Drag Racing Terms To Learn Before Hitting The Drag Strip

Drag Racing Terms To Know Before Hitting the Track: Part 1

For newcomers to drag racing, learning the lingo is a great way to settle in to the racing community and learn more about the sport. We’ve put together a glossary of words and phrases to know before you hit the drag strip. Part 1 covers the first half of the alphabet letters A-M; Part 2 will pick up with letters N-Z in an upcoming blog.

Awful Awful (source)
Drag racing slang for a AA/FA ("Double A" Fuel Altered) race car.

Supercharger or turbocharger modifications, sometimes grouped as power adders with nitrous; generates more horsepower by increasing engine atmospheric pressure.

Breakout  (source)
When a driver runs quicker than their anticipated dial-in time in a bracket race; results in a loss/DQ unless opposing driver commits a worse foul (like red-lighting or crossing center line).

Performed to heat the tires up for better traction, a burnout happens before every race when the drivers spin their rear tires, often producing smoke and tire skids.

Cackle Fest (source)
A. When two Top Fuel cars or Funny Cars are sitting at the starting line and one or both cars refuse to stage. So-named because the motor noise at idle sounds like a cackle.
B. A “show and shine” for hot rods where the cars are allowed to idle.

Christmas Tree
The electronic fixture at the starting line of a drag strip that signals car positioning (pre-stage and stage) and the start of a race, as well as foul starts. The tree has different colored bulbs: yellow pre-stage and stage lights at the top, three yellow countdown lights, one green start light, and one red foul start light.

Deep Staging
When a drag racer leaves the pre-stage area by crossing the beam and turning off the pre-stage lights, but does not leave the staging area. While this is legal and may give the deep staged driver a small advantage, it also makes it easier to commit a foul start.

In a bracket race, drivers must estimate their anticipated run time. Running faster than dial-in is a foul (see “breakout”). This allows cars which may not be matched in weight or horsepower to compete using a handicap system.

Abbreviation for Elapsed Time. Total time a run takes, from start to finish down the strip.

First or Worse (source)
In drag racing, if both drivers commit the same foul, the driver who commits the foul first loses.  If both drivers commit separate fouls, the driver who committed the worse foul loses. In the case of a double breakout, the driver closer to their index wins. If one driver commits a foul start, but the opponent crosses a boundary line (wall or center line), the driver who commits the red light wins.

Funny Car
Also called a flopper. A drag car with a single-piece body draped over the chassis with lift off or rear-hinge cabin access.

When there is a visible distance between two competing cars in a head’s up drag race.

Class of drag car running on gasoline rather than methanol or nitromethane.

Head’s Up (source)
A head’s up drag race is a winner-take-all race where both cars leave the starting line simultaneously, rather than using a dial-in or handicap.

Hook Up (source)
When good grip between tires and track results in better traction, increased acceleration and reduced slipping and smoking tires.

The acronym used to refer to the drag racing governing organization, the International Hot Rod Association.

Want even more drag terms?
Stayed tuned for Part 2 and check out these lists for expanded definitions and additional drag racing terminology:

Glossary of Motorsport Terms
Drag Racing Glossary
Drag Strip Lingo

Posted by Amber Ambrose at 2:18 PM