A Glossary of Terms to Help Navigate The Baja 500

May 17, 2014
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New to Baja 500? To offroad racing? Don’t have a clue what the hell people are talking about? This should help…

Air box: Mostly used on Pro Stock Motorcycles, it settles “negative air” around carburetors the way a hood scoop does on a car.

Air foil: A stabilizer, used to create downforce, increasing stability and tire-to-track adherence at high speeds.

Bang the blower: An explosion inside the supercharger caused by a blocked or broken intake valve normally closed during the combustion sequence.


Breakout: When a contestant running much quicker than their qualifying run, they lose. If both drivers break out, the one who runs closest to his or her originals time is the winner.

Burned Piston: When a cylinder runs too much air in the air-to-fuel mixture, excessive heat melts the piston.

Burnout: Spinning the rear tires in water to heat and clean them prior to a run for better traction.

Christmas Tree: A/K/A ‘the Tree’ – is an electronic starting device between the lanes on the starting line, displaying a calibrated countdown for each driver.


Clipping point: Critical junctures in a course. Drivers who are early, late, or wide will receive a lower score.

Clutch Can: The bell-shaped housing for the clutch and flywheel.

Clutch Lockup: The progression of clutch-disc engagement controlled by an air-timer management system.

Dial under: Handicap categories where drivers in Super Stock and Stock categories select an elapsed time they think their cars will run based on previous performance. The breakout rule is in effect.


Diaper: An absorbent Kevlar blanket that surrounds the oil pan in case of an engine explosion.

Drifting: Maintaining control of a vehicle while using various sliding techniques to negotiate turns on a pre-determined course. Drivers qualify by achieving high entry speeds and high entry angles while maintaining a proper racing line

Dropped cylinder: When too much fuel in the air/fuel mixture) prevents the spark plug(s) from firing.

Elapsed time (E.T.): The time it takes a vehicle to travel from the starting line to the finish line.

Eliminations: After qualification, vehicles race two at a time, resulting in one winner from each pair. Winners continue in tournament-style competition until one remains.

Foul start: Red light indicator on the Christmas Tree if car leaves the starting line before the green light, or starting signal.


Full Tree: A tricky handicap starting system used to equalize competition. Three amber bulbs on the Christmas Tree flash consecutively five-tenths of a second apart, followed five-tenths later by the green starting light

Header(s): A fine-tuned exhaust engine system routing, replacing conventional exhaust manifolds.

Hemi: A ‘Hemi’ engine has a hemispherical-shaped cylinder-head combustion chamber, like a ball cut in half.

Holeshot: Quicker driver reaction to the Christmas Tree to win a race against an opponent with a quicker E.T.

Hydraulic: An explosive malfunction caused when the cylinder fills up with too much fuel.


Index: The expected performance ratings in class for vehicles in a class allowing cars in the same category to race competitively.

Interval timers: Part of a secondary timing system that records elapsed times, primarily for the racers’ benefit, at 60, 330, 660, and 1,000 feet.

Methanol: Pure methyl alcohol produced by synthesis for Alcohol Dragsters and Top Alcohol Funny Cars.

Nitromethane: Fuel for drag racing produced by a chemical reaction between nitric acid and propane.

Pro Tree: When all three large amber lights on the Christmas Tree flash simultaneously, followed four-tenths of a second later by the green starting light.

Reaction time: The time it takes a driver to react to the green starting light on the Christmas Tree, measured in thousandths of a second.


Sixty-foot time: The time it takes a vehicle to cover the first 60 feet of the racetrack. It determines how quick the rest of the run will be.

Slider clutch: A multi-disc clutch designed to slip until a predetermined rpm is reached; decreases shock load to the drive wheels.

Speed trap: The final 66 feet to the finish line where speed is recorded.

Stage: To prep the front wheels on the starting line so that yellow lights glow so that the Christmas Tree countdown can begin.

Supercharger: a crank-driven air/fuel-mixture compressor, It increases atmospheric pressure in the engine to increase horsepower.

Tandem: Side-by-side drifting competition, usually reserved for the Top 16 and higher rounds.

Turbocharger: An exhaust-driven intake air compressor.

Wedge: A wedge-shaped engine with a combustion chamber.

Weight transfer: Vehicles are set up to provide a desired weight transfer to the rear wheels to get traction. Upon acceleration, the front wheels lift and weight shifts to the rear wheels, making them less likely to spin.

Wheelie bar(s): Used to prevent excessive front-wheel lift.

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