Terminology You Might Hear
Bracket racing – Cars are grouped for competition according to their performance levels, these groups are called brackets; for example, all cars that run 14 seconds or slower are in the “street” bracket.
Breakout – Used only in handicap racing, “breakout” refers to a contestant running quicker than he or she “dialed” his or her vehicle (predicted how quick it would run). Unless the opponent commits a more serious foul (e.g., red-lights, crosses the centerline), the driver who breaks out loses. If both drivers break out, the one who runs closest to his or her dial is the winner.
Burnout- Spinning the rear tires in water to heat and clean them prior to a run for better traction. A burnout precedes every run.
Classes – Groups racers put themselves into, to make sure that like races like.
Christmas tree – The starting lights. It’s used to position the racers correctly and to start the race.
Deep stage – To roll a few inches farther into the beams after staging, which causes the pre-stage lights to go out. In that position, a driver is closer to the finish line but dangerously close to a foul start.
Dial-in – The E.T. you think your car is going to run, determined by your time trials.
Diaper – An absorbent blanket made from ballistic material, often Kevlar, that surrounds the oil pan to contain oil and parts in case of an engine explosion.
E.T. – (elapsed time) – The time it takes a vehicle to travel from the starting line to the finish line.
Eliminations – After qualifying, vehicles race two at a time, resulting in one winner from each pair. Winners continue in tournament-style competition until one remains.
Full Tree – (Sportsman Tree) – Used in Competition, Super Stock, and Stock, for which a handicap starting system is used to equalize competition. The three amber bulbs on the Christmas Tree flash consecutively five-tenths of a second apart, followed five-tenths later by the green starting light. A perfect reaction time on a full Tree is .500.
Grudge – The most basic form of drag racing. Both racers start at the same time and whoever crosses the line first wins.
Heads Up – Is the purest form of racing based on an even start with the first vehicle to reach the finish line being the winner.
Handicap Racing – Handicapping compensates for the difference between competing vehicles to produce closer and more exiting racing.
Holeshot – When a driver reacts quicker to the Christmas Tree to win a race against an opponent with a quicker e.t.
Interval timers – Part of a secondary timing system that records elapsed times, primarily for the racers’ benefit, at 60, 330, 660, and 1,000 feet.
Nitromethane – Produced specifically as a fuel for drag racing, it is the result of a chemical reaction between nitric acid and propane.
Nitrous oxide – Adds serious horsepower to a car, in sanctioned drag racing it is like a wild card–it can get the job done but extra horsepower can easily lead to a break out or a breakdown.
Pit – The area where cars come in for fuel, tires, adjustments and repairs during on-track sessions. The name originated from early race tracks, where the mechanics actually stood in a shallow pit where they could duck if an out-of-control car came their way.
Pre-stage – To position the front wheels about seven inches behind the starting line so the small yellow lights atop that driver’s side of the Christmas Tree are glowing.
Pro Tree – Used in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Truck, Pro Stock Bike, Federal-Mogul Dragster, Federal-Mogul Funny Car, Super Comp, Super Gas, and Super Street, which feature heads-up competition. All three large amber lights on the Christmas Tree flash simultaneously, followed four-tenths of a second later by the green starting light. A perfect reaction time on a Pro Tree is .400.
Qualifying – Qualifying determines starting positions, and usually consists of the combined results from two on-track sessions. Each car is timed, and the starting grid is determined by the order of fastest cars.
Reaction time – The time it takes a driver to react to the green starting light on the Christmas Tree, measured in thousandths of a second. The reaction-time counter begins when the last amber light flashes on the Tree and stops when the vehicle clears the stage beam.
Red-light – This occurs when the driver reacts too quickly and drives away from the starting line before the green light activates.
Sandbagging Finish-line driving – It’s like slowing down the car and trying to pace the other racer so that he breaks out or at least breaks out more than you do.
Slicks – Race only tires with no tread designed for maximum traction on dry surfaces.
Speed Trap – This is the last 60 feet to the finish line. It is in this area that the speed is recorded. The second set of numbers-the bottom set-is the speed that has been recorded in the “speed trap”.
Stage – To position the front wheels right on the starting line so the small yellow lights below the pre-stage lights are glowing. Once both drivers are staged, the calibrated countdown may begin.
Staging lanes – That’s where you see all the cars that are going to race line up and wait and wait and wait until it’s their turn to do their thing.
Tech – Tech inspection is where the track inspectors check over your vehicle and make sure that you have the minimum safety requirements.
Timeslip – This is a ticket that you’re given after you race. It’s basically a chart showing what your E.T. and speed was at various points along the track, during your race.
Wheelie bar(s) – Used to prevent excessive front-wheel lift.