a glossary of driving terms
4WD Four wheel drive
ABS Anti-lock Braking System
Acceleration The change of velocity per unit
time. It has both a direction and a magnitude. Acceleration in the direction
opposite of the velocity is commonly called deceleration.
Apex (noun) The point in a turn where the car
comes the closest to the inside of the track. see clipping point
Apex (verb) To cause the car to come to the inside
edge of the track
Armco, Metal barriers.
AWD, All Wheel Drive
Bench racing Talking about racing. The stories
are usually loosely based on fact.
Berm Concrete curbing at the edge of the track.
Botz dot The little reflector dots between lanes
on public roads.
Brain Fade Not paying attention to what you are
doing. Spacing out.
Braking point The point at the entrance of
the turn at which you first apply the brakes.
CCR Club Codes and Regulations. The N.A.S.A. rulebook.
Centrifugal Force Something that physicists
will tell you doesn't really exist. The inertia of a car wanting to go straight
will seem to force a car to the outside of the turn. It doesn't really want
to go away from the center, just straight.
Clipping point Where your inside wheels touch
the inside edge of the track.
Circle of friction A concept used to
explain the traction abilities and limitations of a car. There is a finite
limit to the vector sum of the forces a tinore can apply betwen the car and
Coefficient of friction The ratio
between the sideways force generated by an object and the vertical force
applied to it.
Confidence lift Briefly lifting the throttle
off of the floor at the entrance of a turn. The foot is lifted and replaced
just about as fast as possible. The primary effect on the car is to put a
little extra weight on the front wheels to aid in turn down. It is usually
really done because the driver's subconcious doesn't think he can make the
turn without slowing down. Hence the name, it gives the subconcious confidence
without greatly slowing the car.
Defensive line The fastest path around a
turn that safely makes it difficult for someone to pass. It differs from
the qualifying line by entering the turn a little less than a car width from
Dicing Competing for position.
Downshift Putting the transmission into a lower
gear so the engine will turn faster at the same road speed.
Dragons Teeth, (no-no's) Short berms with
small bumps or ridges in them that discourage driving on them.
Drift Exiting a turn with all four tires in a controlled
slide. Often the steering wheel is straight, the car is aimed down the straight
and throttle is full on. The centrifugal force carries the car to the outside
of the track.
Driver's Left The left side, as seen by a
driver facing the proper direction on a race track.
Driver's Right The right side, as seen by
a driver facing the proper direction on a race track.
Early apex An apex before the geometric apex.
This will leave you pointing at the outside of the track on the exit of the
turn. In this case you will have to either slow down and turn the steering
wheel more, or exit the track.
Ergonomics The study of making things easy and
comfortable for people to use.
FIA International automobile racing sanctioning body
FIA curbing Red and white cement berms placed
at the apex and exit of turns. These keep the edge of the asphalt from crumbling
from drivers driving off of the edge ot the track.
Flat As in "taking it flat out". Keeping the throttle
flat on the floor. Not braking or even lifting.
Flat spot (verb)Wearing a flat spot into
the tread of a tire, sometimes all of the way to the belts. Usually done
by spinning the car, or locking up the brakes.
Formula car An open-wheeled race car. Indy and
formula one cars are well known examples.
Full lock Turning the steering wheel to the full
extent of its travel.
G.C.R. General Competion Rules. The rulebook for
roadracing in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).
Geometric apex Halfway around a turn. If
you were to draw an arc of the largest possible radius through the turn,
the "apex" would be in the middle of the turn. You only apex at this point
on very high speed turns when you don't need to slow down and want to maintain
the maximum speed through the turn.
Horsepower A measure of energy per unit of time,
equal to 745.7 watts. Also directly related to torque multiplied by rpm.
Hot-pits An area next to the track where work can
be done on the car during a track session.
I.C.S.C.C. (the Conference) International Conference
of Sports Car Clubs, a race sanctioning body active in the Pacific Northwest.
I.M.S.A. International Motor Sports Association,
a race sanctioning body.
Late apex An apex after the geometric apex. Allows
an exit from the turn with less steering and more acceleration.
Lateral acceleration A measurement
of how fast something is going around a turn. Measured in g's., one-g
being the acceleration of a falling object at sea level in a vacuum.
