Drag Racing List of Terms:


STAGING LANES - A rather permanent parking area that was designed as a temporary waiting area prior to racing.  If it is warm out - then temperatures in the staging lanes will be twenty degrees hotter than anywhere else.  Another good rule to follow is that your line will not move until you make a dash for the porta-potti.  Also if you change to a shorter lane, the person in front of you will become hopelessly trapped in the porta-potti.


CHRISTMAS TREE -  Each side of the tree consists of two yellow light bulbs at the top, three amber spot lights, one green spot light, and one very bright red spot light at the bottom.  Okay, so there's a little blue light at the very top also.


STAGING LIGHTS - Or Pre-Stage Indicator Lights.  The top two bulbs on your side of the tree.  Used to position the race car at the starting line.  It's necessary to break both beams to properly stage.  Top bulb lights as your front tire blocks the closest beam; and then as you continue to pull forward the second beam is blocked and the bottom bulb on the tree lights.  New racers are made aware of this by the nice man at the starting line pounding on their roof and waiving frantically for you to stage properly.


DEEP STAGING - Happens by accident when you coast clear through the first beam and the top bulb goes out.  Some racers actually do this on purpose to lower their reaction time.  If you don't write "DEEP" on your window, the starter will sequence the lights after you light both staging bulbs and while you're farting around trying to pull forward through the first beam, and your competition will leave you in the dust.  You also cannot deep stage when the blue light in the center top of the tree is lit.  This light indicates that the Super Start System is activated, and you will automatically red light should you roll forward and put out the top staging light.


PRO LIGHT - Or Pro Start System.  Where all ambers come on at once with the green following by .4 seconds.


HANDICAP LIGHT - Or Handicap Start System.  The tree will sequence the 3 ambers and green .5 seconds apart. 


DIAL IN - You get all morning to practice and find out what your elapsed time (E.T.) will be.  Just after you run 3 identical E.T.'s and first round eliminations are coming up, the temperature changes, the wind changes, the barometric pressure changes and you really don't have the foggiest idea of what your car will turn in the first round.  So you guess like the rest of us by either averaging all the runs, or better yet - pick a number out of the air that just sounds good.  There's a superstition that odd ending numbers are better, like 14.69 instead of 14.70.  I'm not superstitious, but I can't really remember the last time I put an even number on my window.


REACTION TIME - Time lag from the green light until you clear the last staging beam.  If you wait for the green light to come on before leaving, people will think you're waiting for the tree to grow greener.  Hot ticket is to leave on the lighting of the last amber.  Perfect time would be a .500.  Red light would be a .499 or sooner.


RED LIGHT - What happens when you leave on the second amber or before.  You lose big time with no chance of reprieve.  If you don't red light every now and then - you're probably not trying hard enough to lower your reaction time.


BREAK OUT - Happens when you run a 14.69 after angering the drag gods by dialing in a even 14.70.  Remember, it's only your fault if you run faster than what you chose.  But the good news is that maybe you can still win if the guy in the next lane breaks out more than you did.  Also you can break out on a run where the other fellow red lights and be the winner.


WHO WINS? - Okay, nobody red lights and no one breaks out, so who's the winner?  Ad your reaction time to your elapsed time and subtract your dial-in and hope it's less than the guy's combined time next to you.  Of course the tract computer does this in a split second and the brutal results are waiting for you at the time slip pickup point.  It helps to be a math whiz because some races are decided by only a few thousandths of a second.  {e.g. I dial in a 12.05, and run a 12.48, and have a reaction time of .585; your competition dials in a 18.50, runs an 18.55, but falls asleep at the line with a reaction time of .945.  My computed time difference is (12.05-12.38)+(.685-.500)=.515 second, while the competitorís time difference would be (18.55-18.50)+(.945-.500)=.495 second.  My .515 would loose to the competitor's .495 by .020 of a second. 


TIME SLIP - That terrible slip of reality that shows your 12 second car is somehow running in the mid 16's at the tract.  Only logical explanation is that the tower made a mistake.


LIMITED SLIP DIFFERENTIAL - "Transfers the torque to the wheel..."  Oh Bull!  The damn thing locks both axles together so they turn the same speed.  The engineers and ad men would have you believe that there was a little computer inside freewheeling one wheel and putting all the rotation to the other -- ain't going to happen, no sir, no way!  There are about a half dozen different designs out there to lock the wheels together, either through flat clutches, cone clutches, ratchets, or gears; but they all do nothing more than lock the two sides together.  Some are more efficient at locking than others; unfortunately the more efficient ones are much more of a pain on the street.  Stock units were probably good for allowing only about 30% slippage, aftermarket clutch units might cut slippage to 15% or less by using heavier springs and more clutches.  The better the slippage control, the more tire chirping around corners.  The "spool" is the ultimate locking unit, since it is one piece of metal that both axles slip into allowing 100% locking.


