The Physics of NASCAR: How to Make Steel + Gas + Rubber = Speed

Overview

Every NASCAR fan – at one time or another – asks the same question: Why isn’t my favorite driver winning? This is your chance to discover how much more there is to NASCAR than “Go fast, turn left and don’t crash.” If you’ve ever wondered why racecars don’t have mufflers, how “bump drafting” works, or what in the world “Let’s go up a pound on the right rear and add half a round of wedge” means, The Physics of NASCAR is for you.

In this fast-paced investigation into the ...

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Overview

Every NASCAR fan – at one time or another – asks the same question: Why isn’t my favorite driver winning? This is your chance to discover how much more there is to NASCAR than “Go fast, turn left and don’t crash.” If you’ve ever wondered why racecars don’t have mufflers, how “bump drafting” works, or what in the world “Let’s go up a pound on the right rear and add half a round of wedge” means, The Physics of NASCAR is for you.

In this fast-paced investigation into the adrenaline-pumping world of NASCAR, a physicist with a passion uncovers what happens when the rubber hits the road and 800- horsepower vehicles compete at 190 miles per hour only inches from one another.

Diandra Leslie-Pelecky reveals how and why drivers trust the engineering and science their teams literally build around them not only to get them across the finish line in first place, but also to keep them alive. Professor Leslie-Pelecky is a physicist in love with the sport’s beauty and power and is uniquely qualified to explain exactly how physics translates into winning races.

Based on the author’s extensive access to race shops, pit crews, crew chiefs and mechanics, this book traces the life cycle of a race car from behind the scenes at top race shops to the track. The Physics of NASCAR takes readers right into the ultra competitive world of NASCAR, from the champion driver’s hot seat behind the detachable steering wheel to the New Zealander nicknamed Kiwi in charge of shocks for the No. 19 car.

Diandra Leslie-Pelecky tells her story in terms anyone who drives a car—and maybe occasionally looks under the hood—can understand. How do drivers walk away from serious crashes? How can two cars travel faster together than either car can on its own? How do you dress for a 1800°F gasoline fire? In simple yet detailed, high-octane prose, this is the ultimate thrill ride for armchair speed demons, auto science buffs, and NASCAR fans at every level of interest.

Readers, start your engines.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525950530
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/14/2008
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Diandra Leslie-Pelecky is Professor of Physics at The University of Texas at Dallas, where she researches biomedical nanomaterials. Dr. Leslie-Pelecky has published widely on her academic research and improving science education at all levels. This is her first book.

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Table of Contents

Foreword   Ray Evernham     ix
Preface: The Physics of What ...?     xi
Bones of Contention     1
Skin Care     21
Makeup     35
Combustion     51
Power Play     71
The Wizard and the Flying Car Problem     91
Running with the Pack     105
Texas Motor Speedway at 150 mph     119
Sound Thinking     135
The Rubber Hits the Road     145
Shock Therapy     161
The Two-Lap Dash: A Qualified Success     173
Keeping Drivers (and Fans) Alive     189
Making Racing SAFER     199
Practice Doesn't Always Make Perfect     213
Elliott is Hot     229
The Locusts in the Pit Box     241
The Checkered Flag     259
Notes     267
Acknowledgments     275
Index     277
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