Glossary of Motorsport Terms

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  • Camber - A.)The angle at which wheels are set up to tilt in or out, measured in degrees in or out from 90 degrees (i.e. "2.5 degrees negative camber" means each wheel is tilted 2.5 degrees inwards from vertical) "Positive camber" means the top of the tyre is angled outwards from the car; "negative camber" means that the top tilts inwards. Negative camber assists cornering performance as the outside tyres lean into the corner (like a motorcycle) which keeps the lateral forces on the tire lower and causes less flex in the sidewall, although it does also have the effect of increasing tyre wear. Or B.) Banking, the angle at which a corner inclines towards the outside or a straight from its lower side to its higher side. Sometimes specified as positive camber and negative camber, the latter indicating a decline from the inside of a corner.
  • Catch fence - A series of chain-link fencing used to slow out of control cars down. It is common on American short tracks and it was common on road course racing prior to the advent of gravel traps.
  • Chase vehicle - In off-road racing, a non-competitive vehicle that follows a competing vehicle to assist with repairs.
  • Chequered flag - A chequered flag indicates to the drivers that the race has ended. During practice and qualifying sessions it is waved at the allotted time, during the race it is shown first to the winner and then to every car that crosses the line behind him.
  • Chicane - A tight sequence of corners in alternate directions, such as in an S-shape. Usually inserted into a circuit to slow down the cars, often just before a high-speed corner or straightaway.
  • Clean air - Air that has not been affected by turbulence from other cars. The opposite of dirty air.
  • Clerk of Course - Responsible for all on-track activities including demonstrations and parades.[citation needed] The supervision of the track and all emergency services should at all times be under the ultimate control of the Clerk of the Course.
  • Closing/shutting the door - A driver takes an early defensive racing line into a corner to block the car behind from overtaking along the preferred line.
  • Cockpit - The area of the car where the driver sits
  • Co-driver - In rally racing, a co-driver directs the driver through the course by reading pacenotes which describe the turns and obstacles ahead. Also called a navigator historically when the reading of maps played a larger part in rallies prior to the widespread adoption of pacenoting. The term is also used in long-distance sports car and touring car racing where more than one driver is sharing the same vehicle.
  • Competition caution - A preplanned full course yellow, mandated by the sanctioning body, where drivers bring their vehicles into the pits. Frequently done to change tires because of excessive tire wear.
  • Continuously variable transmission (CVT) - A Formula One development created by WilliamsF1, it removed the gearbox entirely by creating cogs which could expand and contract as necessary to provide optimum drive during acceleration and or braking, instead of using a collection of cogs and shifting from one size to another to approximate optimum performance. The technology was banned from Formula One in the mid 1990s as it was very expensive. The technology has found application in road cars built by Honda and Nissan, amongst others.
  • Control - Where the series organisers specify that all competitors in the race must use an identical part;[citation needed] as in control tyre or control engine.
  • Crate motor - An engine that is ready-built and sealed by an independent company. Crate motors are sometimes mandated and sometimes optional. They are commonly used in regional touring series down to local tracks in divisions from late models on down. Crate motors are implemented to limit costs and it ensures that the entire field has the same equipment.
  • Customer car - When a racing team uses a car built for them, either by another team, or by a specialist racing chassis manufacturer. Primarily a Formula One term where the majority of teams build their own cars, and practice that is now banned from F1.