February 20, 2005


Today's the biggest NASCAR race of the year, the Daytona 500. It's the culmination of Speedweeks and the combination of Opening Day and the Super Bowl for the racing circuit.
Anyway. I know most Salad Bowl reader(s) probably aren't that familiar with the ins and outs of racing, so here's a little glossary for the uninitiated. Feel free to bone up before you spend 4 hours watching the race:
Apron. In racing, an apron is the paved area directly below the racing surface that separates the track from the infield.

Banking. The slope of a track from the wall to the apron, generally measured in the corners.

Bite. Bite is a car's ability to "stick," or adhere, to the track.

Caution. A period in racing in which track conditions are too hazardous for racing due to an accident or debris on the racing surface.

Dialed in. When a car's performing at its maximum. Also called "hooked up."

Drafting. The practice of following immediately behind another car to take advantage of the lead car's "punching a hole" in the wind.

Handling. A reference to a race car's performance with relation to the driver's ability to control it. Suspension, tires and air flow all contribute.

Loose. A handling condition in which the car's rear end wants to go straight or right (up the banking) when the car is turned to the left. Also called oversteer.

Marbles. Believe it or not, marbles in racing are loose debris, such as rubber and asphalt, that collect on the track and cause a car to lose traction. Where do they get this stuff, anyway?

Pace car. The official car that leads competitors at a safe speed during caution periods and restarts.

Pit road. The paved roadway that leads into the pit area.

Pit stop. It's when drivers maneuver their race cars into the pit area for fuel, tires and mechanical adjustments.

Restrictor plate. A plate attached to the carburetor that limits the amount of airflow entering the combustion chamber.

Road course. A closed course with turns to both the right and the left.

Running on rails. Used to describe a car that is handling perfectly, as if it was literally attached to a rail.

Short track. Any oval- or circle-shaped course less than one mile long.

Slingshot. A slingshot is a maneuver in which the driver of the trailing vehicle in a draft line breaks the draft by turning (usually to the left if on an oval track), propelling the car around the leader.

Stagger. The difference in the circumference of the tires on the right and left sides of the car. Since oval track racing is always done turning left, teams put larger tires on the right to help the car naturally turn left.

Superspeedway. Any oval or circle-shaped track more than one mile long.

Tight. On the track it's a handling condition in which the car's front end wants to go straight when the wheel is turned left. Also called understeer or push.

Posted by Jeff at February 20, 2005 10:16 AM
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