The Science of Stock – NASCAR RULES | SCIENCE GARAGE

The Science of Stock – NASCAR RULES | SCIENCE GARAGE


(engines roar) (cheers) – NASCAR Rule! I mean yeah, NASCAR does rule. They also have rules. And that’s a fact of life. Without them, we’d just
be living in anarchy, and well, take it from me, anarchy ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Real life isn’t always fair, or fun, but NASCAR races try to be both. (techno music) So, if you poke around on the inter webs, you can find the guidelines for NASCAR Cup Car Livery, sponsorship, qualifying, points scoring, Pit Road Rules, race procedures, and penalties. Man! That is a lot of rules! But, what about rules for
the Cup Cars themselves? NASCAR keeps those locked up
behind a username and password, and some seasons, you
might have new adjustments to the rule books every race. Why all them dang-nab rules? – [Crowd] Yeah! – This might be hard to believe, but in the beginning Stock Car Racing was actually racing stock cars. Yeah, it’s the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. The first official NASCAR
strictly stock division race was held June 19, 1949 at the Charlotte Speedway in North Carolina. Racers had to complete 200 laps on a three quarter mile dirt oval in completely stock production cars. Top speed was barely 68 miles per hour. But racing a normal car
isn’t that exciting, and NASCAR’s roots are in bootlegging. Which involved a lot of tinkering and souping up of cars. – Did somebody say soup? – Oh, hey Campbell! What are you doing here? This isn’t a cooking show,
this is a car channel. – You know where the term
souped up comes from? – Gosh, no. I actually never thought about where the term souped up comes from. – It comes from back in
the days of horse racing. – Are you kidding me? – Yeah, guys used to give their horse amphetamines to make them run faster and they’d mix it in with the soup. So, they’d say, “hey, that horse must be souped up.” – Ah, thanks Campbell. – Okay, I’m gonna go cool off. – That’s some pretty
interesting information. Eventually NASCAR
enforced the homologation rule that required manufacturers to sell a certain number of the model that they wanted to race to the public. That lead to the production
of a few unique models, specifically for NASCAR races. Instead of taking regular cars and modifying them for racing, Ford and Chrysler just went ahead and made straight up race cars with extreme aerodynamic features, and tried to sell them to people. The Ford Torina Talladega
had a rounded nose, and the Dodge Charger Daytona and Plymouth Superbird had super tall rear wings and pointed nose caps. Those special aero NASCAR models, they’re making all kinds of downforce and obliterating the other
cars on the race circuit. So, in 1971, NASCAR re-wrote the rules and introduced the restrictor plate for the first time. A restrictor plate is
a thin piece of metal with some holes in it,
installed into the car’s intake. It reduces the amount of air and fuel that reaches the cylinders. Less air and fuel means less boom, slower acceleration,
and a lower top speed. We still use restrictor plates in NASCAR. Though, these cars can still get well above 700 hrspwrs. Alright, now think about this. Imagine it’s 1971, and you’re taking your brand new Hemi Cuda to
the oval and flooring it. (race announcer indistinct) Awesome! Now imagine getting in a wreck. (race announcer indistinct) Unsafe at any speed? How safe at 180 miles an hour? Not safe. So it’s becoming even more clear that more modifications should be made to these cars. Stock cars are getting
less and less stock. But, for the right reasons,
both speed and safety. NASCAR is, and almost always has been, a clash between rules
that try to keep drivers safe while creating a level playing field, and teams trying to exploit loopholes in those rules to gain an advantage. Recently, NASCAR decided
to regulate which impact wrenches could be used in the pits. Then, a crew figured
out that if they change the gas, they can get
the guns to go faster. Be more powerful. So, then NASCAR had to
make a rule for that. Pretty sneaky guys. And seeing on TV, those cars look cool. But you have no idea how
fast 200 miles an hour is until you see these cars hurling
around the track in person. (cars passing) You got no idea what it’s like to drive one of these things, ’til you get to. (engine roars) – Ahhhh! That is awesome! – Why put on the restrictor plates? Isn’t faster, better? I don’t know, let’s ask professional NASCAR driver, Parker Kligerman. – The intention of the
new rules package is okay, what if we started to give these cars more grip, gave them
