Skills and Knowledge
Racing Terminology and Lingo
Road racing has a lot of specific vocab that you need to know to understand what people are saying and to stay safe on the track.
Brake fade: When your braking power decreases due to repeated hard braking, which generates too much heat in the brakes.
Feathering the throttle: Applying very light throttle, generally when you’re driving at the limit of traction and you want to stay there
Heel-toe downshifting: Downshifting while braking in a manual transmission car. The toe is on the brakes while the heel blips the throttle so the revs match that of the gear you're downshifting to.
Money shift: When you accidentally downshift too many gears. For example, you try to downshift from 5th to 4th but go to 2nd instead, causing your revs to jump into redline. This is an over rev and can result in damage to your engine and an expensive repair bill, hence "money" shift.
Oversteer: When you try to turn and the rear wheels lose grip (usually due to accelerating a RWD car during a turn). This causes the rear of your car to spin around, making you turn more than you want to.
Seat time: Amount of time spent practicing driving your car on the track. More seat time will help you go faster than any mod you can make to your car.
Squeeze the throttle: Gradually applying more pressure to your gas pedal to increase acceleration. You will squeeze the throttle when tracking out and unwinding your steering wheel.
Threshold braking: Braking to the limit as quickly as possible. For most street cars this means flooring or almost flooring your brake pedal. However, if you activate ABS (or lock your wheels if you don’t have ABS), that indicates you’ve braked beyond the threshold.
Trail braking: Gradually reducing brake pressure going into a corner. This causes weight to transfer to the front tires, reducing understeer and allowing a sharper turn.
Understeer: When you try to turn and the front wheels lose grip (usually due to excessive speed going into the turn). This makes you to turn less than you want to.
Horsepower: How fast an engine can apply rotational force (torque). High horsepower = fast acceleration and high top speed.
Momentum car: A low-powered, agile car that relies on carrying momentum through corners instead of accelerating hard on straights to go fast.
Torque: How much rotational force your engine can generate. High torque causes the feeling of being pushed into your seat when you step on the gas.
Flags and their meaning may change per event. But below are common flags:
Green flag: Clear track, full speed ahead.
Yellow flag: Caution, slow down. Do not overtake until you see a green flag.
- Single stationary flag: There is a hazard off course.
- Single waving flag: There is a hazard on the track.
- Two waving flags: There is a hazard blocking the track, be prepared to stop. There may be emergency vehicles on the track.
Red and yellow striped flag: Debris on track, be careful.
Red flag: A serious incident has occurred, stop safely in view of a manned flag station.
Black flag: There is a problem with your car or driving. Return to pit lane and talk to the track official.
Black flag all: Black flag with a signing saying "All". This means all cars should return to the pit lane slowly.
Black flag with orange circle: Known as the meatball flag, this signals mechanical failure noticed on your car and you need to return to pit lane to advise what’s wrong.
Checkered flag: Session is over. Slow down and return to pit lane.
Blue flag: A faster car wants to overtake you. You should safely allow them to pass at the next opportunity.
White flag: An emergency vehicle is on the track.
Apex: The point in the turn where you're closest to the inside of the corner. When racing, you will often hit a late apex (after the middle of the turn) so you can straighten out and get on the gas earlier. This gains you more speed on the following straight.
Braking zone: The section of the track before a corner where you should do most of your braking.
Curbing: Multicolor raised sections of pavement on the outside of the track. They give you a wider track to work with. For example, if there is curbing on the inside of a turn, you can make a sharper turn by hitting the apex on the curbing.
Double apex: Some turns will be close enough together where you’ll hit one apex, track out, then turn back in to hit the second apex, creating one big arc with two apexes.
Hairpin: A 180° turn or tight low-speed turn.
Off camber: A turn where the inside edge is higher in elevation than the outside edge. This makes it easier to lose traction, so you need navigate these types of turns slower.
Outlap: The first lap of the day where you go about 60% speed to warm up your tires and engine and identify where the flag stations are.
Paddock: The main parking area of the track which connects to pit lane. When you first arrive at the track you will park in the paddock.
Pit lane: A section beside the main track where you park your cars between sessions or do maintenance on your car.
Racing line: The fastest way around a track. The racing line will vary depending on the car and track conditions. You may hear similar descriptions like time-trial line which favor more specific conditions.
Sweeper: A long and fast corner.
Turn in: The point where you start turning into a corner towards the apex.
Track out: Exiting a corner to the outside of the track as you straighten out and begin squeezing the throttle.