Just like every other sport out there, car racing has its own set of rules and jargon. WRC, NASCAR, Formula 1, and other race car drivers often communicate in a code that hinders the competition and audience from knowing their strategy, as well as removing any doubt regarding what the driver means.
The drivers and the pit team communicate using words that are unfamiliar to most viewers, which can sometimes be frustrating to the audience since they'll want to know everything the team is planning and also want a better understanding of what's going on. And just to make things even more difficult; Different types of racing often use different words to describe the exact same thing. In this article, we've compiled a tiny fraction of the jargon racing teams use to communicate that most people don't know.
20 Kick A Leg Out Of Bed
Kick a leg out of bed might sound funny, but we can guarantee you that the driver it happens to doesn't see it that way. It actually refers to when an engine breaks a connecting rod which then penetrates the engine block and ends a driver's day on the track. Announcers describe this as the engine "blowing up."
Recce is a rallying term for reconnaissance. It basically means that the driver and co-driver get to drive through the stages at the legal speed limit in order to make adjustments to the notes. Once the notes are accurate, then the timing of the note becomes critical in order to avoid ending up in a ditch.
"Tidy" is a term used in rallying that means "don't hang it out". It lets the driver know that he needs to keep the car clean in the center of the road through the next section. It could be because of ruts on either side or little drainage walls like in the mountains at WRC Mexico.
17 Bump Drafting
Similar to drafting, bump drafting occurs when one driver actually bumps the car in front to allow both cars to move faster. Bump drafting can enable two cars to separate themselves from the rest of the field but also entails significant risks as a bump in the wrong location on the track or wrong spot on the lead car can wreck the tandem.
Rubber is a NASCAR term and refers to a piece of rubber that can be inserted into a car's spring to impact the vehicle's handling. While this adjustment takes a few seconds - as it is done with the wheel off of the car - it can result in a significant change in handling.
Scuffs is a slang term for tires that have previously been used on the racetrack but that retain most of their structural integrity. Using scuffs reduces the costs for a team and also ensures that the tire itself will not fail when first exposed to the heat created by the friction of the car accelerating on a track.
Stickers are also referred to as 'sticker tires', and it just means brand-new tires that have not previously been used in any way. Drivers derived the term from the manufacturer's stickers affixed to each new tire's contact surface. We're not sure it's actually faster to say sticker tires rather than 'new tires', perhaps it's just to sound cooler?
13 Green Track
"Green track" is another term that originates from NASCAR and is used to describe a track that, due to a recent rainstorm, is now free of any rubber buildup on the racing surface. A green track will cause increased tire wear but it will also increase the grip for the cars.
12 The Groove
The Groove, also known as the racing line, is an invisible 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 depends on factors like temperature, moisture, oil, water and rubber deposited on the track during a race – all of which impact race conditions to various degrees.
Marbles are loose pieces of rubber that accumulate near the wall on a racetrack as the race goes on. Often described as 'The Marbles', a car will slide and become uncontrollable if it enters this area, acting as if it's driving on ice - drivers also tend to lose their marbles when that happens.
The slingshot is a maneuver where the car following the leader in a draft will abruptly pull to the side to steer around it - thus breaking the vacuum. When the trailing vehicle breaks the vacuum of the leader it provides an extra burst of speed that allows the second car to take the lead.
9 Burn Off
Burn Off refers to burning fuel during the course of a race. As the fuel level becomes lower, the car will become lighter and as a result, its handling characteristics change. Burn off is challenging both the driver and the crew to make adjustments to both the car and driving style in order to achieve balance.
8 Aero Push
Aero Push is when a car is following another vehicle closely, the airflow from the lead vehicle does not travel across the following car in a normal manner. Therefore, down-force on the front of the trailing vehicle is decreased and it does not turn as well in the corners, resulting in an "aero push." This condition is more apparent on the exit of the turns.
7 Center Of Pressure
It's time for an Indy term. The center of pressure is the point on an Indy car under-wing that receives the greatest amount of airflow pressure. This measurement is critical to setting front to rear balance, especially on superspeedways. Imagine what happens if the balance is set up wrong on one of these superfast race cars.
Compound is short for tire compound - the rubber blend used in tires. In some racing series, teams can choose their tire compound based on the track and weather conditions. A softer compound tire provides better traction but wears out much faster than a harder compound tire which doesn't provide as much grip.
5 Full Tank Practice
Full Tank Practice is when the race teams fill their fuel tanks for the last practice before a race in order to test the car's handling characteristics. Before this, they practice and qualify with a limited amount of fuel in the tank to decrease the vehicle's weight and gain speed.
4 Box Box Box
In F1, when the team feels that the driver should make a pit stop, they yell "pit this lap" or "box this lap." The area in front of the team's garage is called a 'pit box.' When the team notices something they need to attend to immediately, the engineer will tell the driver "box, box, box," so he knows he needs to make an emergency pit stop.
3 Opposite Lock
Opposite Lock just means to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction of the corner until the wheel won’t turn anymore - it's reached full lock in the opposite direction. Basically, you can think of it as maximum countersteer and it usually precedes a spin or going off the track.
2 Racer's Tape
Racer's Tape is heavy duty duct tape that's being used to temporarily repair body parts hanging off the car, which might hinder aerodynamic features and decrease performance. Most commonly used on closed-wheel cars, such as NASCAR or drifting, which use more paneling than open-wheel cars like Indy and F1 and are accustomed to more contact.
1 Shut Down
Shut Down means exactly what it sounds like - turning a car off in order to avoid mechanical damage or an accident. Often times, drivers shut down the car so a mechanical problem won't lead to more severe and expensive consequences. Drag racers often shut their cars down when they get out of control.