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?
Is an iPod more dangerous for your ears than a NASCAR race car?
Anyone who’s ever been to the track knows that racetracks are loud. Quite frankly, it’s one of the things many people (including me) like about actually being at the track as opposed to watching on television. But could that noise be doing your hearing permanent damage? Is it any worse than any of the other sounds we encounter on a daily basis?
Let’s go to the data…
Does Grass Pose a Danger to Racecar Drivers?
Now that most tracks have put SAFER barriers on any possible surface, it might seem like racetrack safety is a done deal. That’s not what we’ve heard this week at Daytona, though. Some of the drivers have some strong opinions about grass. “Grass belongs on golf courses. We need asphalt around here […]
NASCAR and Electric Cars: A Response to Bill Nye
Bill Nye is getting a lot of press lately by suggesting NASCAR ought to be racing electric cars. I was rather disappointed with the reaction from NASCAR fans, as many dismissed the suggestion offhand, or offered ad hominem attacks on Nye. Firing off Twitter insults only reinforces the stereotype of NASCAR fans as […]
NASCAR and Energy Efficiency
It never fails. When I give a talk about The Science of Speed at a University science department (as opposed to a talk for the public), someone will ask “How can you advocate for NASCAR? They’re the biggest waste of gasoline.”
Or something similar.
I’m going to look at this in two ways. People often confuse how much energy is used with how efficiently energy is used. One way to cut back on energy usage is to use less energy, but it’s also possible to use less energy by using the energy more efficiently.
Are Smaller Drivers Better?
It’s always a strange feeling when you meet people you’ve seen on television or heard on the radio. You develop a picture of them in your mind and then you meet them and they’re not at all like you expected. Sometimes you expect them to be jerks and they surprise you and are absolutely lovely people. When I met Jeff Gordon the first time, the surprise was that he’s not much taller than I am.
NASCAR Drivers’ Risky Behavior and the Peltzman Effect
The introduction of automotive safety innovations is usually accompanied by concern about the side-effects of those innovations. For example, when seat belts were introduced, people worried that the belts would keep them from getting out of a car quickly enough if they needed to. When HANS devices first became available, […]
Analyzing Chase Tracks
Every year about this time, someone grumbles that The Chase needs a road course. The frequently-cited rationale is that the regular NASCAR season has two, so a champion should prove he or she can perform on the same racetracks that make up the regular season. This seemed like one of […]
How Can Changing Horsepower for Everyone Make Racing More Competitive?
I get this question a lot: If NASCAR decreases horsepower for everyone, how does that make it easier to pass? You’re basically taking everyone down by the same amount, right? To explain this, we have to touch on a couple concepts. Moody asked me this a couple weeks ago and I […]
The Digital Dashboard
Those of you of a certain age may remember these odd looking flat black vinyl things called ‘records’. Records are analog devices. A groove is cut into the vinyl. A stylus rides along the groove and translates the wiggles in the groove into an electrical signal, which is then transmitted to a speaker, which turns it into a vibration (which, when pleasant, we call “music”.)