February 17

Sim-Racing Brake Pedal Mods

I get questions all the time about brake pedal mods to Logitech and Thrustmaster pedals. There is lots of information and mis-information about the subject here on the internet. This article is not about determining which one is better, but more about giving you information to determine which one is best for you.

There are two main types. The more economical option is the harder spring or bushing option. These have existed for a long time and there are many variations of it. There is the GTeye style progressive spring, the Nixim style rubber insert and the shock absorber style dampener. All of these fall into the same main category type because all of these remain being distance based pedals. The pedals that host these mods are originally created to use a potentiometer for a sensor. For those that are unfamiliar with this device, it is similar to the guts of a volume knob. The pedal is attached to this and as the pedal is pressed downward the potentiometer turns. Rather than turning up the volume, it signals the game to apply more brakes.

This is perfectly adequate if it weren’t for the pedal being so darn soft. This becomes an issue when you are approaching a turn and you know that you need to apply 18mm of input on the brake pedal to slow the car to the right speed. Well, trying to measure 18mm with your foot without looking and doing it quickly proves to be a very difficult task.

A simple way to solve this is to make the pedal harder. This increases the amount of muscle needed to move the pedal. Many erroneously call this using “muscle memory.” While the term is wrong, the concept is valid. The principle is that you are better able to control muscle strength easier than muscle movement, so making the pedal harder places more of the pedal input on strength and less on movement.

So now that we have the basic principle out of the way, let’s look at how these modifications translate muscle input to brake input. The progressive spring is a type of spring that become progressively harder the more it is squeezed. While a linear spring on the other hand becomes steadily stiffer as it is compressed. Here is an example. A linear spring compresses 10mm for 1kg of load then it will compress 20mm under 2kg of load and 30mm under 3kg of load. The compression distance is linear. A progressive spring may compress the same 10mm under 1 kg of load but only 15mm under 2 kg of load and perhaps only 17mm under 3 kg of load. As you can see the compression distance is reduced as the load increases. When this type of spring is put into a pedal it makes the pedal feel more realistic since brake pedals in real cars get harder and move less as they are pushed down further. However, the sim- pedal retains its distance based pedal. As you can see, the pedal needs to move to register braking input but a progressive spring makes the pedal harder and harder to move.

In the end, the harder pedal does give more control over the braking input, but the progressive lack of movement hinders its full potential.

Rubber bushings such as the Nixim mod and the Conical brake mod that ships with Thrustmaster pedals have a similar effect as the progressive spring. In these applications, a linear spring remains, but a small stiffer rubber stopper makes the pedal harder as some point mid travel. The result is similar to a progressive spring since the pedal is soft then gets harder. Once again, the pedal needs to move to register braking input but a rubber insert makes the pedal harder and harder to move.

The dampener is typically taken from RC model cars. It is usually in the form of a coil-over shock absorber. When a mod like this is added to the brake pedal the springs make the pedal feel firmer and are usually linear and not progressive so it improves the experience. However, when it comes to the dampener aspect of the mod, the performance starts to be affected greatly. The dampener is intended to slow down the movement of the device it is attached to, so why would you want to slow down the movement of a distance based sensor. After all, if it takes longer to get the pedal to the required braking amount, would that make your lap times take longer?

There is another mod circling around intended for Logitech G25/27/29 pedals that involves installing an O-ring on the spring housing in order so slow down its movement. Again, slowing down the movement of the pedal means slowing down your lap times.

The second type of brake pedal modification is the load sensor. A load sensor comes in many varieties but the ones that are typically use for sim pedals measure weight applied to them directly or they measure fluid pressure applied to them indirectly. The load cell is commonly used in scales, from inexpensive food scales for home use to high-precision medical grade scales. It all comes down to precision.

There are several variations of the load cell brake mod, but they all work on a similar principle, they measure the force applied to the pedal rather than the distance the pedal moves. The kits use some form of resistance media such as springs, rubber, foam and even air cylinders to give the pedal the correct feel and then use a load cell to get the correct reading. The benefits are huge as now the pedal will not only feel like a real brake pedal but it can also react like a real brake pedal since a real brake pedal reacts to the force applied to it rather than the amount of distance it moves. This employs the use of “muscle memory” by using muscle strength rather than muscle movement. Additionally, many load cell upgrade kits will increase the amount of force required to brake, which employs the use of even more “muscle memory” Which increases braking accuracy even further.

Another lesser benefit of using a load cell is that braking input remains the same regardless of pedal “softening” over time. As with most things, the springs and bushings in a load cell kit may wear over time and become softer, but since the pedal reads force applied rather than movement, your braking accuracy will remain the same.

I certainly hope this article sheds some light on some of the myths that exist in the sim-racing community about brake pedal modification. My intention is to provide some insight about the science behind the mod. Don’t get me wrong, all the mods I talk about here will be an improvement and I am not claiming they will hurt your lap times. I am simply showing why these mods provide different levels of gain.

February 17

Selecting a Monitor for Sim-Racing

It seems every week someone is asking me for advice or recommendations on monitors, specifically for sim-racing monitors. There are some common sense aspects and some other obscure aspects of the selection process. I’ll try to cover them all here. Spoiler alert: I will not be giving specific recommendations on brands and models. Models and specifications change on a yearly basis so it would not be wise to make a recommendation in this article.

Refresh Rate

As we all know from motion pictures, video is actually just a series of slightly different still images flashed in front of our eyes very quickly to give us the illusion that the picture is moving. Each picture is called a frame and the number of frames the monitor can show us each second is the refresh rate and is measured in Hertz (Hz). Therefore, a refresh rate of 60Hz will be able to display up to 60 frames per second. I say “up to” because the graphics processor and other factors can cause the PC to generate less frames than that. It is generally accepted that 60Hz is the minimum acceptable for us to perceive smooth video and for the fast moving objects in sim-racing I tend to agree. There are monitors capable of displaying more frames per second so you will see those advertised as 120Hz or 144Hz and more. Keep in mind that simply because you have a monitor that can display 120 frames per second doesn’t mean your PC can keep up. Look for a monitor that runs at 60Hz minimum, which most do these days, or 120Hz+ if your PC can handle it.

Resolution

A monitor screen is actually made up of thousands of individual dots, known as pixels. Each pixel is capable of changing its color and brightness. Ideally, these dots are so small and so close together that you can’t even tell the dots are there. When the dots are spaced too far apart you see gaps between the dots when you get up close, this is often called the screen door effect. When the dots are too large you see a blurry image. For the reasons, you must have more pixels spaced closer together as you are seated closer to the screen. The number of pixels on a screen is the resolution. Resolution is commonly documented as the number of columns of pixels multiplied by the number of rows of pixels, such as 1920×1080. Having more pixels creates a smoother looking image, but your PC has to work harder figure out what color and how bright each one needs to be. 1920×1080 is ideal for 24 inch monitors at a 24 inch distance.

I feel the need to talk about the recent introduction of 4K resolution and ultra-widescreen monitors. Ultra-widescreen monitors (21:9) are great for sim-racing, but it takes a 34 inch monitor to approximate the height of a 24 inch standard widescreen (16:9) monitor. These monitors will increase your peripheral visibility on the track and certainly having triple ultra-widescreen monitors is amazing. 4K monitor resolutions on the other hand are not a significant improvement for sim-racing. The increased pixel count and resulting higher density do provide a sharper image, but the added cost of the monitors and the cost of available graphics processors to drive them, particularly for triple screens, is not yet cost effective. In fact, at the time of this writing, a PC built with four of nVidia’s flagship Titan X graphics cards were not able to run triple 4K monitors satisfactorily.

Response Time

Each pixel of the display may have to change color and brightness with just about every new frame. The pixels take a little bit of time to make the transitions. A 60Hz refresh rate will display a new frame every 16 milliseconds. If the pixels were to take that long to transition to the new color and brightness they need to be, then the picture we see becomes a blur because by the time they are done changing color and brightness, it’s time to begin changing again. For our eyes to see a clear image, the pixels must transition quickly.

