Bristol Motor Speedway
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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
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Asphalt
a scatter plot showing no correlation between starting and finishing positions in the Daytona 500 from 2012-2014
Graphs and Charts
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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. […]

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Engines

Eliminating Restrictor Plates?

Every return to a restrictor plate track brings suggestions about how we might eliminate the restrictor plate. Restrictor plates serve the very necessary function of limiting car speeds at Daytona and Talladega so that the cars stay on the ground. The negative is that they remove throttle response. One suggestion from some readers that I hadn’t heard of before suggested that NASCAR could just change the rear-end gearing parameters to shift the power curve and reduce horsepower that way. Will that work? […]