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The physics of NASCAR


Although NASCAR started the moonlight as an illegal racing car, it has also developed into a sport that is not only fun but also physics. It is an obvious element of physics and aerodynamics that these cars need to achieve the 200 mph speed with the minimum drag coefficient. But there are other forces like Newton's Movement Law and its centripetal power.

Newton's Law of Movement states that a body will stay in motion unless it has some external power. For example, in the outer space, in the absence of gravity, an object continues forever. So there are forces that resist the movement of the vehicle such as windshield and other than centripetal forces.

Centripetal force should not be confused with centrifugal force. However, without being too technical, we can think of centripetal force as a true force that is perpendicular to the movement of the moving body. The centrifugal force is a fictitious force and what we feel when we roll out of a moving vehicle is the reaction force. Centripetal power in NASCAR physics is key to keeping a car on the track. The tires of the vehicle provide the friction that is part of the centripetal force. The centripetal force retained along the course must not exceed the square of the car's speed. If you simply catch the car when the car is moving too fast, the wheels leave the ground and an accident occurs. The physics of NASCAR requires the race track to be engaged in order to increase friction (part of the centripetal force) to keep the car.

Another element of physics, the track is the center of gravity during the race. The gravitational center is basically the point where you can balance the car on the top of the flag pole (theoretically). Racing cars must have low center of gravity to keep the weight close to the track. If a vehicle has a high center of gravity, you may lose control if you go much faster to the turn. Think of an ambulance service with a high-profile area of ​​illness. If the ambulance turned too fast, it would be overwhelmed. But if your profile was not too high, you can make the turn faster because the center of gravity is lower.

The ambulance needs a high profile to acquire and treat patients, but the physics of NASCAR dictates the low mid-point to use more centripetal forces and keep it in a single turn.

Next, NASCAR's physics requires the machining of engine components that are important to building horsepower with minimal friction. You want friction if you need centripetal power, but you do not want it inside a motorcycle. This is why internal engine parts are machined within very accurate tolerances – much more precisely than cars for family and everyday use. Why? This is because it minimizes the friction within the engine. When the motors are pulling torque at this speed, friction is a very dangerous enemy.

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