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The Physics of Nascar: The Science Behind the Speed

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  106 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
A physicist explores the science of speed racing

With 75 million fans, NASCAR is the #1 spectator sport in America. Now, in The Physics of NASCAR, a scientist explains the intricate and complex way the sport works, in terms that anyone who drives a car?or maybe occasionally looks under the hood?can easily comprehend. Based on her extensive access to NASCAR race shops, driv
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Plume (first published 2008)
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I grabbed this book hoping to learn a little more about the physics involved in NASCAR. This book reads more like a textbook than I hoped it would, but there were still enough cool things mentioned that I enjoyed reading it. I don't know how much of this I will retain (hence the textbook mention), but the science geek buried deep within enjoyed the learning experience.
A physicist hangs out with NASCAR racing groups and explains in simple language the physics, with some chemistry too, of how materials bend and break, how gas combusts, what happens in a crash, and so on.
Jul 04, 2010 Steven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All NASCAR haters should read this before they say another word about it. Does a great job in explaining the workings of the gas combustion engine, but if you want more, delves into the (as the title states) the physics of the race car.
Jan 17, 2009 Gus rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun read! More NASCAR than physics I thought. The physics is *very* basic but considering the target audience that is wholly appropriate. I really was amazed at how complex the "sport" of NASCAR is. It's more a science and engineering sport than a driving sport.
Lady Belinda
Jan 13, 2011 Lady Belinda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nascar, science
This book was absolutely amazing. I love NASCAR, and this book made me appreciate and love the sport even more.
Apr 22, 2011 Randy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book for any NASCAR fan. Might be a little over some peoples head. But a great book for any NASCAR fan. I have read it probably 5 times and love it every time.
Feb 23, 2010 Kathie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book if you're a NASCAR fan and if you're a novice fan it will teach you a ton.
Shaun Mcdonnell
This book and going to 1 race made me a NASCAR fan for life.
Man Ching
I am not a racing fan. Believe it or not, my interest in racing stems from bicyle racing. I worked with a competitive cyclist; through him, we spoke about techniques in bike racing and how it isn't merely an issue of go fastest for the longest time. I was thus primed.

Because of my son, my wife and I had many viewings of the movie Cars. While my son also tells us to fast forward to the good parts (no character development for him! He just wants to see the two races in the movie!). Rather than dev
My review

A few Saturdays ago I was sitting in the library while my boys were deciding on which books to check out when I saw this book in a science display. After leafing through a few pages I thought it might be a fun read (something I needed) and checked out the book.