The most important aspect when selecting a monitor for sim racing is the response time. Ideally, faster is better, but here are some guidelines. Response time is measured in milliseconds (ms) which is 1/1000 of a second, and it is a measure of how long it takes for a pixel to go from full on to full off. Since the video we see is actually a sequence of pictures flashed at you very quickly, it is very important to make sure the pixels in the images are able to change fast enough. When they don’t change fast enough, objects tend to look blurry when they move. The generally accepted threshold is 5ms response time or faster. Even though the picture sequence only changes every 8 to 16 milliseconds you want the pixels to change much faster so that the fully rendered picture in on long enough for your eye to see it.

There is some marketing hype with this number since it is so important. Some monitors will advertise a more aggressive response time by specifying the grey-to-grey (GTG) response rather than the black-to-white (BTW) response time. GTG is a real-world measurement of what will most likely occur rather than the BTW. It is very seldom that a pixel needs to change from full black to full white, so the GTG is an acceptable measurement. However, if a monitor only advertises a GTG response time, look for 2ms or less.

Size

Monitor size is the question that comes up most frequently. How big is big enough? Well, that depends on how far from your eyes you will be mounting the monitor and how far you want the monitors to wrap around you. Keep in mind that monitors are measured diagonally. As a general rule of thumb when referring to HD 16:9 monitors, the distance to your eyes should be equal to or just under the diagonal measurement of the screen. For instance, if you are considering using 24 inch monitors, it should be placed at about 18 to 24 inches from your eyes. This distance should present a smooth 1920×1080 image without being able to distinguish the individual pixels. The pixels and the gaps between them begin to become noticeable as you get closer than this distance. The sweet spot for price right now is 24 inch monitors, but if you have the budget I recommend 27 inch.

Physical Characteristics

There are some physical characteristics that are important for a sim-racing monitor, particularly for a triple screen arrangement. If you will be starting out with a single monitor and later upgrading to triples, don’t wait too long to get the additional monitors because most models are not on the market for more than a year or so. If you plan to start with a single monitor, consider getting something that can later be relegated to be used on an office computer later so you can get 3 monitors all at once.

When setting up a triple screen arrangement you should be prepared to get three identical model monitors. The reason is simple, as you have seen there are various specifications involved and having all three the same will make for a better experience. Different refresh rate, pixel densities, even LCD panel technologies which are not even discussed in this article make the monitors visibly different which takes away from the experience.

The surface of the screen itself should be an anti-glare type. Many monitors now come with a glossy screen because consumers are attracted to shiny objects. Glossy screens create glare, matte screens do not. Don’t fall for the marketing trick.

The width of the monitor side bezels are an important consideration when it comes to a triple screen setup. Obviously keeping that width as narrow as possible prevents breaks in the image. Truth be told though, after a few minutes of driving, your brain stitches the image together and you can’t even notice the bezels are there. The same happens with the windshield pillars while driving a real car. I do not recommend tucking the side monitors behind the center monitor in an attempt to “hide” their bezels. Placing the monitors at different distances creates a negative effect on the experience and reduces the overall width of the display which is less desirable.

Some monitors have essential controls on the side of the monitor. This is undesirable in a triple screen arrangement since it makes it impossible to reach the controls and may even prevent the monitors from butting up to each other properly.

Look for monitors with a removable stand and a VESA mount on the back side. Most sim-chassis will rely on the monitor having a VESA compatible mounting point to secure the monitors to the chassis. Some monitors don’t have them or require adapters to be purchased separately.

Look for monitors with rear connector orientations that allow the cables to lay flat rather than protrude straight out. This will make the cable management much easier and insures the cable will not get in the way of the mounting brackets.

Oculus Rift

I am looking forward to the final release of the Oculus Rift, but the ultimate sim-racing display will still be an array of displays without the need for googles.

Conclusion

I hope this article has provided sufficient information to help in the selection of monitors for your sim-racing setup. I welcome comments feedback and questions from anyone wanting to set up an immersive sim-racing experience.

January 15

Calibrating the Thrustmaster TH8A and TH8RS Shifter for the Ricmotech TMSS Short Shift Adapter

IMG_5479

The Thrustmaster shifter is typically calibrated at the factory with a setting that works well with our short-shift modification plate, but in some instances it does not. If you find that you have to push the lever to get it to engage in a gear, or that some gears don’t engage at all, then this calibration procedure will take care of the problem.

You will need to plug the shifter into the PC and then download and install the following software: TH8 RS Calibration v1.0.7.0 This software can also be downloaded from the Thrustmaster support website located here: http://ts.thrustmaster.com/eng/index.php?pg=view_files&gid=1&fid=2&pid=378&cid=5

This advanced calibration software enables you to adjust electronic gear stroke settings, and recalibrate the shifter as required. After following these instructions, click Close to exit the software, then disconnect the shifter from the USB port before reconnecting it. All your settings will then automatically be saved to your shifter’s internal memory, and will function on the PC, PlayStation and Xbox.

Important note:
To avoid any conflicts, the TH8 RS Control Panel MUST be closed before the calibration software is started.

Plug the shifter into a USB port on the PC then start the calibration application by double-clicking the TH8 RS Calibration icon.

The following screen appears:

Calib1

Move the stick in all 8 directions (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-R), several times if required, until the white line fits within each of the 8 green rectangles.
The upper 4 green rectangles represent the signals received from speeds 1-3-5-7
The lower 4 green rectangles represent the signals received from speeds 2-4-6-R

Replace the stick at the center and wait for the CALIBRATE OK tab to turn green. You have completed the calibration process.

Calib2

Test the calibration by moving the lever twice into each gear position. First place into 1st gear, the gear will turn yellow, go back to neutral and into 1st gear again. Repeat with 2nd gear then 3rd and so on, ending with Reverse gear. Each gear will first turn yellow then green.

Calib3

When all gears have tested well the Test H8 – OK tab turns green.

Calib4

You can proceed to fine-tune the shifter or you can skip this step by closing the application and removing the shifter, the setting will be saved to the shifter.

To fine-tune the shift points use your mouse to move the green lines drawing the green rectangles at your convenience. This setting will enable you to determine at which point the signal for each speed is triggered.

 

Calib5

As an example, the two green horizontal lines have been moved closer to the neutral slot. This will cause the gears to engage sooner.

Calib6

During this phase, make sure that you do not exceed the limits; the white lines must always fall within the green rectangles. You can check this by shifting into gear; the rectangle must always be highlighted in green when you shift into the relevant gear.

When you are satisfied with your adjustments, click Apply: the Fine-Tune Saved tab then turns green.

Calib7

For more fine-tuning that can be performed on your shifter please refer to the Thrustmaster support page located here: http://ts.thrustmaster.com/eng/index.php?pg=view_files&gid=1&fid=2&pid=378&cid=5

August 17

Partnership with Anatoly Pogorelov

Anatoly Pogorelov

Ricmotech is excited to partner with Formula 3 star Anatoly Pogorelov, the professional driver who is taking his circuit by storm and exemplifies the commitment, passion, and excitement behind the wheel that our products are built to inspire. Based in Los Angeles, Anatoly has established himself as a serious contender in Formula 3 racing and has assembled a highly respected support team including expert coach Nico Rondet and two-time Olympian Nabie Fofanah. When Anatoly’s time on the track is done for the day, he confidently supplements his training with our top-tier simulator technology. Simulation racing opens a whole new world of increased training so drivers like Anatoly can push themselves far beyond the limitations of the track and prioritize perfecting their technique. As one of the most exciting new names to the sport, Anatoly Pogorelov pairs excellently with the work Ricmotech is proud to accomplish on behalf of the racing community every single day.

July 31

How to Calibrate your Pedals when Using a Load Cell

In most racing titles, the analog axis must be calibrated. On some titles and platforms the settings are remembered, and for others it must be done every time the sim is started. In the same way the wheel turns to full left and then full right so the game and the wheel knows the full extremes, you manually have to do this on the pedals. With potentiometer based pedals this happens within the first few seconds of racing so most people don’t give it much thought, but a load cell brake requires heavy force to reach its maximum so doesn’t get done “accidentally.” If it doesn’t get pushed to its maximum, then 100% braking is considered to be whatever the highest amount of force the axis has seen since it was started. Next time you get into the sim try pressing the gas just a little and you will see it goes to 100% also.  You don’t need to go to the calibration screen to do, you just need to press all 3 pedals all the way. You might want to use the calibration screen the first few times until you get the “feel” for what 100% brake is.

