If you love NASCAR, this book will increase your love.
If you don't think NASCAR is interesting, this book will change your mind. There's lot more going on than just turning left and keeping the pedal to the metal.
Each NASCAR track presents different challenges to drivers, team leaders, car designers, mechanics, and pit crews. At the same time, NASCAR is trying to keep the cost of racing down, to reduce accidents and deaths, and to make the sport fairer for all. Professor Leslie-Pelecky goes behind the scenes to explain the technical challenges, and shares anecdotes and vignettes of what racing is like for the technical teams and drivers.
Fans are naturally frustrated if a favorite driver seems to have a slug rather than a race car some weeks. If the weather is changeable, it's hard to avoid a slug. Why? The cars are optimized to so many factors that a switch in the weather makes the car work much less well. Although the mechanics can make lots of last minute changes, there's still a lot guess work involved.
While many books about the physics of something can be pretty dry, The Physics of NASCAR doesn't have that problem. The scientific explanations are short and simple. The human stories about what the science means are rich and long.
I came away very impressed with the brain power that goes into NASCAR winning. My interest was greatly increased by learning more about the non-driving side.
Prior to reading this book, my knowledge of NASCAR racing consisted of the knowledge that it exists. However, as someone who has worked all his life in professional science, I've always been interested in the interaction of science with everyday life. I found this book fascinating. Professor Leslie-Pelecky covers a vast amount of ground, ranging from the nature and structure of materials to the physical forces operating on a racecar. At times the explanations are too simplistic, and she occasionally gets things wrong, but these are minor quibbles in an otherwise very entertaining and informative book, which hopefully will encourage people to consider science not as something remote, done only in laboratories, but as having relevance to the world around us.