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 dont 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 receive five bonus points and the driver who leads
the most points in a race receives ten bonus points.
Math is used in another simple but important aspect of racing, the cars weight.
There are important reasons for having certain weight distributions. The weight
distributions determine how fast the car can go and how it can handle.
NASCAR has specific weight requirements for the cars depending on the track.
If there is a violation of the weight specifications then large fines will occur.
A simple but almost the most important use of math by racing teams is
determining the gas mileage of the car. There are no gas gauges inside of these
race cars therefore teams must determine their own gas mileage in order to
determine when to pit for gas or if they can go for a certain time without stopping.
It is not uncommon for cars to run out of gas during a race due to taking chances and
Another calculation that teams use math to determine is the time interval between
two or more cars. In order to figure out when or if they can catch or be caught by another
car, teams must calculate how fast their car is going and how fast the competitor is going
and the difference between them is called the interval. If the interval is getting smaller
than the two cars are becoming closer and if the interval is getting larger then the
gap between the cars is getting larger as well. Teams can also determine how many laps
it will take to overcome the next car (assuming there is a declining interval) and this
helps them determine strategy.
Similar to determining the interval between two cars is determining the
qualifying time. The starting positions in a race are determined by the fastest
qualifying times. Using math teams can determine how fast they must travel the track
distance in order to start at the front of the field. They are able to determine how fast
through each segment of the track they must run in order to put up the fastest time.
Math is also used to determine the track specifications. Not just the distance of the
track is important to the team when preparing for a race. The banking of the turns is also
important. The banking is the degree of the angle of the track, usually the banking is the
steepest in the turns. The banking can range from 0 degrees to 34 degrees which is
significant to the team when preparing for a race.
Math is very important in the world of racing. In order to be the most
competitive teams must know how to use math and use it correctly.
Incorrect calculations can cause dismal performance, fines and be dangerous
to the driver. Due to these reasons race teams accept no error in calculations
and always make sure to use the math to their advantage. Math is used in different ways
in racing. Math is used to determine the proper setup of a car and is used to determine
the scoring and measurements of racing subjects. The car setup involves math in
the tire pressure, downforce, wedge, aerodynamic drag, camber, track bar and the
valance. Math is used in the scoring to determine how many points a driver receives each
race and is used in measuring the car weight, gas mileage, time interval, qualifying and
the track specifications. All of these are just some of the many examples of how math is
relevant in all areas of life including auto racing.