To find 100% on the load cell brake, first open the calibration screen and squeeze down on the pedal and then back off just a tiny bit. If the indicator on screen comes down when you back of the pedal then you have to squeeze harder. Repeat until backing off just a little does not lower the indicator. Continue to back off the pedal and 100% braking will be when the indicator just starts to go down. Essentially, if the pedal is capable of 70 lbs maximum then you want to press down with 75 lbs, and then back off to 70 lbs. The indicator should read 100% at 75 lbs and also 100% at 70 lbs.

Don’t be concerned about pressing 70 lbs at every turn since you usually don’t need to apply 100% braking at every turn.

May 2

Glossary of Racing Terms

If you’re gonna sim-race, then you better know the lingo.
Here are definitions of both legitimate words, slang words and phrases commonly used in sim-racing. Don’t wonder about the meaning of these words ever again.

A

AERO
Commonly used abbreviation when referring to the all-important science of aerodynamics.
AERO PUSH
When following another vehicle closely, the airflow off the lead vehicle does not travel across the following one(s) in a normal manner. Therefore, down-force on the front of the trailing vehicle(s) is decreased and it does not turn in the corners as well, resulting in an “aero push.” This condition is more apparent on the exit of the turns.
AERODYNAMICS
The science of understanding different forces acting on a moving element in gasses such as air. The application of this study to racing is credited with much of the sport’s recent progress as teams learn more about drag, air turbulence, and down-force.
ADDING SPOILER
This is a term used to describe the changing of the direction of a spoiler or wing on a race car. Usually adjusting the angle of the spoiler creates down-force and gives more grip on the race track.
AIR DAM
A metal strip that hangs beneath the front grill of a stock car, often just inches from the ground. The air dam helps provide aerodynamic down-force at the front of the car.
AIR PRESSURE
With the advent of radial tires with stiffer sidewalls, changing air pressure in the tires is used as another setup tool that is akin to adjusting spring rates in the vehicle’s suspension. An increase in air pressure raises the “spring rate” in the tire itself and changes the vehicle’s handling characteristics. If his race vehicle was “tight” coming off a corner, a driver might request a slight air pressure increase in the right rear tire to “loosen it up.”
ANGLE OF ATTACK
The angle of an Indy car style wing. The angle is varied by track to produce optimal down-force and minimize drag.
ANTI-ROLL BAR
A lateral torsion bar used to resist or counteract the swaying force of the car body through the turns.
APEX
The geometric inside center point of a corner. In racing, a driver will often use a “late apex,” turning into the corner a little later than normal in order to straighten out the last part of the corner. This allows the driver to accelerate earlier and harder, gaining maximum speed down the next straight.
APRON
The paved portion of a racetrack that separates the racing surface from the infield. It is usually flat in comparison to the racing surface.

B

BACK MARKER
A car running off the pace near the rear of the field.
BACK OFF
To slow down; often said of a driver who is attempting to pass and realizes he can’t make it, so he backs off to try again later.
BACK OUT
When a driver takes his foot off the gas pedal (all the way or part way), he “backs out” or “lifts off.”
BALANCE
When a car doesn’t tend to over-steer or under-steer, but goes around the racetrack as if its on rails, it’s said to be in balance. See Neutral
BANKING
On oval tracks, the corners are often tilted inward to provide faster speeds. On some road courses, certain turns may actually be banked outward, a very difficult type of corner known as “off-camber.”
BANKED TURN
A turn that’s inclined so the outside area is higher than the inside area.
BEND
A shallow turn.
BERM
Raised sections of asphalt or cement which runs along the inside and/or outside of a turn, usually painted colors to offset it from the track. Primarily used at apexes and track-out points as a driver’s aid.
BLACK FLAG
The signal for a driver to come into the pits, usually to allow officials to inspect it to determine whether it can run safely after an accident. It may also mean that officials have already decided the car is to slow or too dangerous to continue running, as when it has a serious oil leak that makes the track slippery.
BLUE FLAG
This flag is displayed by corner workers around the track to signal to a driver that a faster car is either approaching (steady flag) or attempting a pass (waved flag). The driver being flagged has no obligation to do anything other than be alert, maintain the racing line and avoid intentionally obstructing the faster car.
BINDERS
Brakes. Used in the expression “jumped on the binders.”
BITE
The amount of traction that a race car has at the rear wheels. Adjustments can be made to the car that puts more “bite” into the rear tires by adding weight or wedge to the car.
BLIND TURN
A turn in which the driver cannot see the apex or track-out until it is reached. Sometimes due to elevation changes, but can also be due to visual obstructions such as Armco, tire walls, or other barriers.
BLIP THE THROTTLE
To tap the accelerator pedal when downshifting in order to match the revolutions of the engine to the revolutions of the transmission to keep the drive wheels rotating smoothly.
BLISTER
Excessive heat can make a tire literally blister and shed rubber. Drivers can detect the problem by the resulting vibrations and risk more serious damage if they choose not to pit.
BLOCKING
Racing term for changing position on the track to prevent drivers behind from passing. Blocking is accepted if a car is defending position in the running order but considered unsportsmanlike if lapped cars hold up more competitive teams.
BLOW UP
Irreparable engine failure which ends a racer’s day.
BLOWER
A slang term for Supercharger.
BLOWN ENGINE
1. An engine that has completely failed. 2. Slang term for a supercharged engine.
BOBBLE
A miscue by a driver.
BOOST
The amount of pressure generated by a turbocharger or supercharger as it forces the air/fuel mixture into a forced induction engine.
BOW TIE
Nickname attributed to Chevrolet based on the likeness of its logo.
BRAIN FADE
A lack of focus that can lead to making a mistake during a race.
BRAKE BIAS
In most cars, including street cars, pressing on the brake pedal applies a little more force to the front brakes than the rear. This is designed to take advantage of the fact that under braking, weight transfers to the front of the car. With lots of weight on the front tires, the brakes can be applied very hard without completely stopping the wheels from rotating (“locking the wheels”). At the same time, the rear of the car tends to get lighter, so the rear brakes must be engaged less than the fronts to avoid locking the rear wheels and possibly losing control. In a race car, brake bias is adjustable by the driver to compensate for changing conditions, such as on a wet track where there is less weight transfer to the front of the car under braking, or to adjust for a changing center of gravity as fuel is burned off.
BRAKE FADE
Loss of braking effectiveness, usually caused by overheating. Brakes transform motion into heat. The heat in the rotors of a car can reach 5,000 degrees F. When the fluid in the brake system exceeds its boiling point due to hard use, bubbles can form in the brake lines and calipers. Since these bubbles can be squeezed smaller by pressure from the brake pedal, the pedal tends to “go soft” and may even go to the floorboard without the brakes working properly.
BRICKYARD
Nickname given to the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) which, although paved now, used to have a brick surface. The track hosts the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Brickyard 400.
BURN OFF
Burning fuel during the course of a race. As fuel is burned, the car becomes lighter and its handling characteristics change, challenging the driver and crew to make adjustments to achieve balance.

