Composite Race Car Bodies

You Never Forget Your First One My first car was a greenish-brown 1969 Buick LeSabre with a 123-inch wheel base and a 230-horsepower two-barrel V-8. That puppy weighed about 4200 lbs and taught me everything I know about Bondo and car repair. My parents got me that car because it…

Will Toyota’s New Nose Change the Cup Series Balance?

The unveilingĀ last Monday of Toyota’s new redesigned race car for 2017 got a little lost between Junior’s wedding and Carl Edwards’ surprise ‘stepping back’ from NASCAR. But every time a manufacturer redesigns and engine or a body, it opens up a giant task for NASCAR. The Level Playing Field A…

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.

Does Less Downforce Mean More Lift?

Last Tuesday, NASCAR announced aerodynamic modifications to be implemented forĀ the Kentucky Speedway Sprint Cup race on July 11th. While the changes are (right now) only for that race, there’s every expectation that if they help reduce the dreaded ‘aero push’ problem, they may be extended (or modified) for other 1.5…

Skirting the Issue

Flared side skirts became an issue when social media started noticing them somewhere around Kansas. The fact that the most obvious example of this was on the 2 car and Brad Keselowski is rapidly taking over from Kyle Busch as most-love-to-hate driver in NASCAR may have brought the issue to the fore faster.

Dive! Dive! Dive Planes… on Stock Cars?

A persistent motorsports issue (and not only with stock cars) is the aerodynamic passing problem. You can’t pass without grip. Grip is a direct result of downforce. Downforce comes from two places: the weight of the car (mechanical grip) and the billions and billions of air molecules hitting the car (a.k.a aerogrip).

Firewalls and Aerodynamics

My friend at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, Dave Kallman (whose online column should be a regular read for race fans) asked about the confiscated firewalls from the Number 11 car at Indy. That reminded me of the first NASCAR race I was supposed to attend as research for my book The Physics of NASCAR. That was California in 2007. I was to follow around the number 19 car, at that time driven by Elliott Sadler and crew chiefed by Josh Browne.

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