The math used in professional auto racing covers virtually every
mathematical concept taught in school today. The successful professional
racing teams use every mathematical advantage they can to win. They
design their cars, measure their car's average speed, calculate instantaneous
speed, and more. Many teams have full time statisticians to keep track
of all the numbers and how they can use the numbers to win more races.
Along with the cars, drivers have their own mathematical statistics
to calculate and define their level of performance in numbers. These
include their driver standing, driver rating, number of laps lead,
number laps on lead lap, laps led in races, average speed, average
finishing position, instantaneous speed at specific points on the
course, quality passes - passing other cars in the top 15, and the
most important total winnings in money. These are just a few of the
types of math used in auto racing.
Everything that a professional driver does on the race course is
measured to compare where improvements are not needed. For example,
how fast a driver makes his/her way around a corner compared to other
drivers? How fast the driver goes down a straight away? These are
compared during practice, qualifying, and during the race. The reason
is to determine if any adjustments need to be made to the car or help
for the driver. This is also done to check the driver's skills throughout
When the tires are removed during a pit stop, the depth of the remaining
tread is measured to determine how the car is handling. All for tires
are measured and the data is used to determine the forces that are
being applied to the tire. If a particular tire shows more wear than
the other tires, an adjustment will be made to the car. Speaking of
pit stops, even the pit stops crews are timed and observed to see
if they can speed up the process. Less time in the pits means a better
chance of winning.
When designing a car for racing, math is used in every component
of design and construction. Typically professional auto racing organizations
have specific templates that the car must fit. Templates are based
on the shape of the car from many different angles (math). So the
designer must measure everything about the car to fit within the templates.
A perfectly designed car will ride smooth and win.
Other things that complicate the designer are the weight restrictions
that the car must fall within to meet specifications. They have to
take into account the weight of all materials to construct the car:
roll cage, engine, transmission, driver's seat, fuel tank, weight
of full fuel tank, weight of half empty fuel tank, oil, tires, the
weight of the driver, weight of driver's equipment, and many more
Not only do designers take weight into consideration, they
also have to determine precise measurements to cut materials. These
measurements are typically down to the millimeter (mm) range. High
performance professional auto racing requires that cars be built within
a mm of design specifications, so that the car will work properly
on the track. A professional car designer needs to know lots of math
and have a degree in engineering.
Another use of math in professional auto racing is to using electronic timing
as cars go up and down the pits, so they do not speed. A similar system
is used to determine a car's exact location on the track when a caution
flag is waved. This helps racing officials know where the cars belong
when the race restarts.
As you can see math is used everyone in professional auto racing
and this is just an overview of the big measurements. The engine builder
must use precise measurements to construct the engine from raw metal
materials. The all important sponsor stickers on the car must be placed
in the right location through measuring their relationship to other
stickers. Math is everywhere in professional auto racing.