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Acceleration

Turning at Bristol: A Weighty Matter

A lot of drivers cite Bristol as one of their favorite tracks. It’s a great exhibit for the argument that racing is more than just pure speed. High banks (which we know mean speed!) and a short track, which means tight racing. But a lot of drivers will tell you that Bristol is one of the most exhausting, physically demanding tracks on the circuit. Add to that the inherent stress of short-track racing, where 43 cars are operating in a limited (half-mile) track. […]

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Aerodynamics

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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Centripetal Force

Racing without Friction

Daytona is an enormous, sweeping track. Two-and-a-half miles, 31-degree banking and corner radii of a thousand feet. The infield by itself is 180 acres. If you’ve ever been there (or Talladega), it really does take your breath […]

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Aerodynamic Forces

How Fast Would NASCAR Cars Go at Daytona without Restrictor Plates?

Doug Yates was guest on Dave Moody’s SiriusXM Speedway last week. He brought up a conversion you hear a lot in the week before Daytona and Talladega. Every 25 horsepower in the engine translates to about a 1 second decrease in lap times. Dave did the math: Removing the plates would increase the engine by 450 horsepower. Four hundred and fifty more horsepower equates to 18 seconds off the lap time, assuming all other things equal. That last part was a very important qualification. It will come back to haunt us in a moment. […]

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Aerodynamic Forces

Why Safety Takes Time

I suppose it’s really our own fault because of the way we teach science.

We give you labs constructed to get the right answer on the first try. We have you measure things you already know the value of. We tell you that things were invented by a single person on a specific date. […]

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Aerodynamic Forces

Brief Thoughts on the Nationwide Accident at Daytona

We’ve been painting the house. I was straining to hear EPSN’s commentary over the swoosh-swish of the paint roller as the race came to a close – but it was all too easy to hear the change the tone of Allen Bestwick’s voice. We heard it recently from Marty Reid in Vegas. I remember the first-hand feeling sitting about 50 yards from Michael McDowell’s wreck during qualifying at Texas. A track full of race fans – all quiet – is one of the worst sounds in all of sports. […]