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The vertical metal roof support between the side edge of the rear windshield (also called the backlight) and the rear edge of the rear window.
The post extending from the roof line of a race car to the base of the rear window to the top of the deck lid.
The Championship Association of Mechanics, established in 1989, is a non-profit organization that serves the needs of Indy Car crew members. It also acts to publicize their efforts.
One of the three major front suspension geometry adjustments. The camber angle is the angle between the plane of the wheel (think of it as the plane of the hub face, or the brake rotor), and the vertical. On an oval track, setting the right front wheel to negative camber (the top of the wheel leaning toward the car) provides improved cornering traction. Camber is usually thought of as a front-end adjustment, but over the last few years, devices have been invented that make it possible to put a small amount of camber in the rear wheels while using an axle-type suspension.
A machined shaft with lobes that open and close engine-cylinder intake and exhaust valves. As the shaft rotates, the lobes push against valve springs to open the valves and rotate away to close them. Driven by the crankshaft.
Capitalized Cost
In a lease transaction, the price at which a financial institution buys a vehicle from a dealer. Equivalent to the cash purchase price if the consumer were buying the vehicle outright, it includes taxes and any other additional charges. Also called Capital Cost.
Capitalized Cost Reduction
In a lease transaction, an up-front payment made at the start of the lease. The lessee can use cash, a rebate or a trade-in. Similar but not equal to a down payment. The lessee must pay sales tax on the cap-cost reduction amount. Also called Capital-Cost Reduction.
Captive Finance Company
A financial institution owned by a manufacturer. Examples include Chrysler Credit, Ford Motor Credit and GMAC.
Short for carburetor.
Carbon Fiber
Material used to produce components in racecars where strength and light weight are important. Carbon fiber is made by heating resin-impregnated rayon fabric in a very hot oven, molding it into shape, and hardening it to provide strength and durability. Has a much higher tensile strength than steel and weighs much less.
Device that mixes air with fuel, delivering the mixture into the engine's combustion chambers. Only found on older vehicles. By the mid-1980s, new emissions standards led to the use of fuel-injection systems, which do not require frequent adjustment.
Sweeping turn of more than 90 degrees, usually of large radius.
The insurance company that provides the insurance.
Acronym for Championship Auto Racing Teams Inc., the sanctioning organization for the PPG CART World Series.
One of the three major front suspension geometry adjustments. It is the angle between the front wheel kingpin (think of it as the "hinge" that the wheel swings on when the steering wheel is turned) and the vertical. If the kingpin is rotated so that the top leans towards the front of the car, that is positive caster. It has been discovered over the last 7-8 years that on a Stock car severe caster angles provide improved cornering traction, but a side effect is that such angles require extreme effort on the part of the driver to turn the steering wheel, which is why many Stock cars now use power steering.
Casualty Insurance
Insurance covering the insured's legal liability for damage to other person's property or injuries to them. Other forms of insurance, such as burglary, robbery and worker's compensation, belong in this category.
Catalytic Converter
An emissions-control device that removes unburned fuel from the exhaust by burning it.
Catastrophe Hazard
The risk of loss by a peril to which a large number of insured are subject. Typical examples are hurricanes and tornadoes.
Catch can
A small can that is used to catch fuel that comes out of the fuel cell vent when it overflows (while being filled). Also: Most fuel cells today have a check valve in the vent line that prevents fuel from backing out of the vent line. This valve also prevents air from escaping the cell, which would make it impossible to fill the cell, so the catch can has a protruding snout that is shoved into the vent line, and forces the check valve open so the car can be fueled. This applies mainly to Stock cars; Indy cars use a vent hose instead.
Catch Fence
The fence along the wall that protects spectators from flying tires and other car parts.
Yellow Flag conditions. No passing allowed and cars must slow down.
Caution (Yellow Flag)
Quick Note: A period in racing in which track conditions are too hazardous for racing due to an accident or debris on the racing surface. The cars remain in their racing positions behind the pace car until it is determined that it is safe to resume the race.
Cubic centimeters, the standard measure of displacement in Europe. A liter, 1000 cubic centimeters, is approximately 61 cubic inches.
Center High-Mounted Stop Light (Chmsl)
NHTSA-required brake light mounted higher than the taillights, at the top center or bottom center of the rear windshield.