C

CADENCE BRAKING
An advanced driving technique used to allow a car to both steer and brake. It is accomplished by pulsing the brake pedal to alternate between wheel lock-up and wheel rotation. This method is not as effective as threshold braking.
CAMBER
The angle that wheels are tilted inward or outward from vertical. If the top of the wheel is tilted inward, the camber is negative.
CART
Acronym for Championship Auto Racing Teams Inc., the sanctioning organization for the PPG CART World Series.
CASTER
Another measure of chassis tuning related to the front wheels. The front wheels are attached to the suspension at the top and bottom of the wheel assembly. The top attachment is typically set a little farther back than the lower attachment, creating caster. The more caster used, the more the wheel resists turning forces, providing stability. Too much caster makes it very difficult to steer, and causes the tire camber to change significantly as the wheel is turned. Not enough caster results in the front end “wandering,” or trying to turn on its own.
CENTER OF PRESSURE
The point on a Indy car under-wing which receives the greatest amount of airflow pressure. This measurement is critical to setting front to rear balance, especially on superspeedways.
CHASSIS
The basic structure of a race car to which all other components are attached. Indy cars have carbon-fiber monocoque “tubs” while a NASCAR stock car has a steel tube frame chassis.
CHASSIS ROLL
The up-and-down movement caused when a car travels around corners at high speeds. The side of the car facing the turn becomes lighter while the extra weight goes toward the outside of the turn.
CHECKED OUT
Expression when the leader drives away from the rest of the field and will seem impossible to catch.
CHECKERED FLAG
The black and white checkerboard style flag which signifies the end of a race.
CHICANE
A man-made corner set up to reduce speed at a certain point on a road track. Also referred to as “esses”.”
CHUNKING
A softer compound rain tire will shed pieces of rubber if a track becomes too dry.
CHUTE
A straightaway.
CIRCUIT
Any race track. Also refers to the entire slate of races on a season schedule.
CIRCULATING
Driving around a track with a damaged and/or slow car to accumulate laps and, more importantly, points and prize money.
CLEAN AIR
Air without turbulence created in the wake of other race cars. Clean air is found at the very front of the field.
CLIPPING
Minor contact between race cars. Also often refers to hitting precisely, or “clipping,” the apex of a turn.
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.
COCKPIT
The area where the driver sits in a race car.
COLLECTED
When a car is caught in an incident that they did not cause. If a car spins and is struck by a second car to a stop, the second car is said to be collected.
COMBINATIONS
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.
COMPOUND
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.
COMPROMISE CORNER
See Type 3 Corner.
CONSTANT RADIUS CORNER
A corner in which the turning radius is constant.
CONTACT PATCH
The small portion of the tire that makes contact with the racing surface. This is one of the more important elements of a driver’s success, different modifications to the car’s body and tires can help the driver get a good contact patch.
CORNER WORKER
Volunteers who staff corners to notify drivers of any dangerous situations in the area.
COSWORTH
Engine manufacturing company which has cooperatively developed racing motors with Ford for many years. Named after co-founders Mike Costain and Keith Duckworth.
COUNTERSTEER
Turning the front wheels in the direction of a slide to prevent the car from spinning out of control.
CURB
See berm.

D

DARLINGTON STRIPE
A NASCAR term for getting the right hand side of the car close to the outside wall and rubbing the sheet metal and paint.
DAG
Acronym for “Data Acquisition Geek,” a computer expert who maintains a team’s Data Acquisition system and analyzes the data.
DATA AQUISITION
Teams use sophisticated sensors, transmitters, computers and software to provide information on what the car and the driver are doing. Everything from engine stress to the driver’s heartbeat can be monitored. The information is analyzed to improve handling, performance and even driver technique. Data can be acquired by connecting a computer to the car or by wireless telemetry. In sim-racing, this data is recorded during a race and is accessible to be analyzed, sometime with additional software, much like in real racing.
DECK LID
The trunk lid of a stock car.
DECREASING RADIUS CORNER
Where a turn becomes tighter before it’s exit, requiring progressively more steering input.
DICING
Close, exciting driving between 2 or more racers. Positions are exchanged frequently.
DNF
Did not finish.
DNS
Did not start.
DNQ
Did not qualify.
DIALING IN
This refers to the driver and crew making setup adjustments to achieve the car’s optimum handling characteristics.
DIRT TRACK
A track that is not paved, with dirt, clay, or a mixture of the two.
DIRT TRACKING
Driving hard into a corner on a paved track causing the rear end to swing out wide as if on a dirt surface.
DIRTY AIR
The turbulence created in the air flow behind a race car.
DOWNFORCE
The downward force generated as air flows around a moving object. Indy series vehicles use wings while NASCAR vehicles use rearend spoilers to create downforce.
DOWNSHIFTING
Shifting from a higher to a lower gear, used in road racing to slow a car without any significant change in engine speed.
DQ
Disqualified from the event. Usually for safety reasons, the car not meeting certain standards, or for negative behavior.
DRAFTING
The aerodynamic effect that allows two or more cars traveling nose-to-tail to run faster than a single car. When one car follows another closely, the one in front cuts through the air, providing a cleaner path of air and less resistance for the car in back.
DRAG
A term used in auto racing that relates to anything that causes wind resistance or affects the aerodynamics of air flow over the race car.
DRIFT or DRIFTING
A controlled, four-wheel slide through a turn, to get a car line up for a straightaway with a minimum of steering.
DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
Points are awarded at each race based on finishing position. The driver accumulating the most points by the end of the season wins the drivers’ championship. A similar award system is used by most major series for a manufacturers’ championship.
DRIVE WHEELS
The wheels that provide propulsion to a vehicle. The front wheels in front-wheel-drive cars and the rear in rear-wheel-drive cars.
DRIVING AWAY
This is when a driver is pulling away from the field with little challenge from anyone else in the race.
DRY WEIGHT
A car’s weight without any liquids such as gas and oil.
DROP THE HAMMER
Means a driver puts the petal to the metal.
DRY LINE
A clear (or dry) line which develops after rain because of more frequent use.

E

EARLY APEX
A driver turns into a corner early.
ECONOMY RUN
Driving slower to conserve fuel.
END PLATE
The vertical end piece of a wing.
ESSES
A series of acute left- and right-hand turns on a road course, one turn immediately following another.
E.T.
Elapsed time.

F

F1
Abbreviation for Formula One.
FAST QUALIFIER
The driver that had the fastest lap during qualifying.
FIA
Federation Internationale de l’Automobile. This is the governing body for most auto racing around the world.
FIELD
The group of cars that starts a race or the total number of cars in attendance.
FILL THE MIRRORS
A driver is pressuring another driver so feverishly that the rear-view mirror is filled their pursuer.
FISHTAIL
Movement of the rear end of a car from side to side. Also a verb, as in, “His car is really fishtailing as it comes out of the turn.”
FLAGMAN
The person standing on the tower above the Start/Finish Line who controls the race with a series of flags.
FLAT SPOT
When drivers lock up brakes, they expose one area of their tires to excessive wear causing flat spots to develop. Flat spots lead to vibrations which may require a tire stop.
FLAT-OUT
At top speed; with the accelerator to the floor.
FORCED INDUCTION
When air is forced into an engine to increase horsepower, such as with supercharging and turbocharging.
FORMULA CAR
Formula cars must fit within a specific set of design rules or “formula.” The formulas are usually quite complex, but basic issues include minimum weight, engine displacement, vehicle dimensions, wing sizes and placement, ground-effects tunnel size and configuration, tire and wheel size, and safety considerations.
FRESH RUBBER
A new set of tires acquired during a Pit Pass.
FULL TANK PRACTICE
Ordinarily, teams fill their fuel tanks for the last practice before a race to test handling characteristics. Before then, they practice and qualify with limited fuel to decrease weight and gain speed.

G

GASOLINE ALLEY
The garage area at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
GAS CAN
Large steel can used to fill the tank of NASCAR racers during a pit stop. A car usually holds two 10 gallon cans of fuel.
GAS CATCHER
The person on a NASCAR pit crew that uses a small catch can to catch the overflow of gas from a rear pipe as the tank is filled on a pit stop.
GAS MAN
The person on a pit crew with the job of filling the car with fuel from either a can (NASCAR venue) or from a filler hose (IRL, CART or F1).
GATOR STRIPS
A berm with exaggerated raised portions, often rough enough to deter drivers from driving over them.
GAVE UP
Drivers use this to describe a mechanical part that fails.
GOES UP THROUGH THE GEARS
Refers to a driver up-shifting from the lowest to the highest gear.
GOT UNDER
A driver out brakes an opponent on the inside of a turn and makes a pass.
GRAND PRIX
This French term meaning grand prize is widely used to refer to a race. At one time in racing, it was used exclusively for a series’ grand finale, usually the most important race.
GREEN FLAG
The green flag is used by the starter to signal drivers that the race is under way, either at the start of the event or at the conclusion of a full-course yellow flag condition. Green flags are used by corner workers on road courses to let drivers know that they have passed beyond a yellow flag area and may resume passing.
GREEN TRACK
A track that has little or no rubber on it from previous races. A green track is a bad condition that allows little or no traction for a race car.
GREENHOUSE
The upper area of the race car that extends from the base of the windshield in the front, the tops of the doors on the sides, and the base of the rear window in the back. Includes all of the A, B and C pillars, the entire glass area and the car’s roof.
GRID
The starting order of cars, as determined by qualifying position.
GROOVE
The unseen “line” that provides the fastest way around a racecourse or racing circuit. The groove is not a fixed point or “trajectory” as it may change during a race. The groove may depend on such factors as temperature and moisture, as well as oil, water and rubber deposited on the track during a race – all of which impact race conditions to various degrees.
GROUND EFFECTS
Aerodynamically designed parts which are fitted to the lower areas of a car to create additional down-force. Many production car owners add ground effects more for style than function.
GURNEY FLAP
A vertical extension to the back edge of an Indy car wing invented by racing legend Dan Gurney to generate more down-force, especially at higher angles of attack. This device is usually made of metal, aluminum or carbon fiber and is also known as a wickerbill or a return.
GYMKHANA
A competition in which cars are driven around a twisting course, executing certain specified maneuvers, against the clock.