Line The path taken around either a turn or a race
Lockup When the brakes are applied so hard that
the wheels stop turning.
Marbles The little balls of melted rubber from race
tires that collect on the outside of turns. If you drive from the line into
the marbles, you will find yourself suddenly losing traction.
N.A.S.A. National Auto Sport Association, a race
Oops A comment often made just before an expensive
lesson in the laws of physics.
Opposite lock Turning the steering wheel the
opposite direction that the car is turning. If the car is oversteering around
a right hand turn, turn the steering wheel to the left to regain control.
This points the front wheels in the direction the car is heading, even if
the rear wheels are pointing 90 degrees from the direction of travel.
Overcook To enter a turn "too hot" (too fast).
Rather than making a smooth line out of the turn, you end up having to scrub
off speed during the turn, or worse, go off course.
Oversteer What scares the passenger. What causes
the rear end of the car to hit the wall. When the rear end of the car loses
traction. When the car turns more than it should.
Pauli Principle (or Pauli Exclusion
electrons with the same spin cannot occupy the same orbit. Attempts to violate
this principle on the track are expensive and pointless.
Driving a car in such a manner as to not only use more of it's
performance capabilities than one would (or should) on the street, but
so as to require more skill and technique. Unlike racing, it is not
competitive, and some margin is left so as to minimize the chance of
an "Oops" where the car attempts to
violate the Pauli Principle.
Pre-grid The place to wait in your car before going
out on track.
Qualifying Line The fastest line for a solitary
car to drive around a race track.
Red Mist The condition where ego or testosterone
poisoning overcomes one's knowledge of one's mortality. Generally entered
when a driver is passed, or sees a faster car ahead to try and catch. Results
in missed flags, embarassment, and an oops at worst.
RCH A traditional machinists unit of measure. A very
small amount, less than can be accurately measured.
m RCU Race Car Unit, $100. The smallest quantity
of money that ever seems to be spent at one time on a race car.
RPM Revolutions per minute, a measurement of engine
S/F The start-finish line.
School line A fast yet safe line around the track
taught to beginning drivers. Usually very similar to the qualifying line
with later apexes.
Shortshifting Upshifting at a lower RPM than
Skid When the car is moving, but the tires are not
rolling in the direction of travel. The brakes could be locked up, or the
car is not facing the direction it is heading (oversteer), or the front wheels
are turned and the car is still going straight (understeer).
Slicks Tires specially made for racing that have
no grooves cut into the tread. Much softer and stickier than street tires,
but hazardous under wet track conditions.
Slip angles The difference between the direction
a tires is pointing and the direction it is going.
Smoothness No discontinuities in the higher
order derivitives of the cars velocity and acceleration.
Spin, loop When the car achieves more than 90 degrees
of oversteer. In other words, it goes into a skid in which the back of the
car passes the front of the car.
Sports Racer A purpose built race car, where
the tires are enclosed in the body work. The Can-Am series and Le Mans racers
are well known examples.
Stuffing the car What often happens immediatley
after and pursuant to an Oops.
Surface flag The red and yellow flag. Also
called the oil flag. There is something on the racing surface.
Target fixation Concentrating so hard on
something you don't want to hit, that you drive right into it. Remember,
you tend to steer where you are looking.
Threshold braking Braking just on the
verge of lockup.
Throttle steering Adjusting your line
through a turn by increasing or decreasing the throttle, rather than turning
the steering wheel.
Tight (Also low or inside) On the inside of a turn
Torque Force times Distance. A 10 pound force on
a 1 foot lever will generate the same torque as a 1 pound force on a 10 foot
Trailing throttle oversteer
(see Porsche) An oversteer condition caused by lifting off of the throttle
in a turn. Tail heavy cars are very prone to this.
Turn down point The point at which you turn
the steering wheel at the entrance of the turn.
Turn-in turn down
Understeer What scares the driver. What causes
the front end of the car to hit the wall. When the front end of the car loses
traction. When the car turns less than it should.
Upshift Shifting the car into a higher gear so that
the engine will turn slower at the same road speed.
WFO Full throttle.
Wide (also high or outside) The outside portion of
Copyright (C) 2003 Larry Colen
Most recently modified by lrc at Wed May 28 09:57:18