Center of Gravity
The point of the car where, if it is suspended, it would balance front and rear.
Center of Pressure
The point on a Indy car underwing which receives the greatest amount of airflow pressure. This measurement is critical to setting front to rear balance, especially on superspeedways.
Center-Locking Differential
On all-wheel drive vehicles, a third differential in addition to those for the front and rear axles. This third differential allows the front and rear wheels to turn at different speeds as needed for cornering on dry pavement. On slippery surfaces, it locks all four wheels together, either automatically or manually depending on the system, for greater traction.
Central Locking System
On a vehicle with power door locks, the system locks or unlocks all doors at one time.
Champ Car or Championship Car
[1] 1) An old term for the front-engined Indy cars, which raced at Indianapolis and other Indy car venues until about 1965 (when the rear-engined designes took over). See also Silver Crown.

[2] The term that CART began using for its cars in 1998 (after it was barred from using "Indycar" as the result of a lawsuit by the IRL).
The basic-strength auto frame including the engine, suspension, wheels, brakes and drive train. A car without its body or coachwork. In monocoque or unit construction it is integral with the body.
Chassis Roll
This describes the up and down movement caused when a car travels around corners at high speeds, the side of the car facing the inside of the turn becomes lighter, causing it to raise up. The extra weight that shifts toward the outside of the turn causes that side of the car to pitch downward.
Check Up
To slow down abruptly, either because of a problem with the car, or because of an incident occurring ahead. When a driver checks up, he/she is supposed to hold up their right hand and wave it, as a signal to following cars, but there isn't always time. Sudden checking up is a frequent cause of "secondary accidents" that occur behind an accident or spin.
Checked Out
What happens when the leader drives off from the rest of the pack, as in, "Jeff Gordon checked out on that last restart."
Checked Up
While racing the driver slows down slightly - something like just lifting his foot from the accelerator.
The black and white checkered flag is the most coveted flag of all. As the cars cross the finish line, under the flying checkered, their positions are permanently recorded. The checkered flag means the race is complete and a winner declared.
Checkered Flag
The black and white checkerboard style flag which signifies the end of a race.
An "S" like track configuration generally designed on a fast portion of a track to slow cars. Also referred to as "esses" or a "switchback."
Chief Steward
Final operating authority at a race.
Chlorofluorocarbons (Cfcs)
Chemicals formerly used as refrigerants in cooling systems. No longer used because they are considered harmful to the Earth's ozone layer.
A temporary restriction in a carburetor throat that reduces the flow of air and enriches the fuel-air mixture to aid in starting the engine.
Chop Job
A strategic bump at high speed, of the sort practiced by many drivers of all racing series.
Christmas Tree
The Tree, as it is often called, is the electronic starting device between the lanes on the starting line. It displays a calibrated-light countdown for each driver. Nitromethane: Produced specifically as a fuel for drag racing, it is the result of a chemical reaction between nitric acid and propane.
Chrome Horn
Bumping into the rear of the car ahead of you, to cause him to get a bit loose (so he'll slow and you can pass him), or just to express dissatisfaction with his driving. The term comes from the early days of Stock car racing, when the race cars were showroom cars of the '40s and '50s with the huge, chromed bumpers that were in style then. The chrome horn is regarded as a dubious technique at best, and downright dirty at worst.
Also Chrome Moly. Short for Chromium Molybdenum steel. A very strong type of steel tubing used to build the frams for many dragsters.
A softer compound rain tire will shed pieces of rubber if a track becomes too dry.
Short for parachute; used to assist high-speed braking. Pre-Staged: When a driver is approximately seven inches behind the starting line and the small yellow lights atop his or her side of the Christmast Tree are glowing.
Cubic inch displacement
Any race track. Also refers to the entire slate of races on a season schedule.
Driving around a track with a damaged and/or slow car to accumulate laps and, more importantly, points and prize money.
Request for payment of a loss as covered under the terms of an insurance contract.
Claim Rule
A rule that allows parts from one competitors' car to be purchased by other competitors at a set price. Usually applied to engines, claim rules supposedly keep the cost of racing down by making it unprofitable to spend a lot of money on illegal or exotic modifications.