H

HAIRPIN
A sharp, 180-turn which exits in the opposite direction a driver enters.
HAMMER DOWN
The driver has the pedal to the metal or has “dropped the hammer” full throttle.
HEEL-AND-TOE
A driving technique in which the accelerator is operated with the right heel and the brake pedal with the toes of the right foot. This allows the driver to ‘blip’ the throttle to bring up the engine revolutions to match the transmission revolutions, keeping the drive wheel rotating at a constant speed.
HOLE SHOT
A drag racing term for beating an opponent off the starting line and winning a race despite having a slower elapsed time. Other racers use this term to describe a good start or restart.
HOLDING UP TRAFFIC
When a slower race car causes cars running faster on the track to slow and does not heed the “move over flag” of the race officials.
HOOKED UP
A car that is performing great because all parts are “hooked up” or working well together.
HORSEPOWER
The estimated power needed to lift 33,000 lbs. one foot per minute roughly equated with a horse’s strength.
HOT LAP
A car(s) is running at or near racing speed on the course.
HOT PITS
A car(s) is/are on the track. Only crew members and racing officials are allowed into the pits for safety reasons.

I

IMS
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Also referred to as the Brickyard.
IMSA
The International Motor Sports Association. The North American road racing sanctioning body featuring prototype GTS sports car series.
INCREASING RADIUS CORNER
A corner in which the radius increases as you progress through it. Vehicle speed can usually be increased sooner through these types of corners.
INFIELD
The enclosed portion of a track which includes team garages on most oval tracks. During race weekends, this area is usually filled with large transporters, merchandise trailers, and driver and fan motorhomes.
INSIDE GROOVE OR LINE
On an oval track, this is the innermost racing line which is usually separated from the infield by a distinctly flat surface called an apron. On road courses, the inside groove refers to the line closest to the curbs or walls forming the inner portion of turns.
INTIMIDATOR
Dale Earnhardt’s nick name because of his driving style, which some might call reckless.
IN THE FENCE
A phrase used to describe the wreck of a race car involving several cars or only one car.

J

JUMP THE START
To start before the signal is given; usually in drag racing but sometimes in other forms of racing. “He jumped the start”.

K

KEPT BUSY
A driver is distracted (or kept busy) by another driver who is relentlessly pursuing.
KICK A LEG OUT OF BED
An engine breaks a connecting rod which penetrates the engine block and ends a driver’s day. Announcers describe this as the engine “blowing up.”
KING
The unofficial title given retired racer Richard Petty. Petty has a career high of seven NASCAR driving championships and a record setting 200 separate victories on the track.

L

LAG
1. Turbo lag. The time it takes a turbocharger to “boost” an engine’s power from the moment the driver pushes the throttle.
2. In online racing, the delay in receiving updated speed and position data to your computer resulting in competitors’ cars being in a different place than they are appearing on your screen. Excessive lag may result in disconnecting from a race.
LAG CRASH
A crash on the racetrack in sim racing caused when one player’s computer lags in getting the car’s speed and position information to the other players in the race. As a result, the other players get false information about where that car is in relation to the rest of the cars on the track. When the information is eventually updated, that player’s car may unfortunately in other cars way.
LAP
One complete circuit around the track. As a verb, when the leaders pass the cars at the back of the field, thus putting the second driver more than a lap behind, he is said to have lapped him.
LAPPED CAR
Any race car that is running one or more laps down to the leader of the race.
LAP(S) DOWN
The number of laps a car is running behind the leader of the race. It can range from only one lap to several hundred.
LAUNCH
1.In drag racing it refers to getting a car in motion from the starting line.
2.A car can be propelled or launched into the air (all four wheels are off the ground) by hitting a severe bump or another car.
LATE APEX
Turning into a corner late and missing the optimum apex point.
LEAD LAP
The race leader’s lap. If the leader laps you for the first time, you are no longer on the lead lap.
LE MANS START
A type of start in which the drivers, at the starting signal, run to their cars, start the engines, and begin racing.
LET GO
Most commonly used when an engine fails or “blows up.” Announcers also use this term for other parts of a car that fail.
LIFT
To raise or lift your foot of the gas pedal. Commonly used when drivers have to “lift” after an unsuccessful pass attempt to slow down and get back into the racing line.
LINE
See Groove.
LOCK UP
Just like production cars, racers can lock up the brakes and even “flat spot” their tires at race speeds.
LONG PEDAL
Commonly refers to a car’s gas pedal because of the design. Also used to describe a brake pedal when brakes wear out because the driver has to push the pedal harder and further to slow down.
LOOKS TO PASS
A driver ponders a pass. The driver will actually move over, look at the possible passing area and make a decision to go or not.
LOOSE
A car has more grip in the front than the rear end and tends to “fish tail.” Drivers often report whether the car is “loose” or “tight” so the crew can make Pit Pass adjustments. Please see oversteer.
LOOSE STUFF
Area above the racing line that contains chucks of rubber, stones and other materials that can harm the car or tires and cause a driver to lose control.
LOUD PEDAL
Usually refers to the accelerator pedal.
LOW DRAG SETUP
Adjusting a car’s aerodynamic features to minimize drag which also reduces downforce. This setup achieves better performance on straightaways at the expense of reduced cornering ability.
LOW LINE
See “low groove or line.”

M

MAKING UP TIME
A driver is catching up to or gaining ground an opponent.
MARBLES
Rocks and debris that collect off the racing line. If a driver enters the marbles at an excessive speed, his car will lose grip and drive perilously into awaiting hazards as if a person walked across a bed of marbles.
MAX REVS
Revving a car to its maximum RPM levels.
MILLION DOLLAR BILL
A name given Bill Elliott after his win of the Winston Million in 1985. He was the first driver to meet the required three out of four wins on the major speedways of NASCAR. Only one other driver has done this to date and that was Jeff Gordon in 1997.
MOTORING
When a driver is using the race car in a prudent and wise fashion and not demanding more of the car than it can perform.

N

NASCAR
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. The sanctioning body for the Winston Cup, Craftsman Truck and Busch Grand National series among others.
NEW SPACER
Term used for a new engine because it fills the space between the chassis and transmission.
NERF
To bump lightly against another car, usually from behind and often on purpose, as a warning or a bit of psychology. Very common in NASCAR racing.
NEUTRAL
A term drivers use when referring to how their car is handling. When a car is neither loose nor pushing (tight).
NITROUS
Nitrous Oxide gas. Injected to cool the air/fuel mixture, making it more dense thus increasing power.
NORMALLY-ASPIRATED
Descriptive of an engine that isn’t supercharged nor turbocharged. See supercharger.
NOS
See nitrous.

O

OFF CAMBER TURN
A turn in which the slope of the track angles away from the direction of the turn. Opposite of banking.
OFF LINE
Driving off the best racing line. Drivers will go off line to attempt a pass or to move out of the way of faster cars.
ON THE THROTTLE
A driver has the accelerator pedal pushed all the way down.
OPEN WHEEL
Formula One and Indy car style race cars which are designed to have the suspension, wheels and tires exposed, no fenders.
OPPOSITE LOCK
Turning the steering wheel in the opposite direction of the turn until it won’t turn anymore. Basically, it’s maximum countersteer and usually precedes a spin or going off the track.
OUT BRAKE
A driver gains time and position on an opponent by applying the brakes later and deeper into a corner.
OUTSIDE GROOVE
The outside racing line. Sometimes a car will handle and perform better on the outside/inside line and a driver opts not to use the optimum groove.
OVAL
An oval-shaped track such as Atlanta Motor Speedway.
OVERSTEER
A condition when the front of a car has more grip than the rear. This is the same as a car being “loose.”
OVERTAKE
A term commonly used by announcers meaning a pass.