a little less horsepower. It’ll allow us to kind of race each other, instead of racing
ourselves, racing the track. – Modern day rule changes are tested in computer simulations, wind
tunnels, and field tests. But, there’s not way to account for every possible factor, at every track. In addition to the large number of things that can be changed on the car; track surfaces change over time, the weather changes all the time, and the drivers themselves are completely unpredictable. (race car engines roar) You don’t know what the guy
next to you is gonna do. NASCAR uses science to inform their decisions about the rules, but often a new rule is really a scientific experiment in its self. And sometimes, things don’t
always work out like you hope. (race crowd indistinct) The latest Cup Cars came out in 2013, and they’re called Generation six. Since the car shapes had become super uniform, they adjusted the rules to let the cars more closely resemble the production models
upon which they’re based. – It’s the only Camry in
the world with a V8, right? – Rear wheel drive V8. – Rear wheel drive, V8, Camry. – And remember, the idea is trying to keep the cars similar, but allowing enough room for adjustment. Here’s a quick run down of the specs. Every car’s got a front
engine, rear wheel drive layout in a tube frame chassis. The whole thing is basically a roll cage. They’re closed wheel, closed cockpit, race cars with a 24 gauge
sheet metal body panel. The suspension rules call for an independent front double wishbone setup in a solid axle with
trailing arms in the rear. That means, the rear
suspension is dependent. Kind of like a 21 year old living at home. The brake rotors have to be magnetic, cast iron, or steel and can’t have a larger diameter than 12.72 inches. Antilock brakes and traction control systems are strictly not allowed. But even with all those regulations, there’s still room for teams to change subtle things that will effect
their car’s performance. – We’re here with Parker
Kligerman, and we’ve been told he is the absolute authority,
as far as drivers go, on what all the new rules are. – It starts pretty much
at the engine, right? Horsepower is always key. These are 900 horsepower engines that are now restricted down to about 750. We’re all roughly close because of the way they restrict the engines. But from there, they become
erector sets, these race cars. So it’s all about downforce and sideforce. In stock cars, the other thing we fight, besides aero, is heat. We constantly try to take heat out of the tires, out of the engine, out of the brakes,
because heat saps speed. Next year, we are gonna be
having the same engines, they’re just gonna be restricted now all the way down to 550 horsepower. We’re gonna put a massive
spoiler on the back. It’s so big, we actually put
clear plexiglass at the top so that we could see through
it, through the mirror. Otherwise you wouldn’t be
able too see out the back. We’re gonna enlarge the
splitter, and then we have these aero ducts, where
we now have brake ducts, that are gonna allow the air to basically come through the front wheel wells. These ducts right now that run through here, come out into the tire. They’ll now be forced out right here, and the air will be forced out and that will create drag on
the cars, to slow us down. – Let’s talk about aero. The use of aerodynamic devices is limited to a front splitter, side
skirts, rear spoiler, and NACA ducts in the window. NACA ducts are low drag air inline. Why do they call it NACA duct? I’ll tell you. It was originally created by The US National Advisory
Committee for Aeronautics. NACA. Oh, this is pretty cool, there’s also flaps integrated into
the roof and the hood so if the car goes into a spin, it’ll pop up, keep the car down. None of the other aero components
can be adjusted or tuned. But, that doesn’t stop
teams from trying to tweak them to gain advantages anyway. For example, at Chicagoland Speedway in September 2017, Hendrick Motorsports stuck a bit of tape to the top edge of Chase Elliot’s rear spoiler. At 200 miles an hour,
that little bit of tape could’ve added somewhere between 30 and 50 pounds of downforce. Which could give him a 0.2 second advantage in lap times. Elliott came in second. And then after the official findings, he and the team were penalized
for breaking the rules. But that’s what I’m talking about. The slightest edge can
make a big difference. Oh, let’s talk about some of the mind boggling tech that
goes into making sure these teams are following the rules. We’re inside the optical scan station here at NASCAR. – So what the camera’s doing is projecting different patterns on the car. It takes all that photogrammetry and it compares it to the cad of the car As each one of the patterns is going across the body of the car, it’s snapping pictures at all the times. Inspector will come in,
