Dirt 101

What is Dirt Track racing?

Dirt track racing is a form of automobile racing that takes place on an oval track whose surface is primarily composed of clay and dirt. Racing on dirt became very popular during the 1920’s and 1930’s as these daredevils on dirt were a common event at fairgrounds across the states. Two types of race cars dominate the sport: open wheel cars and stock cars. Dirt track racing is the single most common form of auto racing in the United States. It is also popular in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom. The glossary provided has a description of many of the terms used at dirt track
races.

Race Night Glossary

A-Main Event – Also called the “Feature.” The feature event is the biggest race of the program for each class. This is the race that has the most cars, points, prize money, and is generally from 20 to 50 laps.

Arm Restraints – Straps attached to a driver’s arms to limit range of motion and keep the arms and hands inside the car in case of a flip.

Attrition – The rate at which cars drop out of a race. This is due to mechanical failures or crashes.

Back Marker – A car running at the rear of the field. Back Out – When a driver takes his foot off the gas pedal (all the way or part way), he “backs out”

Banking – The slope of the turns, which can help cars enter and exit the corners. A flat track would have 0 degrees of banking. A track with 15 degrees would have significant banking. The higher the degree of
banking, the faster the cars will be able to travel.

Bead Lock – A device used to fasten the tire bead to the wheel rim. This helps to keep the tire on the wheel and prevents the tire from slipping.

Binders – Brakes. Used in the expression “jumped on the binders.”

Bite – The amount of traction that a race car has at the rear wheels.

Black Flag – Signals a driver to pull immediately into the pits for safety reasons. Failure to enter pits after receiving the black flag can result in disqualification.

Bladder – The bladder keeps the fuel from spilling and catching fire in the case of a rear impact.

Blistering – Racing tires when they overheat. The top layer of rubber comes off in small chunks.

Blue Flag w/ Yellow Stripe – This flag is displayed to direct the cars to allow the traffic lapping them to pass without delay.

B-Main Event – The “last chance race” to get into the A Main (or Feature) event.

Bull Ring – An oval track of a half-mile or less.

Catch Fence – The fence along the wall that protects spectators from errant cars, parts, etc.

Caution – A yellow flag condition, where no passing is allowed (unless ordered by officials for racing order) and cars must slow down.

Chassis – The basic frame/structure of a race car to which all other components are attached.

Checked Out – Expression when the leader drives away from the rest of the field and will seem impossible to catch.

Chute – A race track straightaway.

Class - There are varying levels of modifications made in both open wheeled and stock cars, each level is considered a class. (Examples: Late Model, A Mod, B Mod, Mod Lite, Stock, Hobby Stock, Sport Compact, Bomber, Sprints)

Collected – When a car is caught in an incident that they did not cause. If a car spins and is struck by a second car to a stop, the second car is said to be collected.

Cone – Marker to indicate the starting spot for the race.

Crossed Flags – The race has reached the half-way point.

Crew Chief – Lead mechanic that makes decisions or implements changes to the car for racing conditions.

Cushion – A dirt curb or edge formed by cars running the same line in a corner.

Dicing – Close, exciting driving between 2 or more racers. Positions are exchanged frequently.

DNF – Did not finish.

DNQ – Did not qualify.

DNS – Did not start.

Dialing In – The driver and crew making setup adjustments for better handling.

Diamond – Taking corners by driving into them fairly straight and then making a sharp turn in the middle of the corner. The car will then drive out of the corner fairly straight. This will give a diamond-shaped
trajectory around the track.

Dirt Track – A track that is made with dirt, clay, or a mixture of the two.

DQ – Disqualified from the event. Usually for safety reasons, the car not meeting certain standards, or for negative behavior.

Driver’s Meeting – A meeting prior to the races starting that is conducted by race officials to discuss rule changes, unusual conditions, and race format. All drivers are required to attend.

Dry-Slick – A dry dirt track with little or no moisture. Often associated with a dusty track.

Feature – Main Event.

Fire Suit – Fire-resistant clothing which drivers are required to wear while racing.

Five – The flagwoman will show the field their hand or “five laps to go”

Flashing Yellow Light - One lap to go to start the race.

Fresh Rubber – Adding new tire(s).

Green Flag – Displayed to signify the start of the race.

Grid – Lineup of cars before the start of the race.

Groove – The line through a corner which drivers have found to be the fastest.

Hammer Down – The driver has the gas pedal “to the metal”- full throttle.

Hard Charger – The driver that has passed the most cars in the main event.

Head Sock – A fire resistant head mask.

