Fast Car Physics

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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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The average driver doesn't think about what keeps their car moving or what keeps them on the road, but that's because they don't have to. The average driver doesn't have to worry about having enough downforce to keep them on the road or if they will reach the adhesive limit of their car's tires around a turn. These are the things are the car designers, professional drivers, racing pit crews, serious sports car owners, and physicist think about. Physics are an important part of every sports and racing car design. The stylish curves and ground effects on sports cars are usually there not just for form but function as well allowing you to go speeds over 140 mph in most serious sports cars and remain on the road and in reasonable control. The aerodynamic efficiency is the single most important element in designing a competitive car for professional racing or getting the car model on the front of a Car and Driver or Motortrend. Aerodynamics is the study of the motion of gases on objects and the forces created by this motion. The Bernoulli effect is one of the most important behind car design. The Bernoulli Effect states that the pressure of a fluid, in gaseous or liquid state, varies inversely with speed or velocity and a slower moving fluid will exert more pressure on and object than the same fluid moving slower (Yager). The goal of car designers is to make the air passing under a car move faster than the air passing over the car. This causes the air passing over the car to create more downforce than the air passing under the car creates upforce creating a force additional to the car's weight pushing the car to the road. Large amounts of downforce are needed to keep light cars grounded at high speed and keep to cars from sliding around turns at high speeds. The Venturi Effect is also an important in aerodynamic design. The Venturi Effect states that as a fluid, in gaseous or liquid state passes through a narrow space its speed increases (Yager). This is...
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