12 BOLT - Maybe this one's too easy.  Count the number of little bolts holding on the rear axle differential cover.  It's a good stout rear end that will take a little more abuse than the 10 bolts that came on all of our early (pre 1970) GTO's.  The best feature is the hordes of aftermarket parts available that makes this unit totally indestructible.  Plus, there are 12 bolt units ready to bolt on with no modifications or welding what-so-ever available at reasonable prices every day in the penny-saver magazines or newspapers.


10 BOLT - Same thing Sherlock, count the bolts.  Early 10 bolts were fairly strong units until you put on sticky tires and got stupid.  Trick is to locate the four pinion units (4 spider gears) that only came with 4-speed cars.  Most of the bad reputation came with adding horsepower or putting a stick in an original automatic car that only came with two little spider gears.  Good 10 bolt posi rear ends are getting very scarce and I would recommend preserving them for restorations.  These units  arrived at the locking effect by using steel cone clutches instead of fiber/steel clutch packs and the supply of new replacement parts is gone.


FORD NINE INCH - I can't believe the dummies that forget that Ford never produced anything of great value.  They run out and purchase a rear end that could be melted down for additional bear cans for our favorite beverage.  Ok, so it is relatively strong unit (nine inch refers to the diameter of the ring gear - a 12 bolt is about 8.8 inches and the old 10 bolts were about 8.75 inches).  Currie Manufacturing carries extremely strong hop-up parts, does a good job in welding on all the necessary GM brackets, and does an exceptional job in their advertising convincing GM folk that they need a Ford part.  The units go for the price of gold and there is a drawback not mentioned in the ads: The Nine inch unit has an extremely low pinion angle (read the drive shaft rear yolk sits at the very bottom of the pumpkin).  This causes a much more radical drive shaft angle since the rear of the drive shaft is almost 3 inches below that of the GM units.  Hey, the rear end might be bullet proof, but what good is it if the drive shaft keeps turning into a pretzel?  Also, the tendency of the Ford unit to act like a worm drive eats up some horsepower compared to the more efficient GM angle. 


TORQUE CONVERTER - If anyone really understands and can follow the power flow and torque multiplication through a torque converter, they should probably be committed to a mental institution.  Suffice to say that you only need to understand that a well designed converter will rip your head off your shoulders when the light turns green.  A "tight" converter (read stock/economy) slips only to about 1400 RPM in our stock GTO's.  A "loose" converter for the street will be upwards of 2400 RPM, and for the track can slip up to 6000 RPM or more depending on the application.  The Catch 22 for the street is that if your cruise RPM is below the lock-up RPM of the converter, it will continuously slip creating heat and havoc.  A loose converter can feel as if the trans is going out - it's really not a pleasurable sensation at all, and basically tough to live with (right up to racing that Chevy and grabbing a two car length hole shot when you put your foot in it!).  Converters come in sizes from 12" down to 8" diameter.  Car manufacturers put in large converters for large motors and small ones for puny motors.  Then a gear-head discovered that using a small converter behind a large motor worked wonderful.  Yes, you can loosen up a large converter for more stall, but you have a lot of mass, always a lot of slippage, and basically a poor performing unit that turns torque into heat instead of power.  A correctly designed small converter will allow torque transmittal at small throttle settings for better drive-ability, but flash to a high stall speed when more power is applied.  Ballpark figures are: 12" converters go to 1400 RPM, 11" to 2200 RPM, 10" to 3600 RPM, 9" to 4500 RPM, and 8" for over 4500 RPM.  Many things can be done to converters to alter stall and torque output, and the final stall RPM is very definitely dependent on the power of your motor.  You buy a used converter that stalled at 2400 RPM behind a built 455 and put it behind your stock 400, you might find you now have a 1800 RPM stall converter.  The Art Carr 8" converter I have in the Blue Goat will flash to 5400 RPM, but will start moving the car at about 2,200 RPM.  The loose 10" converter by TCS I did have in the car would only flash to 3,400 RPM, but wouldn't start to move the car until I reached about 3,000 RPM.  Trick part here for the street is to install the dual pitch converter (with the matching Turbo 400 trans).  At the flick of a switch (hooked up to your throttle like a kick-down switch) you go from a pleasant 1800 RPM economic cruising setting to a tire screeching 3600 RPM launch setting.