“Let’s finish up this Happy Hour, I’ve got to kick a tire.”

“Let’s finish up this Happy Hour, I’ve got to kick a tire.”

Decoding NASCAR Lexicon

Some people just don’t get NASCAR. But, those who are attentive to the details and are fluent in NASCAR-speak will become one of the 75 million fans that are hooked for life.

While the racing illiterate see a herd of cars relentlessly turning left and hear devotees spouting nonsense in the stands — dedicated fans know better. They’re watching, can cozy in hand, to see if crew members are adding a wedge or if a driver is “pitting outside the box.”

As for the so-called nonsense in the stands: those highly-attuned to the subtleties of NASCAR lexicon can translate the apparent babbling into pertinent racing information.

Here’s a crash course in racing jargon so you can understand what is said while you watch Steve Wallace drive the 5-Hour Energy car, in the next NASCAR race:

  • Splash and Go: Saving time during a pit stop by only refueling with enough gas to finish the race.


  • Up against the fence: When a driver is racing in the high line around the track.



  • Stroking: When a driver takes it easy at the beginning of the race to ensure his or her equipment is still functioning at the end of the race.



  • Run out of Talent: Race poorly.



  • Gasser: An aggressive driver who can maneuver effectively to race fast. The opposite of a Field Filler.



  • Lucky Dog: The driver in the lead of the other cars that have been lapped once when the yellow caution flag waves. When racing continues, this driver is placed in the last position with those on the lead lap.



  • Dirty air: The turbulent air currents caused by the lead car, which can cause wrecks.



  • 200 mile-per-hour Tape: Simple colored duct tape used to patch a dinged-up racecar for the remainder of the race.



  • Darlington Stripe: The black mark found on cars that race close to the wall at Darlington Raceway, also known as “The Lady in Black.”



  • The Big Red Trailer: Similar to a principal’s office. If a driver is sat down here, it means he or she has violated rules and will be scolded by NASCAR officials.



  • Apron: The part of the track that separates the racing surface from the infield.



  • “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity, let’s go racing boys”: The catchphrase coined by Darrell Waltrip as the green flag starts each race. DW is a retired racecar driver and the lead analyst for Fox network’s NASCAR telecasts.


Think you’ve got it? Take a stab at these phrases and try to decipher their true meaning:

What is said:“Back’er down rookie, your stickers can’t run flat-out on those marbles”

  • Translation: “Please slow down. You’re inexperienced and, even using new tires, you shouldn’t race at full speed over the pieces of rubber that have accumulated on the outside of the track.”

What is said: “Let’s finish up this Happy Hour, I’ve got to kick a tire.”

  • Translation: “I need to complete the final hour of practice prior to the start of the race, but then I require the use of lavatory facilities.

What is said: “Look at those nice shoes! I think that racer chaser is sufferin’ from the Nomex effect.”

  • Translation: “That very beautiful woman only pursues the attentions of racecar drivers. At present, she seems to be stricken by the attractive nature of the fire-proof suits worn by the drivers.”

With a bit of studying, you too can be a can-cozy-carrying member of the NASCAR fan club.

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