P

PACE CAR
The car which leads the field to set the pace before starts and restarts after cautions.
PADDOCK AREA
The enclosed portion (or infield) of a race track.
PARADE LAP(S)
The warm-up lap before a race. Drivers use this lap to warm up their engines and often zig-zag to warm up tires.
PARKING LOT
After a big crash which takes out a lot of cars, the track looks like a parking lot.
PHYSICAL CIRCUIT
Usually refers to road courses which require a lot of turning and hence, great physical strength.
PICK UP
Debris built up on tires from rubber bits and small stones.
PINCHED
When a race car on the inside squeezes an outside car by the outside wall, This will cause the outside car to slow down and follow.
PIT BOARD
A board used by crews inform drivers of lap times, lap until pit and other various information. The board is used along with team radios to keep in constant communication.
PIT LANE
See Pit Row
PIT LIZARD
Nickname for a racing groupie.
PIT ROW or PIT ROAD
The area designated for teams to set up temporary garages during races accessible to (“pit out”) and from (“pit in”) the track. Each team is allotted one pit area (or space) per car. Drivers pit so crews can refuel, change tires and make any other repairs or adjustments. Simply called the pits most often.
PIT STOP
An integral part of most racing series where drivers stop in pit row so their crews can change tires, refuel, and make repairs or other adjustments.
PITS
Short for pit row or a dejected driver. Also see hot pits for cold pits.
PLOW
See understeer.
POINT PAYING
In some series (e.g. CART and Formula One), you must finish a certain place or higher to receive points towards the championship. Conversely, NASCAR awards points to any driver who starts a race.
POINTS RACE
The overall competition to win the Drivers’ or Manufacturers’ Championship at the end of the season.
POLE POSITION
The favored position when the race begins. The pole position is located on the inside of the front row. The driver with the fastest qualifying time is awarded the pole position and the cars are lined up from the pole in order of the fastest to the slowest qualifying lap times.
POP-OFF VALVE
In Indy-style racing, this valve is connected to the plenum exiting the turbocharger. Many racing groups supplies these valves in order to restrict the pressure generated by the turbocharger.
POWER PLANT
Commonly used term for engines.
PROVISIONAL STARTING SPOT
Special performance-based exemptions for drivers who do not initially qualify for a race. A driver awarded a provisional spot must start at the back of the starting grid.
PUSH
The rear end of a car has more grip than the front. This condition makes a car harder to turn into a corner. Commonly known as understeer.
PUSHING AND SHOVING
Race cars making contact.

Q

QUALIFIERS OR QUALLIES
Softer compound tires designed for qualifying only because they provide excellent traction but only for a very short amount of time.
QUALIFY
During designated sessions, teams must meet established lap times to qualify for (or enter) a race based on a predetermined number of spots available.

R

RACE RUBBER
Race tires as opposed to qualifying tires.
RACER’S TAPE
Heavy duty duct tape used to temporarily repair hanging body parts which might hinder aerodynamic features and decrease performance. Most commonly used on stock cars (e.g. NASCAR Winston Cup) which use more paneling than Indy-style cars and are accustomed to more contact.
RACING LINE
See groove
RAIN TIRES
Softer compound with better tread for wet-weather conditions. In dry conditions, these softer tires wear faster than harder compound tires with less tread.
REBOUND
In shock absorbers, a rebound adjustment is a change to the dampening of the shock on the expansion stroke. Without rebound dampening, the car would tend to bounce as it passes over bumps on the track. Rebound adjustments can also affect how the weight of the car shifts around during braking, acceleration and cornering.
RED FLAG
When displayed at the start/finish line, a red flag signifies an immediate halt of the session due to a dangerous condition such as a flooded track or a car blocking the track. Corner workers around the track will display black flags when this happens, and all cars are required to stop racing and slowly return to the pits. The lap in progress is discarded, and the field reverts to the order of the previous lap when racing resumes. If the race has run more that 50 percent of the laps, the chief steward has the option to declare a complete race if track conditions are not expected to improve. If a race has run less than 50 percent, it will be concluded on another date.
RED AND YELLOW FLAG
This striped flag is displayed by corner workers to signify debris (oil, sand, water or some other substance) on the track.
RESTART
In sim racing, when a majority of the racers choose to restart, usually after a bad accident which puts most of the cars out of the race.
RESTRICTOR PLATE
A stainless steel plate used between the carburetor and the intake manifold to limit the amount of fuel and air reaching the engine. It is used to slow down the race cars on certain high speed NASCAR tracks like Daytona Speedway.
RETURN
A vertical flap attached to a Indy car wing for increased downforce. Please see Gurney Flap.
REV
To gun an engine. As a noun, “revs” is short for “revolutions per minute.”
REV LIMITER
Modern engines are controlled by electronic “mapping” software that controls things such as fuel consumption and ignition timing. Rev limiting is used for two purposes: to keep the engine from exceeding its maximum rotational speed and exploding into bits of very expensive shrapnel, and to adhere to speed limit rules in the pit lane. Maximum rev limits are set by the engine manufacturer, while the pit lane rev limiter is controlled by a pushbutton on the steering wheel.
RIDE HEIGHT
The distance from the bottom of the chassis to the ground when the car is at full speed. This is regulated at a distance of two inches off the ground. The lower the ride height, the lower the center of gravity which improves handling. Lower ride height may also mean less suspension travel which can cause loss of control when driving over bumps.
RIDING THE RAILS
Taking the outside line around a turn.
ROAD COURSE
A race track with multiple left and right hand turns. Generally refers to permanent, purpose-built racing facilities. Can also refer to temporary street courses built on big city streets which were popularized in the 1980’s.
ROLL BAR
Large, sturdy bars designed to protect a driver’s head if the car rolls over. Very functional in race cars but used more for style in production cars. Most production and race cars use anti-roll (or sway) bars as part of the suspension to prevent the excessive rolling in corners.
ROLLING START
The race begins after the pace car leaves the track while the cars are moving. Formula One opts for a standing start where the cars start from a standstill.
ROUNDY ROUND
A slang term in NASCAR used to describe an oval track.
RUBBING
Racing announcers use this describe cars that make contact but don’t crash. Also called “pushing and shoving.”
RUNNING ANYWHERE
A car is handling so well, a driver can use any racing line (or drive anywhere.) Sometimes, handling problems lead to a preferred line where the car handles better.
RUNNING LIGHT
A car is running with little fuel. Teams qualify with a light load to achieve maximum speed.

