Use of Math in Auto Racing

Topics: Automobile, Car handling, Auto racing Pages: 8 (1270 words) Published: April 2, 2002
Mathematics is found everywhere in life and work and auto racing is

no exception. There are many applications of math in racing.

The purpose of racing is to win and in order to do that there must be a lot of

math involved. If you don't use math and use it correctly then you will not win.

Mathematics is involved in racing in two ways, the car setup and scoring an

measurements. The car setup involves tire pressure, down force, wedge,

aerodynamic Drag, camber, track bar and valance. The scoring system also uses math.

In addition to scoring math is also used to measure different racing related

subjects such as car weight, gas mileage time interval, qualifying, and the track


Tire pressure is used as a setup tool that is akin to adjusting spring rates in

the vehicles suspension. Increasing the air pressure in the tires raises the spring rate

in the tire itself and changes the vehicles handling characteristics. In order for

optimal performance the teams must know the proper p.s.i ( Pressure per square inch)

for a certain tire on a certain track for a certain air temperature.

Math is also used in measuring the "downforce." Downforce is the air pressure

traveling over the surface of the car. This air pushes the car downwards which creates

the term downforce. The greater the psi the greater the downforce which creates better

tire grip for higher speeds through turns.

Wedge is another racing term that relies on math. Wedge refers to the relationship

from corner to corner of the weight of the car. The weight on any corner of the vehicle

affects the weight of the other three corners in direct proportion. The wedge determines

how the car handles by either stiffening the wedge or loosening it up.

Aerodynamic drag is another math related racing factor. A number that is a

coefficient of several factors indicates how well a car will travel through the air is the

aerodynamic drag. Teams use specific tests to determine how to achieve the least amount

of drag on the car in order to obtain the fastest speed possible.

Math is involved in the camber of a tire which is also very critical in creating

the fastest car possible. Camber is the angle at which a tire makes contact with the track

surface. The camber varies from tire to tire depending on which tire it is in order to

achieve the fastest and best handling car possible.

Math is also prevalent when dealing with a cars track bar. The track bar locates

the vehicles rear end housing from left to right underneath it. In calibrating the vehicles

"suspension geometry" by raising or lowering the track bar a team is able to change

the rear roll center which determines how well the car will handle in turns. Determining

the proper angle of the track bar a team controls the car.

A cars valance also involves using math. A cars valance is the panel that extends

below the front bumper, also known as a front air dam. The amount of clearance between

the valance and the ground directly affects the amount of front downforce the vehicle

creates. The lower the valance the greater the downforce. The teams must use math

in order to determine the distance the valance is to the ground and the amount of

downforce it creates for the best possible performance.

In addition to the setup of a car math is also used in auto racing in order to

score and determine racing related measurements.

Math is used in the scoring or points system of auto racing.

The points system in NASCAR uses math in order distribute points to the drivers and

teams. The winner receives 175 points and from there the points given decline in five

point increments for places two through six. Points awarded then drop four points per

driver for positions seven through eleven and then three points per driver from there on

out. Divers who lead at least one lap...
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