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Glossary of Drag Racing Terms

Fire Burnout

Drag racing is the fastest auto competion in the world. Speeds are now reaching into the 340 m.p.h. range by the AA Class fuel dragters. When drag racing first started speeds of 100 m.p.h. in a quarter mile were unheard of, now 50 years later some automobiles that are almost stock, are capable of reaching the 100 m.p.h. mark.

Along with the growth of "dragging" a lot of new terms were added to our language.

In response to several E-mails asking about terms used in drag racing, I have added this glossary.

These definitions are short, as time and space will allow. I'm sure a complete book could be written on the various terms used by racers. I hope that in some small way these terms will help anyone just getting started or anyone who always wondered what a term meant.

These terms are done from memory therefore, I'm sure I have left out a few. If you have any corrections, additions, or comments, please E-mail me and I will make the corrections.

  1. A.H.R.A-American Hot Rod Association
  2. ALCOHOL-Also a racing fuel
  3. A.T.-Automatic transmission
  4. BLEACH BOX-An area behind the starting line, the cars drove into the box, then spun the rear wheels in bleach to heat them and also to clean them. The hotter the tire the better the traction, the bleach soften the rubber
  5. BIG BLOCK-Ford or Chevy engine above 360 cubic inches, usually referring to the Chevy "Rat Motor"
  6. BLOWER-A supercharger, orginally used on GMC diesel engines, racers modified them for higher speeds for use on race cars. Sizes varied frm 3-71, 4-71,6-71 and 8-71, most common was the 6-71
  7. BLUE PRINTING-To bring an engine to the exact tolerance for racing
  8. BORED-To enlarge the cylinder size of an engine, resulting in more cubic inch displacement
  9. BRACKET RACING-Amateur racing where cars of near equal times compete on a handicap system
  10. BRAIN BUCKET-Helmet worn by drivers
  11. BUCKET SEAT-Seat made for one person
  12. BUG CATCHER-A type of fuel injection system
  13. BURNOUT-Term for spinning the tires to lay down a track of hot, fresh rubber. Then the driver backed up into these tracks to get the most traction at the start. Burnouts are fun to watch because of the noise and smoke created
  14. BUTTERFLY WHEEL-Steering wheel used in Rail or Funny Cars, shape of two butterfly wings
  15. CARB-Carburetor
  16. CAM-Engine part which runs the valves. Early cams were 3/4 race and full race
  17. CHANNELED-Lowering the body over the frame rails, to lower the profile of the car
  18. CHOPPED-Having the roof line lowered on a car
  19. CHRISTMAS TREE OR TREE-Starting lights. Made up of yellow, amber, green and red lights. The yellow light is the pre-stage lights and stage lights, the amber light tells the driver to get ready, the green lights is go, and the red light means the driver has fouled and is disqualified (Jump the Start)
  20. CHUTE-Parachute used to slow the cars at the end of the raceway, these are required on the faster cars, some use more than one chute.
  21. CUDA-Barracuda model by Plymouth
  22. DIAL IT IN-To tune and adjust the car for the track conditions
  23. DIAL YOUR OWN-Choosing your time from time trials to fit into that time bracket in order to race cars of equal or near equal times
  24. DOOR SLAMMER-A car in which the doors still open and close
  25. DRAG RACE-An acceleration contest between two cars over a one-quarter mile straightaway. The cars also race the clock for speed and elapsed time (E.T.)
  26. DRAG STRIP OR STRIP-The area used for drag racing, it includes the race track, pits, spectator area, timing tower, etc.
  27. DUAL QUADS-Two 4-barrel carburetor
  28. DUECE-A 1932 Ford, can also refer to a Chevy II
  29. E.T.-The elasped time between breaking the light beam on the starting line and the light beam at the end of the one-quarter mile
  30. FAT FENDER-Older model car which still had fenders and running boards
  31. F.I.-Fuel injection system used on some race cars. A better fuel system than the carburetor
  32. FIRESUIT-Suit worn by drivers of faster cars for fire protection, it covers everything except the drivers eyes.
  33. FLOPPERS-Also call Funny Cars
  34. 4-SPEED-A four speed manual transmission
