Aerodynamics

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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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From the Lab Notebook: Las Vegas and the Mysteriously Missing Oil Tank Cover

As we head for Las Vegas this weekend, I thought I’d repost on of my most popular posts from stockcarscience.com on 3/5/2008 since the redirects for the old stockcarscience.com site don’t work reliably. The post is about Carl Edwards’ 2008 win at Las Vegas when the team was subsequently fined for having their oil tank cover lid askew at the end of the race. I have edited the post extensively, adding some new information and better graphics.

How Many “Cookie Cutter Tracks” are There?

One of those phrases you tend to pick up as a NASCAR fan without thinking is “cookie cutter track”. That’s the accusation commonly directed at the one-and-a-half mile tracks (like Texas Motor Speedway, which we’re visiting this week). The complaint is that these tracks are so identical that it’s almost not worth bothering to watch. But are they really identical?

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