NASCAR Fans Find the Physics
KGJ/APS © 2007
She became interested in NASCAR physics while watching a race during which a car suddenly veered into the wall. She couldn’t figure out what caused the crash and set out to solve the problem.
Leslie-Pelecky soon discovered that there was a lot more to car racing than driving around in circles. She shared her information with APS members and local residents during a recent APS meeting in Jacksonville.
Any good NASCAR driver can recite this basic mantra: Go fast, always turn left and don’t crash. Leslie-Pelecky said that the drivers are working at a point of constant unstable equilibrium. The key to keeping that precarious balance is maintaining, as much as possible, the same amount of force on all four tires.
She found that the best NASCAR drivers are “intuitive physicists.”
They understand the complex interplay of the various forces at work on the track–from aerodynamics and acceleration to friction and energy dispersion upon impact.
©1995 - 2016, AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY
APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.
APS Washington, D.C. Office
529 14th St. NW,
Washington, DC 20045
Director of Public Affairs: Michael Lubell
Associate Director of Public Affairs: Francis Slakey
Head of Government Relations: Steve Pierson
Legislative Correspondent: Brian Mosley
Office Manager: Jeanette Russo
Press Secretary: Tawanda W. Johnson
Senior Science Policy Fellow: Donald E. Engel
College Park, MD
One Physics Ellipse,
College Park, MD 20740
Executive Editor: Alan Chodos
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff
Art Director / Special Publications Manager: Kerry G. Johnson
Design and Production: Nancy Bennett-Karasik