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. This is Part 2 of a two part series and covers terms starting with the letters N-Z. Check out Part 1, letters A-M.
National Hot Rod Association, drag racing sanctioning body (US only).
Nitromethane or nitro (source)
Drag racing fuel created from the reaction between nitric acid and propane.
When a car's engine or lubrication breaks during a run, leaving a streak of oil and other fluids on the track. This is punishable by fines, point penalties, and/or suspension.
Working the throttle to avoid losing traction, or to purposely add time. Bracket racers may throttle slightly at the big end to stay just ahead of the competition, but not break out of their dial-in.
Put on the trailer (source)
During drag racing eliminations the losing car is eliminated and not allowed to return to competition. Consequently, the race car is loaded on its trailer and towed home.
Aligning the front tires approximately .5 feet behind the starting line, so that the sensor is triggered and the yellow pre-stage lights at the top of the driver’s respective side of the christmas tree lights up.
Race Face (source)
Trying to shut out distractions in the pits, or an attempt to better concentrate on getting a good reaction time, shifting on time, driving smoothly, etc. Race face also refers to psyching out your opponent by giving the impression that you’re calm when most others would be nervous.
Reaction time, or how long it takes for a driver to react and leave the staging beam after the green light on the Christmas tree. Often the difference between a win and loss, a perfect reaction time is 0.500 second.
When a driver jumps the start and leaves the staging beam before the tree turns green. This results in a loss unless a more serious foul occurs (for example if the opponent crossed the center boundary line).
Smoking the tires (source)
When a loss of traction occurs, causing the rear tires to rise, and smoke profusely. This usually happens off the starting line. When this happens during a race, it usually results in a loss, unless the opponent also loses traction as well.
When a driver aligns the front tires at the starting line so that the yellow lights below pre-stage lights are lit. Once both cars are staged, the tree countdown begins.
Time Slip (source)
Slip of paper turned in by the race timer which denotes elapsed time for both drivers, and who won the race; it may also include reaction time and "60 foot" time. This is an official document, used for timekeeping.
Tire shake (source)
When the engine is putting out more horsepower than the drive axle can handle, causing the rear tires to shake violently. This results in a loss of speed, and can also result in loss of steering, and occasionally, lead to on track accidents.
The Wally (source)
In the NHRA, The Wally is the nickname of the trophy that is earned by the winner of an event, the nickname refers to the founder of the NHRA, Wally Parks.
When a race car does a wheelstand, it lifts the front tires off the ground for a few seconds-or a few hundred feet.
A special design of low-pressure drag racing rear tires that have unique sidewall construction to allow the tire’s sidewall to compress to the point of wrinkling (upon hard acceleration).
Zero Light (source)
Also known as "cutting a zero," and a "zero R.T." When someone leaves the starting line at the exact moment when the light turns green (.000). Very difficult to achieve, due to the quick flashing of the lights on a Pro tree.
Want even more drag terms? Check out these lists for expanded definitions and additional drag racing terminology:
Glossary of Motorsport Terms
Drag Racing Glossary
Drag Strip Lingo