Award in 1979 and 1980. In 1990 he was inducted in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and in 1998 he was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. He was also made a part of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1993. Pearson is one of only eight drivers to have won a Career Grand Slam in the history of NASCAR racing. Before retiring in 1986, Pearson built a family-run garage which incorporated his three sons in various roles and which won the Busch Grand National championship in 1986 and 1987. Unfortunately the team was disbanded in 1990 but most of his sons are still actively racing.
Terrance Lee Labonte, a former NASCAR driver, was born on November 16, 1956, in Corpus Christi, Texas. As a youngster Labonte was surrounded by the sport through his father, who would work on his friends racecars as a hobby. Terry is the older brother of Bobby Labonte, 2000 NASCAR and Winston Cup champion, and father of Justin Labonte, Busch Series driver.
At the age of seven, Terry Labonte began racing quarter-midgets and when he was nine he won the national championships. Later as a teenager he moved to local short tracks in a stock car. Terry won track championships on both dirt and asphalt in his hometown, in San Antonio and Houston from 1975 to 1977.
Terry Labonte took part in his first NASCAR race in 1978 at Darlington Raceway. Then in 1979 he competed against Dale Earnhardt, Joe Millikan and Harry Gant for the NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year. Although he did not win he did finish as one of the top three rookies to get into the top ten in points. His season ended with thirteen top-ten finishes. The following year he took part in the Winston Cup race on Labor Day and won it.
In 1986 Terry announced that he would be leaving the Hagan’s team for the Junior Johnson and Associates. This move proved successful and he earned four pole-position starts as well as winning the Holly Farms 400. Again he moved teams, and this time he joined the #1 Skoal Classic Oldsmobile team under Precision Products Racing.
Labonte joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1994, and in 1996 he broke Richard Petty’s streak for consecutive races. Although he only had two wins that year he won the championship as well. In 2000 his consecutive race wins were broken at 655 due to an inner ear injury at the Pepsi 400, forcing him to miss the Global Crossing @ The Glen and the Brickyard 400.
The year 2003 was Labonte’s first pole win since 2000 and he also made his second career major. Terry Labonte then announced that 2004 would be his last full year on the circuit and that for the next two years he would instead participate on a part-time basis. The last race Labonte took part in, in 2006, was the Dickies 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway.
The NHRA recently released the details for the 2009 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. But it isn’t the 24 different events that have everyone talking – it’s the more than $1.3 million purse! The figure is higher than ever before and even beats estimates of what it might have risen to, so fans are excited and drivers are setting their minds on trying to place in next years fantastic NHRA drag racing series.
So exactly how is all that money going to be divided up? There are, after all, 24 different races on the calendar. Well, it starts with the Top Fuel and Funny Car national events which each have a purse of $50 000 (about 25% more than this year). The next biggest winners will be the Pro Stock drivers who stand to take $25 000 home, followed by Pro Stock Motorcyclists who could win $10 000. However even these figures are completely dwarfed by the most prestigious drag racing event in the world – the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. The year 2009 will see that 55th running of this massive race and winners of the top two nitro classes will each walk away with a check for a cool $100 000. The event’s Pro Stock winner will take $50 000, while the Pro Stock Motorcycle winner will be able to look forward to spending $20 000. Increases in prize money will also be made for semifinalists, second-round finishers and runner-ups in a number of the different races. The total purse increase for the Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle classes is $1 353 700. For many drivers this is the stuff dreams are made of.
The 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule takes place in the following order: NHRA Winternationals (Pomona), Checker Schuck’s Kragen NHRA Nationals (Phoenix), ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals (Gainesville), O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals (Houston), SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals (Las Vagas), Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals (Atlanta), Midwest Nationals (Madison), O’Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals (Bristol), O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals (Topeka), NHRA Route 66 Nationals (Chicago), NHRA SuperNationals (Englishtown), Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals (Norwalk), NHRA Winternationals (Pomona), Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals (Denver), Schuck’s Auto Supply NHRA Nationals (Seattle), Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals (Sonoma), Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals (Brainerd), Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals (Reading), Mac Tools U.S. Nationals (Indianapolis), NHRA Nationals (Concord), O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals (Dallas), O’Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals (Memphis), Virginia NHRA Nationals (Richmond), ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals (Las Vegas), Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals (Pomona). The races will take place between Feb 5 and November 15, so racing fans have a whole lot of great racing to look forward to.