Physics of a Car Essay

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Physics of a Car

The average driver doesn’t think about what keeps their car moving or what keeps them on the road, but that’s because they don’t have to. The average driver doesn’t have to worry about having enough downforce to keep them on the road or if they will reach the adhesive limit of their car’s tires around a turn. These are the things are the car designers, professional drivers, racing pit crews, serious sports car owners, and physicist think about. Physics are an important part of every sports and racing car design. The stylish curves and ground effects on sports cars are usually there not just for form but function as well allowing you to go speeds over 140 mph in most serious sports cars and remain on the road and in reasonable control.

          The aerodynamic efficiency is the single most important element in designing a competitive car for professional racing or getting the car model on the front of a Car and Driver or Motortrend. Aerodynamics is the study of the motion of gases on objects and the forces created by this motion. The Bernoulli effect is one of the most important behind car design. The Bernoulli Effect states that the pressure of a fluid, in gaseous or liquid state, varies inversely with speed or velocity and a slower moving fluid will exert more pressure on and object than the same fluid moving slower (Yager). The goal of car designers is to make the air passing under a car move faster than the air passing over the car. This causes the air passing over the car to create more downforce than the air passing under the car creates upforce creating a force additional to the car’s weight pushing the car to the road. Large amounts of downforce are needed to keep light cars grounded at high speed and keep to cars from sliding around turns at high speeds.
The Venturi Effect is also an important in aerodynamic design. The Venturi Effect states that as a fluid, in gaseous or liquid state passes through a narrow space its speed increases (Yager). This is the reasoning behind keeping cars as close to the ground as they can be safely. The narrow space between the car and the ground increases the speed of the air flowing beneath it causing a decrease in pressure to do the Bernoulli Effect and increase in downforce. The Venturi Effect is the reason for front ground effects, which feature small air ducts or venturi tunnels.


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...both worlds for its purpose, the dragster. The Dragster has extremely wide rear tires for acceleration and to keep it going straight. The dragster has extremely thin tires in the front to reduce rolling resistance and because handling is not a concern the car goes in a straight line it does not need to turn.

     In order to have a fast and efficient car all these things I have discussed need to be taken into consideration. A fast car should be designed with aerodynamic surfaces for a balance of maximum production of downforce and minimum drag creating surfaces. It should have as small an engine as possible to reduce mass and reduce the necessary size of the frontal area, but a large enough engine to be able to produce enough horsepower to be able to create more force than the resistance the car faces to accelerate and enough to balance with those forces at high speeds. The tires should be wide enough for fast acceleration and good cornering but not so wide it creates large amounts of rolling resistance. Your overall best example of such a car would be formula one races or Indy cars because they have to have good handling, fast acceleration and reach and maintain high speeds.

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