and he’ll turn the wheel. So, as he’s turning the wheel,
it’s taking measurements. Wheel bays, tread width,
tow, camber, everything. – Let’s go outside, he’s
gonna show us the results. – So it takes all that data, and then dumps it into a results folder. Green is good, anything
red is coming at you, anything blue is going away from you. If I saw this quarter panel and there was a lot of blue,
that’s an aero advantage. So I would look at that and say hey you gotta fix that. I talked about wheel
alignments on the inside, this is what it gives us. Camber, tread, tells us which way they skew the rear end, whether they go forward or rearward. – If something is off, they gotta fix it? – Yes. – Or, and that gets measured again tomorrow before the race? – Yes. – That’s pretty cool stuff. And these guys know what they’re doing. But the cars don’t always keep that shape. – These doors will cave in, this down here will try and cave in, you’ll try to flare the skirts. This will all cave in, and then when we get off the race track, it’ll also pop back into shape. We wanna try and steal downforce, steal sideforce, steal speed. So then we start making
these cars change and move. – It’s like bootleggers. – Yeah, exactly. We’re still the same guys. We’re still running moonshine. – Hey, now let’s talk about these dang old power plants that sound so good. (engine roar) The engines are
electronically fuel injected, iron block, V8’s with valves operated by push rods, and you got
two valves per cylinder. Engine size capped at 358 cubic inches, or five point eight liters. And they can make somewhere
around 850 horsepower. At most race tracks, the engines run at over 9,000 rpm, more than 500 miles. If you tried to do that with your car, you’d probably need a new car. For 36 races, including
season and non-points exhibition races, you get 13 engines. You gotta use each of them twice, for two entire race weekends. And they get sealed up to
make sure you’re not cheating. And the engine also has to be the same one used in qualifying. If you swap out the motor, the car and the driver lose their
qualifying position, you start at the back of the grid. Oh, this is pretty cool, too. Other strictly mandated
equipment includes the tires. Every team uses the exact same tires, developed exclusively by Goodyear. The rubber compounds made to balance grip, heat, and tire wear characteristics. Goodyear selects drivers every weekend to give them feedback on how the cars and tires are feeling for the track. Every driver is running on the same tires as every other driver. Remember when I said they’re trying to keep things even? And although the tires can’t be changed, futzing with the air pressure is allowed. And that can have a
big effect on handling. You’ll see pit crews
inflating or deflating tires during the race based on feedback that they’re getting from the drivers. Also, the camber on these things is nuts. In oval tracks, both tires are cambered the same way to hug those turns. During cornering, the right front tire supports a load of some 4,000 pounds, just like your mom’s chair. So making sure things are properly adjusted is crucial. If that doesn’t sound advanced enough for you, we’ve also got people upstairs in the pit monitoring the path of the car and the forces
on it in real time, comparing it to previous laps. Oh, and you may have heard a little to do about the upcoming 2019 NASCAR
Cup Series Season Rules. For some tracks, it’s gonna
need a lower top speed, but it’s gonna need a lot more downforce. Why do they do this? I don’t know. Let’s ask professional race
car driver, Bubba Wallace. – It just closes up the
gap from 20th on back. That’s what we’re hoping for. We could having the majority of the field close together in racing and trying to do whatever they can to get the lead. We’re still probably gonna battle the dirty air, is what we call it. You get within three or four car-lengths of another car, and you kinda stall out. – [Announcer] Going
into three for the lead! – We got a ton more,
pretty much 1,000 pounds more downforce added at some
tracks, not all the tracks. Different spoiler on
the back, so, I’ll say I’m excited about it, just to try it out. It’s gonna be interesting. – The rear spoiler is gonna be eight inches tall, by 61 inches wide. Which is taller than what
they’re currently running. This means more downforce, which can give cars better grip
in trickier situations. The splitter is gonna be larger, too. With a two inch overhang,
