The National Science Foundation and NASCAR have teamed up for a new video series that explains the science of car racing in depth (trailer above). "The Science of Speed" videos go straight to the track to show all the tricks racers use to get the most velocity out of a hunk of metal on four wheels.
Does the "N" in NASCAR stand for nepotism? Research published earlier this year in the Journal of Sports Economics investigates the last 30 years of racing to determine whether a family name has provided a free ride. The data shows that sons of NASCAR drivers do not have significantly longer careers than competitors without a family link, given the same level of performance (so Dale Jr. haters, pipe down).
So the answer is that there's no nepotism? Not so fast. Second brothers do have a significantly longer career than their performance warrants. Fathers also perform better than sons (Dale Jr. haters, we hear you). While first brothers perform better than second brothers. But don't think having a son doesn't affect the father. Fathers with a son competing have a significantly shorter career than their performance would warrant. Tell that to Richard Petty.
A change in protocol may shift the coaching dynamics of the race
By Brett ZardaPosted 07.14.2008 at 3:21 pm 1 Comment
The Tour de France has made a critical change in protocol that could greatly alter race strategy, regarding how it provides real-time updates. For a decade, attacks by specific riders were immediately broadcast over an official communication channel, Radio Tour, and directly into the follow cars where directors for each team were listening. Depending on the specific rider(s), the specific team, and the size of the lead, directors in each car would instruct their team through helmet-mounted radios on whether to give chase or lay back.
Should sports-car racing's top dogs be grounded for safety?
By Mike SpinelliPosted 06.04.2008 at 12:16 pm 2 Comments
The run-up to the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race is always a nail-biting enterprise for race teams. Naturally, techs are most concerned with assuring cars' ability to sustain the day-night race, which is the ultimate test for GT cars and sportscar prototypes that will wind through the Circuit of the Sarthe -- on a combination of racetrack and public roads -- in Le Mans, Sarthe, France. This year there's an added kink keeping teams up nights. It appears the gods of aerodynamics have been sending LeMans prototype-class racecars into the ether with a cosmic finger flick.
With the help of YouTube, a lap around the legendary (and publicly accessible) Nürburgring in Germany is becoming a new gold standard of auto performance
By Mike SpinelliPosted 05.20.2008 at 5:02 pm 2 Comments
Back in 1946, Mechanix Illustrated writer "Uncle" Tom McCahill began measuring cars' performance by how quickly he could launch them from a standing start to 60 miles per hour. That measure, evocative in its simplicity, quickly became the standard for judging a passenger car's performance, and a perfect proxy for advertisers to capture the excitement of driving in a single phrase. Zero to 60 in a scorching 5.5 seconds!
From next month's 24 Hours of Nürburgring endurance race to next year's F1 season, auto racing is embracing hybrid initiatives
By Mike SpinelliPosted 04.28.2008 at 5:01 pm 24 Comments
Making Formula One racing "greener" may be as much a marketing decision as a policy of corporate responsibility. But according to F1 officials, there's another reason to do so. The series has been moving further out of sync with the technical direction of the passenger car industry, which increasingly has fuel economy on the brain. F1 was always intended to be a bellwether, not a rogue element. That's one reason why, beginning in 2009 Formula One racing will introduce a hybrid-drive system into the series. If you want a sneak preview of how a hybrid setup might work in a racing application, keep an eye on how well one oddly named race car performs in next month's 24 Hours of Nürburgring endurance challenge in Germany next month.
To break the world land speed record, you need a marketable driver
By Gregory MonePosted 04.22.2008 at 11:45 am 4 Comments
A racing team led by 66-year-old Ed Shadle is gunning for the world land speed record of 763 miles per hour—their goal is to break the 800 mark. Shadle has spent a decade and $150,000 getting ready, and transforming an old jet into his potentially record-smashing ride, the North American Eagle. The car boasts 42,000 horsepower, and will supposedly do 0 to 800 in just 20 seconds. And it's entirely green, running on solar . . . no, just kidding.
The big news, though, is that Shadle is looking for drivers.
PopSci’s new automotive guru flogs one of the year’s most anticipated
sports cars—the 2009 Nissan GT-R
By Mike SpinelliPosted 04.11.2008 at 5:54 pm 5 Comments
digg_url = 'http://digg.com/autos/Racing_The_2009_Nissan_GT_R';
This is the first post by PopSci's new Contributing Editor and automotive blogger, Mike Spinelli. An automotive-focused writer, blogger, and Sirius radio host, Mike left a career in technology market research to become founding editor of New York-based automotive website Jalopnik.com in 2004. Check back each day for his blog posts on PopSci.com, and watch for his byline in the magazine as well. —Eds.
Get on the brakes right here, says the voice in my head. Move to the inside and let the car drift outward to the right. Then cut in hard and itll set you up for this next tight bit. Now get right on the speed again. The voice was that of New Zealander Steve Millen, veteran race driver and instructor of journalists gathered to sample the 2009 Nissan GT-R. Earlier, with Millen at the wheel, wed shot through the same section of Nevadas Reno-Fernley raceway -- a 200-degree banked left called the Horse Shoe followed by a quick right that opens into a nearly straight run -- while he narrated the action as casually as if over a pot of Earl Grey. Now I was doing it solo and, I might add, astonishingly well.
Watch as souped-up power tools tear down a 60-foot track (and through a flaming hoop!) in our exclusive video
By Gregory MonePosted 12.11.2006 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
For a closer look at the wildest repurposed rigs, launch the photo gallery by clicking 'View Photos' at left. And to see what happens when the power-tool racers come across a gas-powered ring of fire and a few cold beers, see the video at the bottom of the page.
It´s a rocket. Stuck through the back of a skull, sitting on an aging belt sander rigged to a pair of sawed-off skis. And it can haul butt down a track.