Most people watching a NASCAR race see racecars. Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky sees a science experiment on wheels. Over her 14 years of reporting, she’s gotten behind-the-scenes access to race shops and personnel, driven the 24-degree banking of Texas Motor Speedway, and embedded with a race team. NASCAR is one sport where you cannot win without mastering math, science and engineering.
In 75 years, NASCAR has evolved from moonshine and dirt tracks to computational fluid dynamics and finite element analysis. Dirt tracks are still part of the picture, but so are sweeping superspeedways, sprawling road courses and 1.5-mile tracks like Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Science and engineering moved even further to fore with the Next Gen racecar. This seventh-generation racer is versatile, resembles its production-car relatives, and includes the latest research in motorsports safety. It’s even ready for an eventual move to hybrid drivetrains.
Dr. Diandra will explain the origin of the Next Gen car, review its first year on track, and how problems that surfaced in 2022 were addressed. She’ll explain why changing downforce isn’t as simple as removing a part or two, and why balance such so important. And she’ll do it all in everyday language. Whether you’re a race fan curious to know why your driver is (or isn’t) winning, or a scientist wondering why people get so excited about cars driving around in circles, you will enjoy learning about the science of speed.
Please enter through room 204 to access room 235