Attention NASCAR fans (myself casually included) – have you ever wondered what the difference is between the coefficients of static friction and kinetic friction when tires are skidding along a race track, pondered the molecular properties of the drivers’ fire-retardant suits, or stopped to consider the computational fluid dynamics of car racing? Right, probably not. But if you suddenly had an epiphany, perhaps by virtue of a Newtonian blow to the head with a beer bottle, and a yearning for car-related physics knowledge…well, then there is a new book you might want to read.
The Physics of NASCAR® will be published on February 14, 2008, just in time for the 50th running of the Daytona 500. The book is written by Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, who teaches nonintuitive physics at the University of Nebraska. Here’s a link to a recent article in the NY Times about it.
Sarcasm aside, the reality is that knowing and being able to use science is a pre-requisite to winning races in today’s NASCAR. I point out this book just because the particular niche audience is sort of amusing – NASCAR fans who enjoy reading about physics. Yes, it’s a stereotype, but I don’t think I’m going way out on a limb by assuming that a large majority of avid NASCAR fans generally do not ready physics books for pleasure. Imagine a guy hanging with his buddies – let’s call them Larry and Brian – this Sunday watching the Daytona 500 who starts whining about asymmetric downforce or some other such thing. Such a man would, at best, be ignored by his friends, and at worst, get the book thrown at him 🙂
P.S. Here’s hoping Tony Stewart does not earn his first Daytona 500 victory.