The term used to identify a certain section of the contract or policy.
Clean Air
Air without turbulence created in the wake of other race cars. Clean air is found at the very front of the field.
The transparent top coat of paint on many newer vehicles; designed to create a long-lasting, lustrous appearance.
Name for a Ford production-based small-block V-8, which is the basis for the current Ford NASCAR Winston Cup engine. The engine is an amalgam of the best features from the "Cleveland" and "Windsor" engines of the '70s, and the "Clevor" name is a combination of the two names. The engine is now being phased out of production by Ford, and it's unclear how much longer it will continue to race in NASCAR.
Climate-Control System
The non-technical term for the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system (HVAC). Most current vehicles have all three - heating, defrost, and AC.
On a tube-frame Stock car, the front and rear sections are designed so that if they are damaged in an accident, they can easily be cut off (with a cutting torch) from the main part of the chassis, and a new section welded on. These replacable sections are referred to as the "front clip" and "rear clip".
Minor contact between race cars. Also often refers to hitting precisely, or "clipping," the apex of a turn.
Closed Wheel
Referring to cars that have fenders - the tires are not exposed like in F1, CART and IRL. Stock cars, sports cars, trucks and touring cars all have closed wheels.
Closed-End Lease
In a lease contract, specifies the vehicle's residual value at the end of the lease term. The lessee is not responsible for the value of the vehicle at term end, but he may face charges for excess wear-and-tear and excessive mileage. Also called a walk-away lease.
Closed-Wheel Cars
The suspension, wheels and tires are mostly covered by the body. Production-based race vehicles such as NASCAR stock cars are examples of closed-wheel cars as opposed to open-wheel "formula" cars.
Closing Costs
Any expenses added onto the lease that are incidental to the purchase. (For example, title fees and appraisal fees.)
A friction device used to connect the engine to the drive train. Used when changing gear ratios during acceleration. Can connect or disconnect the engine and the drive train at driver's will.
Clutch can
The bell shaped housing, or bellhousing, used to encase the clutch and flywheel. Pro Tree: Used in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Truck, Pro Stock Bike, Federal-Mogul Dragster, Federal-Mogul Funny Car, Super Comp, Super Gas, and Super Street, which feature heads-up competition. All three large amber lights on the Christmas Tree flash simultaneously, followed four-tenths of a second later by the green starting light. A perfect reaction time on a Pro Tree is .400.
Clutch Disk
Presses against the the transmission flywheel to transfer power from the engine to the transmission.
Clutch Dust
Arbon dust created when the surfaces of the clutch discs wear as they slide together during the clutch-lockup process. 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. The reaction-time counter begins when the last amber light flashes on the Tree and stops when the vehicle clears the stage beam.
Clutch Lockup
The progression of clutch-disc engagement controlled by an air timer management system. RPM: Revolutions per minute or rpm, is a measure of engine speed as determined by crankshaft spin.
Charlotte Motor Speedway, home of the World 600 Winston Cup Race, now known as the Coca-Cola 600. This is a NASCAR event, also held on Memorial Day.
The area where the driver sits in a race car.
Coefficient of Drag (Cd)
A measure of the aerodynamic resistance of the vehicle body. The smaller the number, the more wind-cheating the body design and the greater likelihood that passengers won't have to endure wind noises.
Coil Spring
A spring composed of hardened steel spiral wound used to isolate a vehicle from the road. Coil springs are preferred over leaf springs for their superior ride and control.
Cold Pits
There is no racing activity on the track and the pits are open to people other than team members and racing officials.
Assets owned by the borrower which document his or her ability to repay the loan. Listed assets may be seized by the lending institution if the loan is unpaid.
A spinning car will often "collect" up a few other cars and take them out of the race.
Getting hit by an out-of-control car while trying to pass by or through an accident in progress. Very frustrating for a driver, since getting collected or not is often a matter of pure luck.
Collision Coverage
Optional insurance that pays for damage to your car caused by collision with another car or object.
The cooperation between two or more people to secretly defraud another person or company.
Combinations of engine, gearing, suspension, aerodynamic parts, and wheel and tire settings which teams forecast will work under varying conditions and tracks. These combinations (also known as set-ups) are recorded and used as baseline when teams arrive at a track.
