About Us

As you can tell, we're in the middle of big 'ole re-do of the Building Speed site. Bear with us as we switch hosts to one that is hopefully more reliable than the last... If you'd like to see the blogs, there's a mirror at https://medium.com/building-speed/

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How is a NASCAR Driver at Bristol like an Astronaut?

The Unique Challenges of Bristol Many drivers will tell you that, despite not having the highest speeds or a unique shape, or a long race time, Bristol is one of the most exhausting stops on the schedule. Laps take about 15 seconds, with about 60% of each lap being turns. […]

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How Tracks Take and Lose Rubber

The two words we heard most frequently last week in Pocono (after “still raining”) were “green racetrack”. Rain doesn’t just delay racing. When the race is finally run after a rain delay, it’s run on a different racetrack. To get the details of how a racetrack changes from “rubbered up” […]

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Driving Concussed

Driving Concussed This week brings the return of Jeff Gordon to the track, but under conditions I’m sure all of us wish were otherwise. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is out again (and will be next week) with “concussion-like” symptoms. Concussion, like many medical problems, is a chronic injury — meaning that it can […]

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When is a Tire Test Not a Tire Test?

Ch…Ch… Ch… Ch….Changes! If you were going to pick an icon for the upcoming race at Kentucky, it would be a giant question mark. It’s almost like coming to a brand new track. This is the first race of the year in Kentucky, so we’re dealing with the new 2016 […]

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NASCAR’s Goldilocks Problem: How much Downforce is “Just Right”?

The Problem The current racecar handles badly when its aerodynamics are disturbed by another car. This makes it very difficult to pass. The advantage of having clean air become insurmountable, which makes for less exciting racing. Why? A word once relegated to engineers, but now you hear everywhere :downforce There […]

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Can You Really “Run Better than you Finish”?

“He ran better than he finished” is one of those things you hear and don’t think too much about. Unless, of course, you’re me. I wondered if it was really possible to tell mathematically (or graphically) whether that was true. That raises the question, of course, of how you characterize […]

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Can Science Shorten (or Eliminate) Rain Delays?

While we were waiting for the track to dry at Texas last Saturday, I tweeted a link to my post on why track drying takes so long and how high humidity extends drying time — even with track dryers as powerful as the Air Titan. The short version is that drying a […]

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Conservation of Energy in a Crash

Last week on SiriusXM Speedway, we talked about how the kinetic energy of a race car (at 190 mph) is approximately equal to the caloric energy contained in two dark chocolate Easter bunny rabbits. The serious fact is that when a car comes to a stop, all of the kinetic […]

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Comparing the Kinetic Energy of a NASCAR Race Car to… Candy?

One of the challenges in explaining things is figuring out how to put something very unfamiliar in more familiar terms. You may not know what a Joule per second is, but you know what a Watt is — and a Watt is just another name for a Joule per second. It’s sort […]

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Tire Management

NASCAR is very clear about what teams can and can not do to the tires. Teams may not use any chemical or physical means of altering the tires, which means no siping (cutting grooves into the tires), no chemical softening, not even heat blankets to pre-warm the tires are allowed. Basically, you can’t do anything to the tires. This means that when a tire blows out, it’s the tire’s fault. Right?