  35. FRONT ENGINE DRAGSTER-A dragster with the engine mounted in front of the driver. The driver is placed behind the rear wheels. The design is credited to Mickey Thompson around 1953
  36. FUNNY CAR-A specially built car based on a stock automobile body, but with a frame and engine like a Slingshot Dragster. The bodies are made from fiberglass or carbon fiber. These car are almost as fast as the Rails.
  37. GASSER-Class of cars of various makes or model, running on pump gas
  38. GEAR-The read-end gear ratio, part of the rear axle assembly
  39. HEADER-Exhaust manifolds designed for best power and performance
  40. HEMI-Engine with combustion chambers, Hemispherical
  41. I.H.R.A-International Hot Rod Association
  42. JET CAR-Cars powered by jet engines
  43. MAG-Magneto, a devise used to fire the sparkplugs
  44. MOUSE MOTOR-A small block Chevy engine, usually 350 cubic inch or smaller.
  45. NAILHEAD BUICK-Early model Buick overhead valve engine
  46. NITRO-Nitro methane fuel used by most fuel racers. It is mixed with other fuels in order to control power, the more nitro, the more power
  47. N.H.R.A.-National Hot Rod Association
  48. PITS-Area in which the cars are worked on during the racing
  49. PRO-STOCK-A highly modified stock production car
  50. POLISHED-To polish the tunnels and the combustion chambers, to prevent hot spots and to improve air-flow
  51. PORTED-To enlarge the tunnels in the heads to improve air-fuel flow into the engine
  52. PUFFER-See Blower
  53. RACING FOR PINK SLIPS-In the early days of racing hotrods and drag racing, racers would sometimes race for the "PINK SLIP" of the opposing car. Meaning to race for ownership of the car
  54. RAIL OR RAIL JOB-See Slingshot
  55. RAT MOTOR-A chevy engine, 396 cubic inch and larger
  56. REAR ENGINE DRAGSTER-A dragster with the engine mounted behind the driver, considered to be much safer than a front engine rail. The modern rear engine rail was designed and perfected by "Big Daddy" Don Garlits in 1971, after losing part of a foot in a clutch explosion
  57. ROLL BAR-Also called roll cage now, a bar or tube above the drivers head in case of a rollover. Now almost all cars, except the slower stock classes, use a complete cage to protect the driver
  58. SCREW THE CLUTCH-To adjust the clutch in or out, in order to get more or less power the the rear wheels, to tighten or to loosen
  59. SLICKS-Wide rear tires used on drag cars for best possible traction. There are no grooves or treads on these tires. Several companies make these, the best known are Goodyear and M&H Tire.
  60. SLINGSHOT-The fastest type of drag racing car, built just for drag racing, these cars are now going over 340 m.p.h. in less than five seconds
  61. SMOKE THE TIRES-To lose traction during a race, the tires start to spin and create smoke
  62. STAGING AREA-Area in which care are placed to line up and wait their turn to race
  63. STANG-Mustang model by Ford
  64. STROKED-Enlarging an engine by changing the lenght of the crankshaft travel, thereby changing the length of travel of the piston within the cylinder bore, in doing so gaining more cubic inch displacement
  65. SUPERCHARGER-a device to force the air-fuel mixture into the engine
  66. TECH-Techinal inspection where cars are checked for safety and to be classified
  67. THRASHING-To work on the car as fast as possible in order to make the race, sometimes means to work all night to be ready for racing the next day
  68. TIP THE CAN-To use the maximum amount of Nitro mixture, (i.e. 98%)
  69. TOP SPEED-The speed attained by the car at the end of a one-quarter mile. This is measured 66 ft in front of and 66 ft past the finish line for a total of 132 ft. or one-tenth of a quarter mile(1320ft)
  70. TRANNY-Transmission
  71. TRAPS-The light beams at the end of the track used to measure speed (i.e. He went 298 m.p.h. in the traps)
  72. U.D.R.A.-United Drag Racing Association
  73. WATER BOX-Same as Bleach box, water is now used instead of bleach
  74. WEDGE-Engine with a wedge type combustion chambers
  75. WHEELIE-Wheelstand, lifting the front wheels under accleration
  76. WHEELIE BAR-A device installed on the rear of a car to prevent wheelstand
  77. WING-Used on the faster cars for steering control and down force. The larger wing is used on the rear, a smaller one may be used on the front
  78. WRENCHING-To work on the car

"TV" Tommy Ivo's Four Engine Dragster

Front Engine Slingshot Wheel Stand