Combustion Chamber
Top section of the engine cylinder, where the air-fuel mixture is ignited by a spark plug. The explosion of the combustion pushes the piston down into the cylinder, producing the force that the transmission delivers to the drive wheels.
Common Law Liability
The responsibility of injury or loss imposed upon a person because of his or her actions.
A small car that can seat two to four people.
Competition Yellow
A scheduled caution period caution period during a race. It has the effect of drawing all the cars together, which can prevent the race from becoming a "runaway"; it also de-emphasizes the importance of pit stops by decreasing the number of pit stops that must be made under the green flag.
The rubber blend for tires. In some series, teams can choose their tire compound based on the track and weather conditions. A softer compound tire provides better traction but wears out much faster than a harder compound tire which doesn't provide as much grip.
Compound Interest
Interest computed on the sum of an original principal and accrued interest.
Comprehensive Coverage
Optional insurance that pays for damage to your car caused by things other than collision. For example, if your car is stolen or vandalized.
In internal-combustion reciprocating engines, the squeezing of the fuel-air mixture in the cylinder of a spark-ignition engine or the squeezing of the air in a diesel engine. Compression makes combustion more effective and increases engine efficiency.
Compression Ratio
The total volume of the cylinder compared to the compressed volume when the piston reaches the top of its stroke. The higher the ratio, the more power the engine produces. Winston Cup engines have a compression ratio of 12 to 1 and Busch engines have had a compression ratio of 9-1/2 to 1. Beginning with the 2001 season the Busch cars will also have 12:1 compression ratio engines. With 150 more horsepower, the BGN cars will have significantly more power.
Compulsory Insurance
Any type of insurance that is required by law.
The withholding of facts by an applicant on an insurance application.
Connecting Rod
The arm that connects the piston to the crankshaft and converts the reciprocating motion into rotary motion.
Shorthand term for a connecting rod. Used more among Indy car racing people; not as often heard among Stock car people.
Consolation Race
Sometimes called the "consy", this is a race for teams who fail to qualify for a feature race or main event. (Some people incorrectly use this term to refer to a B-main.) The consolation typically will come with a small amount of prize money for the top few finishers, or the promoter might offer to cover the day's expenses of the consy winner. The purpose of the consolation race is to encourage the teams that failed to qualify to come back and try again at the promoter's next event.
This may refer to the unit found between the front driver and passenger seat that contains the automatic transmission shifter, cupholders and a storage compartment. But it can also refer to the section of the instrument panel that includes the controls for the sound system and climate-control system, particularly if the panel flows down the center of the vehicle and includes the automatic-transmission shifter.
Constant Velocity (Cv)
Joint or Halfshaft A shaft that transmits engine power from the transmission to the wheel. CV joints allow the wheel to steer and follow suspension motion while receiving power. CV joints are used in front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive vehicles.
Constant-Velocity Joint (Cv Joint)
On front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles, a coupling that allows the front axle to turn at a constant speed at various angles when the vehicle turns. The CV joint is a shaft that transmits engine power from the transmission to the wheel.
Constructors' Championship
The equivalent of a Manufacturers' Championship. A championship award for the cars' builders.
Contact Patch
The portion of the tire that makes contact with the racing surface. The size of each tire's contact patch changes as the car is driven.
Contest Board
Midwestern Council's competition directors. Minimum two reps from each club, with the club chief steward having one vote, the other rep(s) having one vote. Same make-up as the MC Board of Directors, except for voting pattern.
Contingency Award
Money or prizes that are awarded to race participants by parties other than the race promoter. The contingency award may be based on performance, on a team's use of a sponsor's product, or any other criteria that the party sponsoring the award feels like imposing.
Contribution by Equal Shares
Provision in insurance contracts which requires each company to share equally in the loss until the share of each equals the lowest limit of liability under any policy or the full amount of loss is paid.
The wrongful use of a property by the person who owns it.
Any car with a removable top, either a rag (cloth) top or hard top.
Liquid used to carry heat away from the engine. Sometimes called antifreeze.
Corner Station
Race staff station at or near corners. Usually raised and/or protected.
Corner Worker
A person who stands near a turn in a road race to help the driver in the event of a crash or malfunction.
