According to Wikipedia, the definition
of auto racing is a motorsport involving the racing of automobiles for
competition. Now there are several forms of auto racing and they all have
applications of physics in them. Three of the main types of auto racing are
circuit, stock car, and drag racing. Circuit racing tracks feature many unique turns
and vary in length. Stock car racing tracks are oval shaped and vary in length
as well. Drag racing tracks are just a straight line and most tracks are a 1/4-mile
long. Now even though it may seem that circuit racing may have the most
applications to physics, physics can be found in a variety of ways in both
stock car racing and drag racing. You can find examples of Newton’s Laws of
motion throughout all these types of auto racing. You can also find other
concepts of physics as well. Throughout the essay I’m going to be explaining
where some of these concepts can be found in each category of auto racing that I
listed above. I will also explain if full detail on how exactly these concepts
are applied and why they are so important in auto racing.

I
will first begin by explaining a way physics can be found in Circuit racing.
Now Newton’s first law of motion states that “An object in motion will remain
in motion until acted upon by an unbalanced force.” This law would mostly apply
when a race car is coming to a turn or a curve. If the car was approaching a
smooth curve, then the all the driver would have to do is take his foot off the
gas pedal and steer along the curve. The car would not only stop from
accelerating but it will also begin to decelerate at a slow pace due to the
unbalanced force (friction) between the road and tires of the automobile. If
the car were to approach a sharp turn then the driver would not only have to
let off the gas pedal but also apply the brakes. By doing this the driver would
cause friction between the wheels and the brakes and therefore slowing down the
speed of the wheels. There are a couple things you must consider. One thing you
must consider is that the vehicle will eventually come to a stop either way.
The amount of time it takes for the vehicle to come to a stop depends how
strong the unbalanced force is. The stronger the unbalanced force is, the less
time it’ll take for the vehicle to come to a stop. Another thing you must
consider is the mass of the vehicle itself. If two vehicles were going the same
speed approaching a turn it would take a greater force to stop the heavier
vehicle. This is because the heavier vehicle has acquired more momentum than
the lighter vehicle. The final thing you should consider is the fact that there
are other forces acting on the vehicle other than friction from the road. Some
examples would be gravity and air resistance.

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Now I’m going to be discussing a couple ways physics can be
found in stock car racing. Many people don’t realize that all stock cars are
made to go the exact same speed so that drivers won’t have any advantages over other
drivers. Then how would one driver pass another driver in a race if both cars
were made to go the same speed? Well the answer is quite simple. You see all a
driver must do is get directly behind the car he wants to pass and by doing
this he will begin to “draft.” You see whenever you’re behind a car, the amount
of wind resistance you’re receiving is less than the amount the vehicle in
front of you is receiving. So, it’ll take less force for you to go the same
speed because the force acting against you is also less. Now when a driver is
going to pass a car they will have to go full throttle and maneuver around that
car. In the stock car racing scene this is what they call a “slingshot”. By
doing this you’re accelerating and creating enough momentum to pass he car. You
will eventually stop accelerating because you will begin to receive more air
resistance.

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