and a ten and a half inch winglets on the ends under the car. The radiator pan’s gonna be wider, measuring 37 inches in the front, tapering to 31 in the back. These three aerodynamic changes are gonna increase overall downforce, and they’re gonna be used
at all the 2019 races. And this stuff’s pretty interesting, too. At oval tracks larger than a mile, cars are gonna use aero ducts in the front bumper to divert air off the side of the car and away from the front tires. So, it’ll be an actual duct. – Right here, no longer a sticker. – That’s to reduce the
amount of turbulence in the car’s wake, so it’s gonna be easier for a trailing competitor to pass. And then for racing at hard braking tracks like Atlanta, Darlington,
Pocono, and Homestead, cars are gonna switch to brake ducts. Now, let’s get back to this
infamous restrictor plate. In 2019, only the Daytona 500 is gonna be run with a true restrictor plate. At all the other tracks,
teams are gonna use two different sizes of tapered spacers. So, what’s the difference? A restrictor plate is just an eighth of an inch thick aluminum plate with four holes in it. Why change to a tapered spacer? Why are you asking me
all of these questions? You know I’m gonna answer them. When the air runs into
the restrictor plate, the molecules gotta make a harsh 90 degree turn to get through the hole. The restricted turbulent air flow reduces the engines output significantly, somewhere in the 400 horsepower range. If you get someone with sandpaper on their finger, and scratch the plate, you’re gonna gain like half a second. Just makes it a little bit harder, enforce that everybody’s
following the rules. Tapered spacers eliminate that quality control problem. They’re also aluminum plates with four holes in them, only these plates are about an inch thick. The holes are tapered at seven degrees on the intake side, so that air flows through more smoothly. Seven degrees is the maximum angle air can travel along a surface without separating from it, which helps to reduce the turbulence. That taper effectively turns
each hole into a nozzle. The smaller tapered spacer should knock horsepower down to about 550, while the larger spacer limits horsepower to about 725. So they tested these
rules in both the lab, and in a few 2018 events before they wrote them into 2019 Official Rules. And when they tried them
out, the increased downforce and lower top speed seemed to have created a more exciting pack racing dynamic. But what do the drivers think? – We’re all cautiously
optimistic, I would say. You know, to see what it brings after we had a couple tests where we seen some cool passing and such. But, there’s an element
of me that wants 1,000 horsepower, and no downforce whatsoever. That’s what I wanna drive. That’s what any driver wants to drive. But, it might not be realistic for a show. – NASCAR’s as much about the fans, as it is the drivers. You try things, see if they work, and if they don’t, you make changes. That’s how progress is made. That’s what’s kept NASCAR on the cutting edge of racing technology. – That’s it man. – I like that. – That’s NASCAR, yeah, welcome. – That was comprehensive. It’s NASCAR week on Donut. The last race of 2018 is this
Sunday at Homestead, Miami. You don’t wanna miss it. It all comes down to this. Thanks to Skill Share for
sponsoring this episode. I know you like learning. And if you like learning,
you’ll love Skill Share. Skill Share is an online
learning community with thousands of classes in design, business, technology, and more. You wanna know how we did this? – Bart, I was driving! – Then you can learn video editing with Premier Pro, with Jordy Vandeput, along with 6,500 others! Premium membership gives you unlimited access to high quality
classes on must-know topics. So, you can improve your skills, unlock new opportunities, and do the work that you love. Skill Share is also more affordable than most learning platforms out there. An annual subscription is
less than ten dollars a month. I’ve got that right here, in my pants. And what’s even better is that the first 1,000 people to sign up with
the link in the description get the first two months for free. So go to skl.sh/sciencegarage4, or click on the link in the description. Go get skilled! Skill Share! Subscribe to Donut, you
can click this button, you can click that subscribe button. Learn more about aerodynamics
by watching this video. And you can learn even
more about aerodynamics by watching this other video. Follow us on Twitter and
Instagram @DonutMedia. You can follow me, @BidsBarto. Get some Donut merch at shop.donut.media Don’t tell my wife I’m
building a stock car.