Sandia Motorcycle Roadracing, Inc.
We thought it might be a good to put together a list of several words or terms you might hear around the pits so you can more quickly participate in the conversation, and maybe even find solutions to some common problems more easily. If you hear something you don't understand, ask what it means first, then tell us so we can add it to the list!
Airfence is a safety device designed to keep a motorcyclist who crashes from hitting an obstacle that might injure him or her. It is constructed in manageable sections and strapped together between the track and the obstacle. If you avoid hitting something solid due to airfence you can thank the Roadracing World Action Fund for providing SMRI with the tools to keep you safe. Meanwhile, subscribe to Roadracing World magazine online or in print!
The "apex" is the part of the turn where you, the rider, comes closest to the center point of the arc that describes the turn. The apex is not a geometric feature of the turn, as you can decide where you wish to apex any turn. Rather it is a point you should think about as you negotiate the turn to insure proper entry, corner speed, and proper exit to set up the next turn, a pass on a competitor, or to avoid an obstacle.
A back protector is a device designed to minimize the consequences of an impact to your back in an accident. It spreads the force of an impact over a greater area of your body resulting in a less traumatic event for you. Back protectors were first developed in the 1970s by motorcycle racers and have since developed into scientifically designed and practically proven safety devices. SMRI mandates the use of a back protector for all racers and your back protector cannot be a simple foam pad that came in your leathers but, rather, must be a commercially available device labeled a back protector. The best units extend from your lower neck over your tailbone and can include padding for shoulders and kidneys. Shop carefully, you only have one back.
Backing it in
From back protectors to backing it in! Backing it in is a riding technique adapted by dirt track racers to roadracing in the 1980s when chassis and suspension design easily outstripped tires. Traction of the rear tire is intentionally broken loose resulting in a rear wheel slide to the outside of the turn. The turn is then initiated with the rear tire sliding, resulting in a tighter turning line and a well oriented exit.
A belly pan is an adjunct to most racing bodywork that resides below the motorcycle. It is designed to contain the liquid contents of the engine in the event of loss of containment ,whether oil or coolant, to minimize danger to the rider and other racers. SMRI do not require a belly pan, but we strongly recommend one if it's convenient to you.
Blipping is part of the downshifting behavior of many riders to minimize chassis upset during downshifts. When well executed the blip matches engine rpm to the needs of the transmission in a lower gear so that when the clutch is reengaged there isn't sudden engine braking that might break traction in the rear wheel or otherwise upset the chassis. It is generally accomplished with the thumb and outer finger(s) of the right hand while also braking with the inner fingers. The clutch is pulled in to downshift, and while the left foot is shifting to the lower gear the throttle is applied slightly and quickly, or blipped, then the clutch is released smoothly and the process is complete. Ask an experienced racer if you're confused about this process......or buy a slipper clutch!
Bottoming is not a sexual behavior in this context....perv. :) Bottoming is a way to describe the undesirable phenomenon of suspension exhausting its travel under braking or over a bump. Bottoming generally causes loss of traction in the effected wheel and can be very uncomfortable to the rider if the suspension bottoms unexpectedly. This behavior is similar to packing, which we'll cover a bit lower in this document, but it more abrupt and easier to correct!
A brake marker is a point at which you apply the brakes, and it is different for many riders and will probably even change for you as you gain confidence and experience. As you learn to ride at a faster pace you'll want to exercise good riding practices, and that means riding analytically rather than by "seat of the pants" feel and you own personal terror threshold. You'll want to set a braking point, you'll want to know where you'll initiate your turn, know where you'll apex the turn, know when you'll apply throttle, and know where to go as you exit a turn to maximize your performance and minimize the danger to you and other riders. This type of riding is generally smooth and predictable, and that's almost always desirable on track.
Bust stop is a term used by many racers to describe a really slow hairpin turn. At Sandia Motorsports Park there is one such turn in the Standard Configuration and two in the Alternate Configuration.
A catch can is simply a vessel to catch fluids we don't want to spill on our tires or the racetrack. It can be a soda can, a plastic bottle, or an elaborate device of your own construction. Generally the crankcase breather, carburetor overflow tubes, and fuel tank vents are routed to a catch can. (Airbox drains would go here, too, except you're supposed to plug those!)
Chatter is generally described as a front end behavior of motorcycles where the front end compresses slightly then rebounds slightly in rapid succession so that the motorcycle feels like it's hammering the ground while simultaneously sliding across the pavement. This is generally a failure of damping and is often the threshold of packing.