Over forty-six years ago, Tom Wolfe wrote about the attraction stockcar racing held for its fans. In a couple of places in the article, Wolfe describes some of the intuition and seat-of-the-pants experimentation by drivers and th
Jan 12, 2009 Leslie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Judy, do NOT roll your eyes! Adam gave me this book for Christmas, and I am always trying to learn something new about NASCAR racing. There was a lot to learn from this book, but, unfortunately, a lot of it went over my head---engine works, octanes, general combustion issues, air flow, etc.---or in one ear and out the other. The author is a scientist, so she tended toward charts and graphs: if the power went this way, the torque went this other way. What I more needed were drawings of how the ca ...more
Andrew Heitzman
Aug 24, 2016 Andrew Heitzman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leslie-Pelecky mixes simple physics with complex engineering, with a smattering of chemistry and biology, topped off with some information about how NASCAR works. Having never been involved with racing as a fan (but very involved with physics growing up) I found the actual science to be very polarizing. At times, processes could be boiled down to simple explanations, but at other times, when complex systems were explained in detail, I felt lost. There was limited connection between those poles. ...more
Feb 29, 2008 Seana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a NASCAR fan at all but I bought this book for a friend who is and decided to read it myself before giving it to him. Despite not knowing anything about cars or the sport itself, I actually found this fairly interesting. It deals with a ton of basic physics principles (motion, the visible spectrum, light refraction, combustion, etc.) as well as more NASCAR-specific issues like "slip", torque and octane levels in gasoline. The author addresses every aspect of the race car - from the paint ...more
Russ Lane
Oct 26, 2015 Russ Lane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book pretty much grabbed my attention when I saw the word NASCAR. Do not be afraid of the word physics, because it is not hard to understand. When it says physics it is talking about how everything works. It was a hard book to put down, if you already like NASCAR or not. If you do not already like it then this book may get you into the sport (and yes it is a sport like it or not). It will teach you about how the tracks are setup, how much horsepower is in the cars, and how they put that muc ...more
Jul 23, 2010 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-tech
This is a really fine book for getting a racing enthusiast interested in the science and engineering behind the scenes of the most popular racing series in the United States. The author, a physics professor at University of Texas at Dallas, covers a wide range of subject matter, from the stock car's structure and engine to its paint job, from car set-up to the race-day decisions necessary to win at the highest levels of the sport. She explains everything with extremely clear prose, and provides ...more
Dylan Rolfe
This book "The Physics of NASCAR" by Diandra Leslie-Pelecky is an okay book. Why I say this book is okay is because it is just boring to the guy that knows all the things that make a car go and stay together. The book does go into depth about the frame and skin of the race cars, the engines and how they little modifications to go faster, and how they keep the drivers and fans alive.
So overall this book is okay.
This book The Physics of NASCAR BY Diandra Leslie-Pelecky is a good book and as far as i know shes a new author. This book takes place in race shops all across the us from the famous well know Hendrick motorsports to Roush racing. The central character in the story is coming from an average person learning the basics behind nascar. Screaming, cheering, smiling nascar fans this is a book for you, it tells all about nascar what more do you need. This book in my opinion is a great book.
Oct 07, 2012 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gave this a 5, just because of how much I enjoyed reading the book. I thought she did a great job of blending history, science, and racing anecdotes. In some places, I would have liked a more in-depth discussion of the science in question. I felt like some of the explanations were thrown in almost as teasers. But, overall, I thought it was a great book.
Jul 30, 2008 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature-science
I initially bought this book for my dad, who is teaches high school physics and loves fixing up cars and watching racing. I bought myself a copy, too, and found it was the perfect accessory for a race fan like myself: someone who is into racing for the sheer enjoyment of it, but also has a dorky science side and is fascinated by everything that goes into racing. Good read!
Jan 22, 2009 Beth/Chuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Even though I'm not much into the current NASCAR racing compared to the '60's & '70's, the author being a physicist gives good simple explanations on why certain materials are used and why things do what they do. Very informative on why certain materials absorb heat & energy better than others. Good Christmas present.
Nick Hylands-white
This is a good intro to the major facets of the car and what the teams do to try and make them go faster, however just when it starts getting interesting, that's the end of the chapter. I wanted more detail.
P. Marcelo Metzelar
Jul 15, 2013 P. Marcelo Metzelar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This is a fantastic book! It gives a great conceptual understanding of physics, and it's a great story of the people who work behind the scenes! It's very eloquent and yet it is simple enough for anyone to read regardless of their knowledge of physics or NASCAR!
Skip Tate
Pretty technical and detailed, but a good read. Offers insights into aerodynamics, safety and car design. The detail about molecular structures of tire compounds and steel tubing was a bit much. But...
Jul 30, 2008 Melodee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: misc
This book has EVERYTHING you would ever want to know about the physics of NASCAR!! If you like NASCAR, you will love this book. It is very enlightening, written in a scientific, but easy-to-understand way. I loved it.
Got about halfway through and had to return it to the library. Learned more about torque, carbon fiber and valves though! A good introduction to some of the fascinating science of racecar construction.
Adam K
The book was very informant.It explained how all the science gets put into the cars to make them faster and more aerodynamic. it was interesting because i like cars and learning about them. The book had alot of information in it. i'd recommend it for someone who enjoys cars and nascar.
Simon Torres
Jun 04, 2015 Simon Torres rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For all you Nascar fans out there you would love this book because it shows and tell you how all the nascar cars would work and race with all the techniques and here it comes SCIENCE!!!!!.

everyone who likes cars and automobile racing would bassically love this book.
Sep 06, 2010 Anant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure the target audience the author had in mind while writing the book.

The book isn't bad though and is readable.
Very informative. I'm not really farmiliar with physics and the more sciency things but this book was easy to understand and interesting.
Feb 03, 2009 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A little too middle-school level for me. I wish it got more into the serious physics and engineering...
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