Drag racing lingo

Breakout: Used only in handicap racing, "breakout" refers to a race car running quicker than the driver has predicted. The driver's prediction is called the dial-in and is posted on the race car. The driver who breaks out loses the race unless his or her opponent has committed a more serious foul, such as a red-light or crossing the centerline of the dragstrip.

Burnout: Spinning the rear tires in water to heat and clean them before a run for better traction. In most classes, a burnout precedes every run down the dragstrip.

Christmas Tree: The noticeable electronic starting device between the lanes on the starting line. It displays a calibrated-light countdown for each driver.

Elapsed Time (e.t.) : The time it takes a drag-race vehicle to travel from the starting line to the finish line.

Funny Car: With aerodynamically enhanced carbon-fiber bodies that loosely resemble the production cars on which they are based, these supercharged, fuel-injected, nitromethane-burning machines travel the quarter-mile in 4.6 seconds at more than 330 mph, slightly slower than a Top Fuel dragster. Most teams use an aluminum version of the 426 Chrysler Hemi engine that produces an estimated 7,000 horsepower.

Jr. Dragster: A half-scale version of a Top Fuel dragster designed to be driven by kids ages 8-17 in the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League. Using a five-horsepower, single-cylinder engine, a Jr. Dragster can go as fast as 80 mph in as few as 7.90 seconds on the eighth-mile.

Methanol: Pure methyl alcohol used as fuel in Top Alcohol Dragsters, Top Alcohol Funny Cars, and even some Jr. Dragsters.

Nitromethane ("nitro"): Made specifically as a fuel for drag racing, it is the result of a chemical reaction between nitric acid and propane. Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars use nitromethane.

Nitrous Oxide ("nitrous," "N2O"): When injected into an engine under pressure, nitrous oxide gives the engine a sudden boost in power by introducing more oxygen into the fuel mixture. Nitrous oxide is not allowed in any NHRA category except Pro Mod (exhibition) and some Sport Compact and E.T. bracket classes.

Pro Stock: Pro Stock cars look a lot like street cars, but looks can be deceiving. Extensive modifications to the cylinder heads, manifold, chassis, and suspension thrust them to 6.6-second elapsed times at more than 205 mph. The most popular engine choices for these carbureted, gas-burning vehicles are the GM big-block wedge, the Mopar Hemi, and the Ford wedge.

Pro Stock Motorcycles:
Producing more than 300 horsepower, these highly modified motorcycles can cover the quarter-mile in less than 7.0 seconds at more than 195 mph. The chromoly steel chassis is cloaked in a lightweight, aerodynamically enhanced replica of the original motorcycle body, and the carbureted gasoline engine may be a Harley V-twin, a two-valve, or a four-valve.

Reaction Time:
The time it takes a driver to react to the green starting light on the Christmas Tree, measured in thousandths of a second. A perfect reaction time is .000.

Red Light: When a race car leaves the starting line too soon — before the green light, or "go" signal — it activates the red light on the Christmas Tree and the driver has automatically lost the race.

Top Fuel Dragsters: The fastest-accelerating vehicles in the world, these are the most recognizable of all drag race cars. The 25-foot-long landlocked missiles can cover the quarter-mile in 4.4 seconds at speeds faster than 335 mph. The engine of choice is an aluminum version of the famous Chrysler Hemi.               The supercharged, fuel-injected nitromethane-burning engines produce an estimated 7,000 horsepower.

Copyright 2003, NHRA