A chest protector is similar to a back protector, but it protects your chest......duh! After the adoption of back protectors as standard racing equipment minimizing the possibility of major back trauma, and with helmets, gloves, boots, padding, and leathers already being standard equipment, studies showed that chest trauma became the leading cause of serious injury or death among top level motorcycle racers. Several manufacturers make top shelf chest protector/back protector systems.
A chock, in motorcycling terms, is more than a wedge you throw under a wheel to keep a tire from turning. It's most often a bracket designed to hold one wheel of a motorcycle, most often the front wheel, to assist in securing it to a trailer, truck bed, or other transport.
A lap is a complete circuit of the racetrack, obviously. However, many riders feel their laps are adversely effected by other riders hindering them at critical points on the track. Therefore, the best possible lap where a racer can set the best possible time, is a lap unencumbered by traffic. Such a lap is called a clean lap!
Cold pressure refers to the pressure in your tires before you ride the motorcycle or put it on tire warmers. You don't need a refrigerator, just a tire pressure gauge and a few seconds of your time.
Cold tearing is an undesirable behavior of tires where the rubber body of the tire literally rips through and into the reinforcing carcass beneath. It generally has a scalloped or arched appearance and often rubber can literally be lifter with your fingernail. The cause is overinflation, resulting in a smaller contact patch which heats only the local surface of the tire rather than the entire carcass. The hotter surface rubber is easy to pull away under acceleration, but the cooler rubber beneath can't pull away so it tears instead. This phenomenon is VERY DANGEROUS and if you suspect it's happening to you, you should consult your tire vendor before riding on the tire any further. Always check your tire pressure before riding and pay attention to recommended cold and hot tire pressures.
Compression, or compression damping, is one of two primary types of damping built into your suspension components, the other being rebound. Compression damping is the characteristic of your suspension that resists compression of the shock of fork toward the compressed end of its stroke. On forks compression damping is generally adjusted at the bottom of the fork leg (on inverted forks) and on shocks it can be just about anywhere depending on brand, so look for labels.
Contingency is pretty much an open offer of sponsorship based on performance. If you use the products of a vendor that offers contingency, and fill out the required forms and display the required decals, then all you have to do is win races, or often place on the podium, to claim a little cash or credit toward future products. At SMRI we have sponsorship from Bridgestone Tires, Vanson leathers, and are working on several other vendors to maximize racers' financial support.
Cool down lap
The cool down lap is experienced after you pass the checkered flag and effect your return to the pits.
Crash truck or just Crash
The crash truck is the vehicle we use to retrieve disabled or crashed motorcycles from the racetrack. It's not always a truck, but it's never the way you want to return to the pits. If you experience this fabulous ride back to the pits you are said to make the "ride of shame". Don't worry, though, we're all done it at least once.....most of us more than once.
Decreasing radius or Increasing radius
A decreasing radius turn or increasing radius turn is a turn that doesn't have a constant radius. A decreasing radius turn starts "loose" and tightens as you progress though, so it's easy to get in "too hot" and have to alter you line. An increasing radius turn is exactly the opposite.
Did Not Finish. It means you crashed, broke, or just pulled into the pits. As long as you completed at least one lap you'll score points for the race, but you'll be scored behind all those racers who pass the checkered flag, even if you've lapped them!
Did Not Start. It means you either failed to show up for a race you registered for, or crashed, broke, or just pulled into the pits during the warm up lap or forced a restart where the portion of the race you participated in is not scored. DNS means you score no points for that race.
A DOT tire is a tire that meets all Department of Transportation rules for tires (generally meaning they have sipes cut into them to channel away rain water) but it definitely doesn't mean they're street tires. DOT Race Tires (DOT Race Rubber) are generally made from the same rubber compounds as racing slicks, and have similar characteristics. These tires are generally produced to meet requirements of several classes to use DOT tires, like many "production classes".
The term "Endurance Race" is generally applied to any race based on racing for some period of time rather than some number of laps. A lap based race is generally designated a Sprint Race.
See Brake Marker above. An exit marker is generally a feature farther down the track or often off the track or on the horizon that you can use to help you exit the turn on the "correct" line for you.
An EZ Up is technically a brand name for a type of portable shelter. But just like Xerox is used to describe all copiers, EZ Up is often used to describe all portable shelter canopies. If you want to race, you'll probably want an EZ Up, or a friend with an EZ Up.....and a few chairs, and a cooler, and a supply of earplugs.
