In these pieces, we will define a key term in the motorsports world and provide context as to how that term fits in here at the World Center of Racing. If there’s some racing jargon that you’d like us to break down, please send us your suggestions on Facebook or Twitter.

Terminology: Chicane


Definition:

A safety feature built into a circuit usually consisting of two consecutive sharp bends in opposite directions to slow cars down when approaching a section of the track. Usually it manifests in an S-shape curve or a bus stop in a roadway. A chicane has a distinct braking zone prior to the entry leg, followed by a steady throttle section leading up to the exit leg.


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Significance:

In auto racing, chicanes are often used as devices to reduce speeds after long straightaways, making them one of the best spots for overtaking in modern racing. A driver cannot get back on the throttle until the exit apex is reached, making the chicane a challenging turn on any race track.


History at DIS:

In 1973, a sharp chicane was added at the end of the backstretch, approaching the high banks turn three. In 1984 and 1985, the chicane on the backstretch was modified with a new entry leg was constructed approximately 400 feet earlier, resulting in a longer, three-legged, "bus stop" shape. This would result in a significant increase in passing inside the longer chicane. In 2003, the chicane was modified once again. The middle leg was repaved and widened, and now cars would enter through the first leg, and exit out of the second leg, allowing cars a cleaner entry into high banks turn three.