S

SAVING THE CAR/TIRES
Driving a car somewhat moderately to conserve the cars mechanical parts and lessen tire wear. This allows a driver to be more aggressive during the all-important final laps.
SCUFFS
Tires that have been run a few laps in practice to heat them up. This make them adhere better under race conditions. Term used in NASCAR racing.
SCRUBBED TIRES
The best kind of racing tire because they’ve had a few laps of wear to normalize the surface. Term used in CART, IRL and F1.
SEAT TIME
Time sitting behind the wheel, competing in a race, qualifying, etc.
SETUP
The combination of settings for a car’s engine, aerodynamic features and tires/wheels. Teams make continual adjustments to a car’s setup during pit stops based on driver input.
SETUP SHEETS
Documents with recorded setups from different tracks under varying weather conditions. Teams use this baseline to adjust setups when they arrive at a track.
SHAKEDOWN
First test with a brand-new car, suspension setup or engine.
SHIFT POINTS
The best engine r.p.m. at which to shift gears. Some production and race cars have lights to indicate when a driver should shift gears.
SHOCK ABSORBER
A device used in a vehicles’ suspension to control the oscillation of the spring, using hydraulic oil or gas in a sealed cylinder. Also referred to as a damper because it “dampens” the springs’ natural bump and rebound movements.
SHOOT OUT
Two or more drivers race to the end for victory.
SHUNT
British term for crash or accident.
SHUT DOWN
Turning a car off to avoid mechanical damage or an accident. Often times, drivers shut down so a mechanical problem doesn’t lead to more severe and expensive consequences. Drag racers often shut their cars down when they get out of control.
SHUTTER BRAKING
See Cadence Braking.
SLIPSTREAM
See Drafting
SPRING RUBBER
A circular rubber device added to the front springs of a stock car to stiffen the spring ratio and make the car handle better. Often these are added or removed during pit stops.
SLICKS
Tires with no tread designed for dry weather conditions.
SLICK TRACK
Usually an oval track with an unusual amount of oil and other fluids on it making it difficult to drive.
SLINGSHOTTING
Passing a car by first drafting to conserve power, then suddenly moving out of the slipstream and using the reserve power.
SLIP STREAM
The cavity of low-pressure area created by a moving object. In racing, drivers use this slip stream to draft another vehicle.
SPIN or SPIN-OUT
To lose control so that the car revolves around its vertical axis.
SPOILER
An air deflector that diminishes the tendency of a car to lift off the track at high speed, thus improving the adhesion of the tires to the road.
STAGGER (OPEN WHEEL)
On ovals, teams may use a different size tire (or stagger) on the outside wheel to improve the car’s handling ability.
STAGGER (CLOSED WHEEL)
The amount of flex in the side wall of a tire in racing. Race teams can use the stagger of the tire to stiffen the spring ratio of the car by adding air to the tire and thereby change how the car handles.
STANDING START
In Formula One racing, the field starts from a gridded standstill (standing) start unlike rolling starts in most other types of racing.
STICK
Slang term used for tire traction.
STICKERS
Brand-new tires with the manufacturer’s label (or sticker) still on the surface. Teams generally use sticker tires during qualifying, then use scrubbed tires in a race. See scuffs or scrubbed tires.
STOP-AND-GO PENALTY
A penalty which requires a driver to stop at their team’s pit for a timed penalty before reentering the race. This penalty can be assessed for anything from speeding in the pits to contact with an opponent. This is usually signaled by a Black Flag.
SUPERCHARGER
A high-powered fan that forces air into the engine, increasing power. See also turbocharger.
SUPERSPEEDWAY
A 1 to 2+-mile oval track.
SWAY BAR
See Anti-roll bar. Also called Anti-Sway-Bar
SWEEPER
A large sweeping corner on a road or street course.
SWITCHBACK
A hairpin turn; British.
SWOL
An acronym referring to the electronic “Shift With Out a Lift” device, which allows gear shifts without lifting off the throttle, making the shift faster.

T

TAKE A LOOK
A driver following closely behind another car may dart momentarily to the inside at the entry to a corner, pretending to attempt a pass in order to disrupt the concentration of the driver in front and hopefully cause a small mistake, setting up a subsequent passing attempt.
TALENT
Television announcers.
TAPED OFF
Usually refers to applying racer’s tape to the brake duct opening in full bodied cars.
TEAR OFFS
Transparent plastic strips applied to helmet visors or windshield (NASCAR). As these strips accumulate debris, a driver or pit crew can tear a dirty strip off for a clear view. Drivers in open cars go through about five tear-offs a race. In NASCAR, this is a new approach to the old problem of giving the driver a clear view.
TECH
Short for tech (or technical) inspection. Each car is submitted to tech inspection so sanctioning body officials can confirm all chassis and engine parts meet series’ guidelines. A “teched” car has passed inspections.
TELEMETRY
Highly sophisticated electronics which transmit performance data back to a team’s pit.
TEN-TENTHS
A car or driver’s absolute upper limit, as fast as either can possibly go.
THRESHOLD BRAKING
A braking technique which requires a race driver to apply brake pedal pressure as hard and late as possible without locking the tires and without affecting the racing line, turn-in, or apex.
TIRE WALL
A safety barrier usually constructed of tires which are either stacked in a specific manner or fastened together so as to provide maximum protection from solid walls or other detrimental environments (such as wooded areas).
THROTTLE
The gas pedal.
TOE
Looking at the car from the front, the amount the tires are turned in or out. If you imagine your feet to be the two front tires of a race car, standing with your toes together would represent toe-in. Standing with your heels together would represent toe-out.
TOP END POWER
The amount a car accelerates at high speeds or in its highest gear.
TRADING PAINT
Aggressive driving involving a lot of bumping and rubbing.
TRAIL BRAKING
A braking technique which requires a driver to apply brake pedal pressure during a turn so as to reduce speed as little as possible, without losing control. Sometimes referred to as “late braking”.
TRACK
1) A racing circuit regardless of shape, distance, or intended use. Can be an oval, a tri-oval, a straight line, a figure “8”, a closed road course, etc., 2) The width of a car as measured between the outside of the left and right tires.
TRACK OUT
To carry enough speed at the exit of a turn to require using the entire width of the track, sometimes referred to as “drift out”.
TRI-OVAL
A race track that has a “hump” or “fifth turn” in addition to the standard four corners. Not to be confused with a triangle-shaped speedway, which has three distinct corners.
TUB
The chassis or monocoque of a Indy-style race car.
TUCK UNDER
A driver follows an opponent close enough to move into (or tuck under) their draft.
TURBO LAG
See Lag.
TURBO OR TURBOCHARGER
A device which pressurizes air, pumps it into the engine and “boosts” a car’s performance. Essentially the condensed air increases the air/fuel mixture to create more power.
TURBULENCE
Rough air encountered by race car drivers.
TURN IN
As a car reaches a corner, this is the moment at which a driver actually begins to turn the wheel. The timing of this action and the car’s response to it are crucial for setting fast lap times.
TWEAK
To fine tune an engine or suspension or make any minor modifications that will result in a slight power or handling increase.
TYPE 1 CORNER
A corner that leads into a straight.
TYPE 2 CORNER
A corner which is preceded by a straight.
TYPE 3 CORNER
A corner that leads into another corner. Also known as a compromise corner.

U

UNDERSTEER
When a car has more traction (or grip) in the rear than in the front.
UNLAP
A driver down one lap passes the leader to regain position on the lead lap.
UNSPRUNG WEIGHT
The mass of the wheels, brakes, suspension and other components connected directly to them rather than being supported by the suspension. The mass of all components that travel up and down with the suspension. This may also include the mass of axles, bearings, bolts, and the partial weight of driveshafts.

V

VALANCE
See Air Dam
VEER
To gently steer in one direction.
VORTEX
In wet conditions, race cars can produce vortexes off their rear ends or wings. These vapor trails are similar to those produced by the engines of jet planes.
Top of Page

W

WARM-UP LAP
The lap before a race starts. Drivers use this parade lap to warm up their engines and tires.
WEAVING
Zig-zagging across the track to warm up and clean off tires, or to confuse an opponent while attempting a pass.
WETS
Tires designed to perform better in the rain.
WEDGE
The process of adding weight to the rear of a race car. It is done by shifting the amount of weight applied to the rear wheels by tightening the pressure on the rear springs.
WINDOW NET
A woven mesh that hangs across the driver’s side window, to prevent the driver’s head and limbs from being exposed during an accident.
WINDSCREEN
A transparent fiberglass surface on the front of a car designed to aid air flow and deflect turbulent air from the driver.
WINGS
Aerodynamic surfaces mounted to the back of a race cars to create downforce. Race car wings employ the opposite aerodynamic designs as airplane wings (which create lift to help an aircraft elevate) to create this downforce.
WINSTON MILLION, THE
A $1 million award given to any NASCAR Winston Cup driver who wins three of four selected races — the Daytona 500, the Winston Select 500 (Talladega), the Coca-Cola 600 (Charlotte), and the Mountain Dew Southern 500 (Darlington).
WINSTON CUP
The world’s premier stock car racing series sanctioned by NASCAR. Racing legends such as Bill Elliott and Rusty Wallace have made their names in Winston Cup. Term also given to the trophy awarded to each season’s Drivers’ Champion.
WHITE FLAG
When waved by the starter, this signifies the start of the last lap of the race. When waved by a corner worker, it signifies that a slow-moving vehicle is on the track.
WHITE AND RED FLAG
Used by the starter, this white flag with a diagonal red stripe indicates that an emergency or service vehicle is on the track, and extreme caution should be used.
WONDER BOY
A name given to Jeff Gordon by some of his detractors. Frankly, he is a “wonder” having won 27 races and two NASCAR driving championships by the age of 26. Gordon will likely be a wonder no matter how long he races.