Gearing is a term used to describe the final drive reduction on motorcycles, though on chain driven models there aren't any gears involved, but rather a pair of sprockets. The reduction ratio of the final drive is derived by dividing the number of teeth on the driven sprocket by the number of teeth on the driving sprocket. For example, if you have 45 teeth on the rear sprocket and 15 teeth on the transmission output shaft, then by dividing 45 by 15 you'll discover you have a 3:1 reduction ratio. Ratios with a larger number are considered "shorter" while those with a smaller number are considered "taller". Shorter gearing accelerates more strongly but theoretical top speed is reduced. Taller gearing accelerates less strongly but theoretical top speed is increased.
Goon (like Sean Butterman)
A goon is a rider who is oblivious to all those around them an endangers them, often intentionally. Don't be a GOON!
GP shift is a term used to described a shifting pattern that is reversed from "standard shift". In GP shifting the racer pulls the shift lever upward to engage first gear when beginning in neutral, then pushes the lever downward to shift to sequentially higher gears.
Greasy is a term used to describe tires that have lost their ability to properly grip the track. They're not literally greasy, and often appear normal, but simply don't grip as well as newer tires. This is often the result of wear or overheating.
The "grid" is both the form used to describe where racers will start a race and the place near the starting line where the racers are staged to receive the start signal. Grids forms are posted prior to the commencement of racing. The layout of the physical starting grid will be covered in your race license class, or ask another racer if you're simply unfamiliar with SMRI's normal grinding procedures.
Grip or Bite
Grip or bite describes a tire's willingness to adhere to pavement.
Grooved slick or Cut slick
A cut slick is generally a slick racing tire with grooves cut into it by hand or using a grooving tool. They're mostly used for conditions bordering between wet and dry, but not entirely either.
Heat race is a term used to describe a race run in multiple starts. The results of multiple heats are combined to determine an event winner.
A high side accident is one where typically the rear breaks traction and slides, then catches suddenly, pitching the racer over the "high side" of the bike into the air. This type of accident is both spectacular and painful.
Hot pressure refers to the pressure in your tires after you ride the motorcycle or put it on tire warmers.
Intermediate tires are tires intended to be used in conditions bordering between wet and dry. See cut slicks, above.
A jump start is simply an event where one or more racers starts prematurely. At SMRI a jump start is penalized by docking the racer a lap, putting him or her one lap behind the other racers to start the race.
Lapped is a term used to describe racers who have been passed by the race leader(s), putting them behind one or more laps.
Late apex or Early apex
Late or early apex is a term used to describe a line where the rider apexes a turn after or before the middle of a turn. It is a technique used to tailor a turn to those around it.
A helmet, silly.
A low side is a crash were both tires typically slide out and the racer falls to the asphalt via the shortest route possible. If you have to get off while the bike is moving, this is the preferred method.
The racing line is the part of the track where most racers ride because it's the quickest way around the track. Once off the line one will often encounter shed rubber and other debris that reduces traction. This debris is often called "marbles".
Marshal (likely Corner Marshal, but could be Pit Marshal or Pit-Out Marshal)
An official who is, in one way or another, responsible for rider safety. Pay attention to Marshals. It's a fiduciary responsibility of every racer!
Nobody is talking about you......it's a flag that demands you return to the pits because something not threatening is wrong. Maybe something is loose or dangling from your bike. Maybe a Marshal saw an imminent deficiency in your gear. Don't panic, just return to the pits and visit the Pit-Out Marshal to see what's wrong.
A neck protector is a device to limit the range of motion of the racer's head and neck in a crash in order to reduce neck damage.
An "off" is a crash. A "wad". A "yard sale". You know.....an accident.
Off camber is a term used to describe a turn where the track slopes away from the inside toward the outside. Its' the opposite of a "banked" turn. Apparent lean angle is the same as for a flat track, but real lean angle is exaggerated and available traction is often reduced.
On camber is a term use to describe a turn where the track slopes from the outside toward the inside. It's a "banked" turn. Apparent lean angle is the same as for a flat track, but real lean angle is reduced and available traction is increased.
Packing or Packed
Packing is generally used to describe a front end behavior where the front end compresses, then tries to rebound but is too slow, then compresses further and tries to rebound again, etc. Eventually the fork can bottom, or with very high frequency inputs simply can't travel quickly enough to accommodate the pavement irregularities resulting in complete loss of traction.
A term used to describe suspension behavior where inputs are under damped, so the bike moves up an down excessively.
Pole or Pole Position
Pole position is the "best" starting position of the starting grid.
A protest is a complaint lodged with the governing body, at our club SMRI, disputing scoring, race procedures, or the behavior of a racer. If you believe you were mistreated or that one of your competitors you have a right to lodge a formal protest.
Qualifying is a session where riders try to put in the best possible lap to qualify for their grid positions. The fastest rider starts from pole position, etc. At SMRI the only race that has a qualifying session is Unlimited Grand Prix.