Heat Race – Race where typically the top finishers will transfer to the main event. The rest of the field will go to the Semi-Main or B-Main.

Hooked Up – A car that is performing great because the chassis setup is right for the track surface.

IMCA – International Motor Contest Association, one of the sanctioning bodies for dirt track racing.

Infield – The inside of the race track.

Inside Line – The shortest line around the track. Also, the part of the track that is closest to the infield.

Jumping The Start – When a driver anticipates the start (green flag) too early. This will cause a complete restart.

Lapped Car – A car that is running slow enough such that the race leader has come all the way around the track and passed it. It is said to be “lapped.”

Lead Lap – The race leader’s lap. If the leader laps you for the first time, you are no longer on the lead lap.

Lights Out – The corner lights go out when the starter is ready to display a green flag.

Line – The route taken by a driver, especially through a turn. The high line is a route close to the wall or “on the cushion”, a low line is closer to the track’s infield and shortest distance around the track.

Loose – Term to describe a condition in which the car’s front tires have more traction than the rear, causing the rear of the car to point toward the outside and the front to point to the inside. Also called “oversteer.”

Main Event – The A-Main is “The Show.” It is the race that pays the racers.

Marbles – Loose dirt on the edge of the track. Contains little or no traction and can result in hitting the track’s wall.

Midget – An open wheel car with the engine in front of the driver and the driver is enclosed in a tall roll cage.

Modifieds – An open-wheeled car with the engine in front of the driver with an enclosed cockpit.

Nomex – A trademark for a fire-resistant fiber often used in fire suits.

Open Wheel – Cars that have their wheels exposed - no fenders.

Oversteer – The condition in which the car’s front tires have more traction than the rear, causing the rear of the car to point toward the outside and the front to point to the inside. Also called “loose.”

Parade Lap – A lap taken by cars at slow speed

Pinched – When a race car on the inside squeezes an outside car by the outside wall. This will cause the outside car to slow down and follow.

Pit – An area beside the track (or in the infield, depending on venue) where cars get serviced.

Pit Crew – The members of the team that services and repairs a race car.

Pole – the inside, front row starting position.

Promoter – Someone who organizes a race, puts up the purse, gets race sponsors, handles advertising and ticket sales, and assumes the financial risk of putting on the race. The promoter might be a track owner or the owner of a series’ rights.

Push – A term to describe a car’s tendency to head toward the outside wall on a turn. The car will not have the ability to turn sharply enough. The front tires have little or no traction. Also called understeer.

Red Flag – The flag used to stop the race. Normally due to a crash.

Red/Yellow Flag – Complete restart. Line up in original starting positions.

Restart – The resumption of a race after a caution or red flag period.

Roll Cage – Welded frame that surrounds the driver for protection.

Rookie – A driver who is inexperienced in the type of cars that he/she
is currently running.

Flag Rookie – A small yellow flag waving from the back of a race car. This indicates to the other drivers that the car is driven by a rookie driver.

Rub – Light contact between 2 or more cars.

Sandbag – To hold back on a car’s performance, during qualifying, to is lead other drivers as to its potential.

Seat Time – Time sitting behind the wheel, competing in a race, qualifying, etc.

Semi-Main – Referred to as the B-Main or last chance race. Transfers will go to the main event and the rest are done for the night.

Shake Down – Testing a brand-new car or engine.

Short Track – A track that is less than a mile long in length.

Slide Job – A passing technique used in the corners to slide up in front of another car.

Sprint Car – An open wheeled race car, typically around 1300 pounds. Composed of a frame (chassis), engine, seat, and a fuel tank.

Stagger – Different size tires are put on the car to lean the car to one side. This helps the car turn and improve cornering.

Stock Car - A car with fenders and original chassis that has otherwise been modified for dirt track racing.

Tacky – A track condition where the racing surface is slightly wet and sticky.

Tear Offs – Clear plastic strips applied to helmet visors. As these strips accumulate debris, a driver will tear a dirty strip off for a clear view.

Tight – A term to describe a car’s tendency to head toward the wall on a turn. Also called pushing or understeering.

Understeer – A condition in which the rear tires have more traction than the front tires. The front tires will slide across the track toward the outside wall rather than turning into the corner. Also called push.

Unlap – A driver down one lap passes the leader to regain their position on the lead lap.

White Flag – Flag used to signify that there is one lap remaining in the race.

Yellow Flag – Flag that signifies caution during a race. Usually resulting from a crash, spin, or debris on the track. Cars are to slow down and not to pass while the hazard is cleared from the track.
Yellow Light – Caution on the track. Maintain position and do not pass.

Driver Registration

Driver Registration



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