National Science Teaching Association: How Does Being Close to the Ground Help a NASCAR Race Car?

Planes taxiing down a runway and NASCAR cars racing along a track move at similar speeds.

Why does airlift the plane, but not the race car? In this lesson, students make observations and analyze published data to help them explain how the design of NASCAR race cars (structure) causes air to firmly push the car down onto the track (function). Race car engineers refer to the downward force the air applies to the car as downforce.


Science Topics
Aerodynamics, Force (Applied & Normal), Physics, Sports
Engineering Topics
Machines, Structures
Middle School, Educator
6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade
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