Breakout: Used only in handicap racing, "breakout" refers to a race car running quicker than the driver has predicted. The driver's prediction is called the dial-in and is posted on the race car. The driver who breaks out loses the race unless his or her opponent has committed a more serious foul, such as a red-light or crossing the centerline of the drag strip.
Burnout: Spinning the rear tires in water to heat and clean them before a run for better traction. In most classes, a burnout precedes every run down the drag strip.
Christmas Tree: The noticeable electronic starting device between the lanes on the starting line. It displays a calibrated-light countdown for each driver.
Elapsed Time (e.t.): The time it takes a drag-race vehicle to travel from the starting line to the finish line.
Methanol: Pure methyl alcohol used as fuel in Top Alcohol Dragsters, Top Alcohol Funny Cars, and even some Jr. Dragsters.
Nitro-methane ("nitro"): Made specifically as a fuel for drag racing, it is the result of a chemical reaction between nitric acid and propane. Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars use nitro methane.
Nitrous Oxide ("nitrous," "N2O"): When injected into an engine under pressure, nitrous oxide gives the engine a sudden boost in power by introducing more oxygen into the fuel mixture. Nitrous oxide is not allowed in any NHRA category except Pro Mod (exhibition) and some E.T. bracket classes.
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. A perfect reaction time is .000.
Red Light: When a race car leaves the starting line too soon — before the green light, or "go" signal — it activates the red light on the Christmas Tree and the driver has automatically lost the race.