Race Weekend Central

Holding a Pretty Wheel: NASCAR-ese, a NASCAR to English Dictionary

Sometimes NASCAR is a little like visiting a foreign country. Sure, you took the language in high school and you understand enough to get by, but you feel like there’s an awful lot being said that you don’t understand. The little dictionary helps, but you still feel a little out of the loop. You really wish you had a translator.

A lot of times, it seems like you might need a translator to understand NASCAR-ese in the Brain France Era. So many words get thrown around and just when you think you understand, NASCAR throws a curveball and changes the game. I’ve put together a little cheat sheet to help clear up any misunderstandings that fans might have with the language. Here are a few words from NASCAR-ese and, to the best I can figure, what they really mean in the local dialect.


Translation: “Well crap. We don’t really want to punish this driver because what he did wrong was A: actually pretty good for the old TV ratings and maybe fans will tune in to see what happens, or B: excusable because we like him and it might help him dethrone Five-Time in the long run. Which would go directly back to A. On the other hand, we sort of backed ourselves into a corner here because we do have rules, so we have to at least look like we’re doing something. As long as we don’t have to actually enforce this deal, we all go home happy.”

No Fighting

Translation: “What we actually meant by the no fighting rule was no fighting where anyone can see you. If you slug a guy in the hauler, that’s different than slugging him in the garage, because nobody else saw it. So we won’t do anything if you go at it in the truck. If you go at it in public, well, we do have an actual written rule about fighting, so we’re going to have to punish you. So we’re going to put you on probation. That will take care of it.”

Actions Detrimental to Stock Car Racing

Translation: “Look, son, people are pretty ticked at what you did. Whether or not you violated an actual rule is irrelevant because we have this little catch-all. If you did break one, well we can make it sound even more impressive if we add this on to the list. Basically, it means if we don’t like something you do, well, let’s just say donations to the NASCAR Foundation are down this year and you’re going to help make up the difference.”

Nationwide Series

Translation: “Driver development? That sounds OK. But you know what would be really cool? A division that races at the same tracks as the Cup Series so the Cup drivers can race twice every week! Think of the revenue! Think of the t-shirt sales! The fans wouldn’t have to go to all that trouble to learn another set of drivers’ names, that’s way too hard for them to keep straight! It would be great! The fans? We’ll fool them by having a different champion so they’ll think we actually want the series regulars there. No problem. Now back to those t-shirt sales.”

Camping World Truck Series

Translation: “The best racing in NASCAR’s touring series. Wait, that can’t be right! We’ll underexpose them and only show the races on Speed so people don’t notice how great they are. They still think rubbing is racing. How dumb is that? That’s SO 1990! Hang on. Can we use truck stats to pad a Cup drivers’ win total and make him look all impressive? Cool!”

The Nationwide Series will race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2012

Translation: “Well, crap. The Cup race just isn’t drawing like it used to. Maybe if we gimmick up the weekend with a bunch of other races we can sell the weekend as a “package” that actually looks like a good deal and draw a few more people. Besides, it just doesn’t look right when we can’t fill seats at the most prestigious track in auto racing with our premier series when those second-series guys sell out that rinky-dink little short track down the road. So we’re going to kill two birds with one stone. Wait, what? Racing? What the hell does racing have to do with any of this?”

See also
With Lucas Oil Raceway Gone in 2012, Replacing Montreal of Key Importance


Translation: “Something that gets on the track that might damage a car if we don’t clean it up. Visible? You mean should we be able to see it? Only if the race lead is less than two seconds. Any more than that and we don’t take any chances. Invisible debris kills.”

Green-White-Checkered Finish

Translation: “We’ll make three attempts at this so that the fans can see the finish they paid for. Unless of course, we like the guy who’s winning. Then we’ll conveniently lose the yellow flag even if there’s a big wreck.

The Official ____ of NASCAR

Translation: “A race team didn’t really need that sponsorship money anyway.”


Translation: “I wonder if we can get them to be the new Official ____ of NASCAR?”

The Chase Wildcard Spots

Translation: “What are we going to do if Dale Junior wins a race this year and still doesn’t make the Chase? Wait, I have an idea…”

Start and Park

Translation: “Oh, you mean the guys who pay us their entry fees and ensure us a full field so we don’t have to pay the network. Do something about them? What do you mean? Why would we want to do that?”

Short Track

Translation: “Isn’t that some kind of dinosaur? They’re extinct, right? No? Maybe we should help them along.”


Translation: “The oldest track longer than a mile? Yeah, that’s nice. Tradition and all. Big deal. The bar scene stinks. I hear the night life in Atlanta is outstanding. Racing? What the hell does racing have to do with any of this?”


Translation: “That place in North Carolina we ditched because too many Southern tracks made us look like a redneck sport. But hey, it’s all good. We have Fontana instead! Racing? What the hell does racing have to do with any of this?”


Translation: “Cash cow. Wait, is it politically correct to call her a cow?”

About the author

Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

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