A quick shifter is an electromechanical device that allows the racer to upshift (shift up a gear) without using the clutch.
Race Gas vs. Pump Gas
Both are petroleum derivatives, but race gas is typically more resistant to knocking or pinging because it has a higher octane rating and race gas is often more calorific resulting in more power upon combustion. Before buying race gas make sure its allowed by the rules in your class.
Raise or lower the front or rear
It sounds simple, but raising and lower either end of the bike radically changes its handling behavior. Raising the rear or lowering the front typically makes a bike turn-in better on approach to turns, but can reduce high speed stability. Raising the front or lowering the rear has the opposite effect.
Rebound, or rebound damping, is one of two primary types of damping built into your suspension components, the other being compression. Rebound damping is the characteristic of your suspension that resists extension of the shock of fork toward the extended end of its stroke. On forks rebound damping is generally adjusted at the top of the fork leg and on shocks it can be just about anywhere depending on brand, so look for labels.
Rev limiter (often Hard rev limiter or Soft rev limiter)
A rev limiter is an electronic device whose purpose is to make sure the rotational speed of the engine's crankshaft is not raised high enough to damage the engine. In modern engines it is often a two-stage device. First a soft limited is reached which cuts power, then a hard limit is reached where ignition spark is stopped altogether to eliminate the possibility of catastrophic damage.
If this term is applied to you, you're in the way of other racers and they're treating you as an almost fixed part of the track. Go faster, or.....there is no or. Just go faster. :)
Safety wire is used to insure that critical fasteners do not disengage during operation. Most racing organizations demand at least brake and oil containment fasteners be safety wired. Others demand more. Check the rules at every club where you race to make sure you meet the minimum requirements. Fasteners must generally be drilled through for engagement of fine stainless steel safety wire, though you can purchase fasteners that are predrilled for this purpose.
Sag is the amount your suspension settles from fully extended with you on the bike in a static position. Typically it should be measured with you and all your gear on board in order to get an accurate measurement. There are several methods for checking sag and it is very important to set it correctly and to start with springs properly suited to your weight.
A slick is the most common type of tire used in motorcycle roadracing. It is a tire designed specifically for roadracing. It is much "stickier" than commonly available motorcycles tires and has no sipes to pump away water. Consult your tire distributor for more information on slicks and how to make the best use of them.
A slipper clutch is a clutch that includes a device to limit the amount of torque transmitted from the rear wheel into the engine. When downshifts occur one must typically blip the throttle to match revs to the new, lower gear. However, a slipper clutch limits the back-torque and allows a more abrupt downshift.
A sprint race is a race based on a lap count as opposed to an endurance race, which is based on racing for some period of time.
A street tire is the commonly available type of tire available at most motorcycle dealers and shops. It is DOT certified, but is not made using the sticky rubber used in DOT race tires or slicks.
When you hear a racer say he or she "stuffed' an opponent, it generally means a pass was made in a braking zone, typically on the inside of a turn, forcing the passed rider to deviate from their intended line.
A tank slapper is a phenomenon where the front end oscillates uncontrollable side to side. If the oscillation escalates it can cause a crash, or if it deescalates it simply causes dirty underwear and/or broken wrists. See Dave Dikitolia for details.
A set of tire warmers is intended to raise the carcass temperature of race tires to near operational temperature before racing. This shortens or eliminates warm-up time on track and allows the racer to go immediately to race pace. They also eliminate heat cycling which is a lesser concern, but still important with some tires.
Traction control is an electronic rider aid that senses several factors to determine when the motorcycle is approaching the limits of controllability. When it senses those limits are nearing it can modulate ignition spark timing (on some models), fuel (on some models) or both to minimize or completely eliminate loss of traction due to engine power. This feature cannot eliminate stupidity, but it can help with lack of experience!
As discussed under "brake marker" above, a turn-in marker is generally an on track feature you use to queue you to initiate your turn.
Wallowing is similar to pogo behavior, except that it often includes a side to side or yaw element sue to poor suspension set up and/or poor tire inflation habits.
Warm up lap
The warm up lap, sighting lap, or out lap, is taken when you get onto the racetrack for a race. Generally the Starter will wave you past the starting grid to take a warm up lap, allowing you to get a little heat into you tires before beginning your race.
A wet tire or wet weather tire is a tire designed to be used exclusively in rainy weather. It is made from soft racing compound rubber that behaves well at lower temperatures and has extensive sipes to pump away water. The fail rapidly in dry weather. You'll never need a set of wet weather tires at SMRI, as we don't race in the rain. The Sandia Motorsports Park surface is quite treacherous when wet so we suspend events when the rain falls in earnest.