The Physics of Racing Cars

The Physics of Racing Cars




Dr. Khalil Ziq
Department of Physics
King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM)
Dharan, Saudi Arabia

*This video was sponsored by Saudi Aramco and produced by Sultan Bin Abdel Aziz Science & Technology Center

Lesson Feedback


This video lesson discusses how a few simple physics concepts can help in understanding various factors that influence the performance of racing cars. Students will also learn how these same concepts influence the design and development of a racing car that is safe and able to compete in various racing conditions. In particular, this lesson examines what goes on outside the car: the aerodynamics of air flowing above the body of the car and how friction and Newton’s third law affects the motion and the interaction between the tires and the road. After working on this lesson, students should be able to: identify the factors that affect the stability of racing cars; use the Bernoulli Effect to explain the difference between a moving airplane and a racing car; and use Newton's Third Law to explain the motion. As a prerequisite to this lesson, math and physics at the level of grade 10 should be sufficient. Materials needed include: blank sheets of paper; soda straws; cardboard boxes; protractors; and wooden blocks. Including the in-class activities, this video lesson will take less than an hour to complete.

Instructor Biography

Professor Ziq received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago in1989. His research interest is discovering new superconducting materials. He also enjoys teaching physics and often designs his own class demonstrations that simplify complex physics concepts for students. 

Additional Online Resources

NOVA: Lift and Drag
This site is sponsored by NOVA and provides an interactive discussion of Lift and Drag.

NASA: Welcome to the Beginner's Guide to Aerodynamics
This site is sponsored by NASA and presents a beginner’s guide to Aerodynamics.

Formula 1
This site, provided by Formula 1, presents a comprehensive overview of the aerodynamics of racing cars.