Auto Club Speedway of California
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
The Kinetic Energy of Austin Dillon
Someone asked in the comments how much kinetic energy Austin Dillon had when he hit the catchfence at Daytona. I don’t know exactly how fast he was going (probably was somewhere around 180 to 200 mph), so I figured I’d just make a graph and include a couple reference points in terms […]
2015 Rules and Lug Nuts
Forty-three days till the Daytona 500. The shops are buzzing with activity as everyone adjusts to another new rules package. The engine folks are working overtime dealing with the changes there. The only thing that’s slowed down is planning for on-track independent testing, since that’s been eliminated this year. But more time in the wind tunnel, on the seven-post machine, at the computers.