Fire: A Motorsports Safety Challenge

While NASCAR has made significant advances in protecting drivers from crashes, protecting them from fire is a much different — and much more scientifically challenging — problem. I was reminded of that by how Ryan Blaney’s night ended at the Coca Cola 600. Fire Safety and Racecars: A Brief History…

Data Sharing: Fact and Fiction

New for 2018: Data Sharing NASCAR announced (in a somewhat roundabout way) they would share the data collected by each car during races, qualifying and practice with all teams in the 2018 season. This produced a mixed reaction in the garage. Newer drivers and those driving for smaller teams seemed to…

Did EFI Make NASCAR Engines More Reliable?

In 2012, NASCAR moved from carburetors to Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI). This made people like me happy because my friends who denigrated NASCAR as hopelessly outdated and behind the times have one less argument to use against me. There were many purposes for the switch to EFI: one was precisely as I note above: to be…

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.

Engine Rules Changes for 2015

There’s a lot of talk about all the rules changes for 2015. The limiting of the horsepower has been a hot topic of discussion, with people suggesting that NASCAR is basically mandating spec engines.  Here’s a couple of things to think about in terms of engines as we get closer to…

Exotic Materials in NASCAR Engines?

I was at a panel discussion some years ago at a motorsports engineering meeting about materials allowed on the car by different racing series. They had the tech people for IMSA, F1, Indy and NASCAR up there answering questions from the audience. NASCAR gets a lot of ribbing because compared to,…

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