Aerodynamics

Drafting: Regular and Bump

I looked through the blog and realized that I haven’t really blogged about drafting. I’ve blogged about all the rules NASCAR’s enacted in the last couple of years to try to control drafting, but not drafting itself. So, with Talladega coming up, here goes Daniel Bernoulli: A Founding Father of Racing Sure, NASCAR […]

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Daytona, Catchfences and Flying Cars

Track barriers originally were erected to keep cars separated from spectators. In addition to concrete walls to prevent the cars from driving off track, debris-spewing accidents necessitated fencing to contain airborne objects.

Catchfences should have the same properties as walls, but they can’t block the view. Chain link fence is a good compromise: It’s cheap, plentiful, easy to put up and surprisingly strong given its high visibility.

Chain-link fabric is an elastic metal mesh. It can give in two ways: gentle forces cause the mesh to deform. The diamonds stretch out of shape, but when the force is removed, the fabric springs back to its original shape. The fence can also deform by stretching the wires that make up the mesh. A large-enough force will break the wire entirely.

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The Flap over Roof Flaps

Why Roof Flaps? Roof flaps (the invention of which I detail in my book The Physics of NASCAR) help keep cars on the ground.  This is necessary because of Bernoulli’s law, which says basically that: Faster-moving air exerts less pressure. Slower-moving air exerts more pressure. A wing develops lift because the […]

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Keeping Racecars on the Racetrack

Ryan Newman escaped NASCAR sanctions for his comments immediately after being discharged from the infield care center at Talladega.

“They can build safer racecars, they can build safer walls, but they can’t get their heads out of their asses far enough to keep them on the race track and that’s pretty disappointing, and I wanted to make sure I get that point across,” he said. “You all can figure out who ‘they’ is.”

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A Quick Post on Why Cars Go Airborne

A quick post for my friend, @TheOrangeCone that I’ll expand on later (I have theater tickets tonight!)

@TheOrangeCone asked why Kurt Busch went airborne in the Talladega crash. The answer is the same for all the cars that end up in the air: when a car rotates (so that its side or its back is leading instead of its front), it looks an awful lot like an airplane wing — a shape that is optimized to generate lift.

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