Y

YELLOW FLAG
The Yellow Flag signifies “caution” during a race and is usually waved to signal that an accident has taken place or debris (such as gasoline, oil or parts) remains on the track after a crash. Cars are required to slow down and not to pass while the hazard is being cleared.
YELLOWTAIL
A rookie NASCAR driver, so called because cars driven by rookies have yellow rear bumpers.

Z

ZIG ZAG
To sharply move back-and-forth on the track. Drivers often zig zag on warm-up laps to heat up their tires.

May 1

What is Sim-Racing?

Sim Racing is short for “simulation racing”. Sim racing refers to racing in a simulated environment, usually electronic, with realistic physics affecting the car. As opposed to a racing video game, which is designed to be easily driven by novices, sim racing software will more accurately mimic the effects of tire traction, suspension spring rates, etc. Because of the accurate physics being replicated in the software, the cars are not as forgiving when the driver pushes the car beyond its limits as they would be in the more popular video games.

As a result, the driver must drive the cars with the same skills and techniques of real race car drivers. The driver must keep the car well balanced to retain traction on all four tires and follow a good racing line to achieve the best results. Failure to keep the car under control and the car will spin out of control, or worst yet, slide into a wall and put you out of the race.

Since sim-racing can provide such a realistic experience, many amateur and professional race car drivers use sim-racing as a tool to improve their skills.

Ricmotech specializes in bring together the right combination of components to create the most realistic virtual driving cockpit available. Our unique design and suites of technologies, such as DriveSight, helps the user get the best experience possible out of the sim-racing experience.

March 23

How to Install the RealGear Wheel Upgrade on the Logitech G27

RealGear Wheel Upgrade

As you probably know, there are lots of aftermarket wheel adapters available to put a real aftermarket wheel on a Logitech G27 gaming wheel. They are all pretty simple and do an adequate job, but I felt I could do better. I found several weaknesses with the existing offerings. For starters, most wheel adapters are fairly thick to accommodate the original screws that come with the G27. Secondly, the steering wheel mounted buttons are lost in the process. Lastly, to get the paddles to work with the larger aftermarket wheel, they have to be replaced with larger ones which have to be purchased separately. I decided to design a complete kit that was designed to work together. I created an adapter that is thinner than anything currently on the market. By making it thinner, it keeps the wheel closer to the base and minimizes wobble in the wheel. I created the adapter to be large enough to have 6 low-profile push buttons mounted to it and they are wired back to the original G27 electronics so not only is all the wiring concealed and tangle-free, but it makes the buttons operational with the PS2/PS3. The wheel itself is a Grant wheel selected for its size, weight, and overall look and feel. The paddles are unique as well. They are a 2-piece design with built-in adjustability. There are 2 positions fore and aft and 6 positions left to right for a total of 12 possible positions. This permits the user to place the paddles in the ideal position so they work for any size hand, even if you prefer to gloves while driving. There are many more details such as a wheel center cap, recessed areas for button labels and an included sheet of 154 pre-printed labels to personalize the wheel. Take a look at the installation video to see how easily the whole thing goes together.

March 1

PC Graphics Cards for Sim-Racing

Asus Graphics Card with nVidia GPU

­­I frequently get asked about graphics cards for sim-racing PCs. Which model? Should I do multiples? Which brand? Why can’t I use the one already in the PC. These are all good questions and I’ll try to cover them all.

The Job of the GPU

First, let’s talk about the role of the graphics processing unit, or GPU, vs the CPU where it pertains to graphics. In a sim-racing PC (SRPC), the job of the CPU is to figure out where everything is on the track. It calculates where every car should be, where the pavement is and where the grass is, where the trees are located, where the barrier is, where the grandstands are, the course workers, the shapes of all these objects and most importantly it figures out where the player is standing, what direction the player is facing and where the light sources are located. It then gives all this information to the GPU along with image files of what every object looks like. These image files are called textures and they are used to ‘wrap’ the shapes so they look like the objects they are supposed to be.

It then becomes the GPUs job to figure out what objects can be seen by the player, what objects are obstructed by other objects, what objects can be seen through other objects such as glass and smoke, where the shadows land, what can be seen in reflections, what sides of the objects are illuminated by the light sources and which sides are in the dark, and many more details. Finally, it smoothes and blends the colors together to make the image look natural.

Since a moving picture is really just a series of still images flashed quickly one after the other, this process has to repeat for every frame. To get smooth video, the human eye needs to see 60 images per second, this where the 60Hz refresh rate comes in. There are monitors that are capable of faster refresh rates but for your GPU to handle them they need to perform the above operations at a faster rate.

Please understand that there is a lot of work that a GPU has to perform in a very short amount of time, 1/60 of a second at most. Unless you have an extremely powerful GPU, it typically cannot do everything it needs to do in such a short amount of time. When it can’t finish “painting” the image in the allotted amount of time, the monitor then displays the same image as the previous frame as a placeholder. The resulting effect is a stutter in the video. Most often this only happens during difficult images to generate and can last for several consecutive frames which results in frames only updating 30 times per second which makes the race seem like its moving in slow motion, similar to strobe lights at a nightclub.

Typically there are two ways to solve this, either get a more powerful GPU or turn down the details in the image. Often times, it’s a combination of both. All PC games have a graphics settings screen where you can turn on/off various details that require significant time to render. Details such as smoke, shadows, spectators, images in the mirrors, etc. These details can be turned off without affecting the driver’s performance in the race. Surely, anyone can drive a car that doesn’t cast a shadow, or that doesn’t generate smoke.

The Perfect Video Card

So the point of this long involved explanation is to demonstrate why there is no perfect answer to the question; which graphics card should I get? It is by far easier for the game developers to add more visual details than it is for the GPU designers to make a GPU that can handle it. So my answer would be spend at least $150 on a graphics card and buy the most powerful you can afford.

Single-Monitor Graphics Card

I am an nVidia partner so I am most familiar with their product line, so my recommendations will be based these products. For a single monitor setup I recommend the GTX 660ti or above. Get one with the largest capacity of VRAM (video memory) available. These graphics cards are not only cabale of driving most common displays, but they can also run most simulation titles in 3D using 3DTV which can be unlocked by purchasing a small piece of nVidia software. The graphics cards are also equipped with G-Sync, an nVidia technology which allows the refresh rate of the monitor to adjust to the speed of the GPU.

This single graphics card can handle triple surround monitors by simply adding an additional identical GPU card with the same amount of memory. For simplicities sake, I always recommend using two identical card brands and models. While this is a great option for those of you that want to start with a single monitor and upgrade as you get more serious, I recommend a more powerful graphics card for those looking to build a triple monitor solution from the start.

Triple-Monitor Graphics Card

For those looking to get a graphics card specifically for triple monitor sim-racing, I recommend a single high-end graphics card, a GTX 790 or even the GTX 980 graphics card. The reason is pretty simple, the video memory is optimized. Each GPU needs its own bank of memory to perform its job. When multiple graphics cards are used, each graphics card keeps the same information in memory rather than sharing the memory. As a result, you may have purchased two graphics cards with 4GB of memory on each, but you don’t get the performance of 8GB, only the performance of 4GB.

Conclusion

If you are planning on a single monitor setup, then get an upper-midrange graphics card. If you think you will ever want to upgrade to a triple monitor setup, the get a high-end graphics card. In short, I only recommend building a system with two or more graphics cards when those graphics cards are the most powerful already in existence. In other words, the only reason to use multiple graphics cards is to achieve performance that exceeds the currently available GPUs.

Please remember that in order to implement multiple nVidia graphics cards your motherboard must be nVidia SLI certified. This insures you get the most out of your multiple graphics card setup. If you have any questions on this post or a suggestion for other topics, please leave a comment. Thanks.

February 21

Installing the LC27 Load Cell Mod Kit

Many users find that opening up their gear to make modification is intimidating. I created a video that demonstrates the step-by-step installation of the LC27 load cell modification kit. This modification makes a huge improvement in the pedal response by changing from a position based input to a force based input. It turns out it’s much easier to consistently apply force to the brake pedal than it is to apply a small amount of movement with your foot. Watch how easy it is to install the upgrade kit.