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (Cafe)
The government tracks the average fuel economy of all the vehicles produced in a single model-year by each individual manufacturer. CAFE is that rating.
Engine manufacturing company which has cooperatively developed racing motors with Ford for many years. Named after co-founders Mike Costain and Keith Duckworth.
Generally, a two-door car with close-coupled passenger compartment.
Coupe De Ville
A coupe with an enclosed, rear passenger section and an open driver's section.
A removable metal scoop at the base of the windshield and rear of the hood that directs air into the air box.
California Racing Association, an organization that sanctioned a winged-Sprint car series on the West Coast.
Craftsman Truck
NASCAR started this series in 1994 for full-size, full-bodied pickup trucks on Winston Cup frames. Also considered a 'minor league' version of Busch and Winston Cup Series.
Craftsman Truck Series
These NASCAR Trucks are similar to a Winston Cup race car, under the skin. The body must be stock and its shape is monitored by NASCAR officials. This new series of races has been called one of the most exciting in motorsports.
A pan or box that encloses the bottom of the engine, supports the crankshaft, and contains the oil for the engine.
The rotating shaft within the engine that delivers the power from the pistons to the flywheel, and from there to the transmission.
Crankshaft or Crank
The main shaft of an engine with a U-shaped offset at each cylinder to which the connecting rod is attached. It delivers rotary motion taken from the reciprocating pistons and connecting rods.
Crash Gordon
Former Indy car driver turned NASCAR Winston Cup Driver Robby Gordon, not related to Jeff "Flash" Gordon.
Credit Worthy
A consumer who will qualify for a vehicle loan. Same as a qualified buyer.
Crew Chief
Team leader. Depending on the team, duties include everything from making assignments in the shop, to calling the shots in the pits, to handling airline and motel reservations.
The difference in weight between the left front corner of the car and its right rear corner.
Stripping of the wheel stud threads when crew members hurriedly refasten lug nuts. This can be more devastating in Indy car racing as each wheel has only one center nut/thread combination which, if damaged, necessitates a Pit Pass before more severe consequences take place.
Cruise Control
A device that, when set by the driver, will hold the car at the chosen speed.
Crumple Zone
Portions of a vehicle's structure designed to buckle and fold in an impact, absorbing crash force rather than transmitting it to vehicle occupants.
Crush Panel
On a tube-frame Stock car, a sheet-metal panel that fills in the gaps between the firewall and the side body panels. If the crush panel gets damaged, engine heat (and frequently exhaust gas) comes into the cockpit, which can make the driver extremely ill.
Chicagoland Sports Car Club
Cubic inches of displacement, as in, "That car has 350 cubes."
Cubic Capacity
The volume of the cylinder between the piston top dead center and bottom dead center. Expressed in cubic centimeters or cubic inches.
Cubic Centimeter (Cc)
European, metric, and competition measure of engine displacement: 1,000 cc=1 liter, which equals about 61 cubic inches.
Cubic Inch (Cu. in.)
U.S. measure of engine displacement: 1 cubic inch=16.387 cc.
Cubic-Inch Displacement
The size of the engine measured in cubic inches. The maximum size for a NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Divisions engine is 358.000 cubic inches.
Curb Weight
The weight of the vehicle without passengers, driver or cargo, but with all standard features, a full tank of fuel, and all the fluids necessary for proper function.
When cars run on a dirt track, loose dirt is thrown up as the cars run through the corners. At some area of the corner, above the farthest outside groove that any car is running, this loose dirt builds up a sort of berm or curb separating the groove from what would be considered the gray area if it were a paved track. This is known as the cushion. Drivers do not want to go "over the cushion" because there is loose dirt on the other side which will bog the car down, and because the act of going over the cushion will cause the car to lose control and may even make a Midget or Sprint car flip.
Custom Car
An automobile that has been restyled, or an all-new body fitted on an existing chassis.
The hollow tubular cavity in the cylinder block in which the piston travels and in which combustion takes place.
Cylinder Block
The main part of the engine to which other parts are attached.
Cylinder Head
At the top of the engine block is the cylinder head which contains intake and exhaust valves. Air and fuel enter the cylinder head through the intake valves and spent leftovers are released after combustion through the exhaust valves.
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