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release dates: Sept. 12-18, 2020

37 (20)

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Issue 37, 2020

Founded by Betty Debnam

The Science
Behind
NASCAR

NASCAR safety

A big worry for NASCAR engineers is
safety. NASCAR safety features include:
• A “crush zone” is made by using
weaker tubing in the area engineers hope
will crumple first. Slightly smaller tubing is
put in the front and rear of the car. Thicker
tubes are
placed
closer to
the driver.
That way,
if there is
a crash,
the crush
Driver Carl Edwards climbs from
zone
with the his car after a crash in 2009. He
was uninjured.
smaller
tubing will crumple easier.
In race cars, tubes form a cage that
surrounds the driver’s compartment. These
tubes protect the driver from getting smashed.
• Drivers wear protective suits similar
to what firefighters wear. The material
does not burn or melt easily. When the suit
gets hot, it forms a layer of carbon on the
outside. That carbon blocks the fire.
The suits are not totally fireproof, but
they give the driver time to get out of the car.
• The walls around the track have foam
that absorbs energy. When a car hits a wall,
the energy goes to damage the wall instead
of the driver.

Mini Fact:
The average
NASCAR tire
has to be
replaced
every 50
miles.

Are you a NASCAR fan? If you are,
you’re not alone. Millions of people watch
NASCAR races each year. But there’s more to
the sport than high-speed driving.

photo by Roger Smith

photo by Luigiantonio72

Even when a driver slows down, the brake
parts might be so hot that they glow. The
brake pads might squeal. The motion energy
has changed to heat, light and sound.

NASCAR stands for the National
Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. A
stock car has a body similar to a passenger car
in stock at a regular car dealership.
There are about 1,500 NASCAR races
each year. They take place at about 100 tracks
in 30 states, Canada and Mexico.
Many scientists and engineers* work on race
teams. It is impossible to win a NASCAR race
and stay safe without using math and science.

Energy

Energy is the ability to do work or make
something happen. There are different forms of
energy. A moving car has motion energy. The
faster a car is going, the more energy it has.
When a crash stops a car suddenly, all this
energy has to go somewhere.
In a crash, there is very little time to spread
the energy around. A lot of energy hitting at
once can crumple the car.
No one wants that energy to crumple the
driver, too. So engineers for NASCAR and
passenger vehicles have designed cars so that
energy is spread around the car rather than
into the driver.
* An engineer is someone who uses science
and math to design something.

Friction

When two things move against each other,
there is friction. Friction is a force that can
slow or stop the movement.
In racing, friction is both good and bad.
It’s good because you can’t go fast unless you
have a lot of friction between the car and
the track. Without friction, it would be like
driving on ice. There wouldn’t be enough grip
on the tires. Friction also helps the car stop
when the driver puts on the brakes.
NASCAR tires grip the road much better
than
tires on
passenger
cars.
NASCAR
tires are
softer and
are totally
smooth
A pit crew changes a tire during a
because
they have NASCAR race.
no treads.
But friction can be bad because it creates
heat. For example, when you rub your hands
together, friction makes them warm. The
friction of tires against the track causes a lot of
heat, which can destroy the tires.

photo courtesy U.S. Army

What’s NASCAR?

Resources
On the Web:
• nascar.com

At the library:

• “The Math of NASCAR” by Ian F.
Mahaney

The Mini Page® © 2020 Andrews McMeel Syndication

Try ’n’ Find

Mini Jokes

Words that remind us of NASCAR are hidden in this
puzzle. Some words are hidden backward or diagonally,
and some letters are used twice. See if you can find:
CAGE, CRASH, CRUSH,
DRIVER, ENERGY,
ENGINEER, FRICTION,
MOTION, NASCAR,
RACING, SAFETY,
SCIENCE, SPEED,
STOCK, SUIT, TIRES,
TRACK, TUBING, ZONE.

C
S
H
Y
T
T
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E
S

U
B
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T
U
Z
Z
O
N
E

H
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B
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V
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X
J

S
M
R
F
I
D
O
C
P
K

R
O
C
A
N
S
F
N
R
Y

A
T
Z
S
G
T
R
E
A
G

C
I
I
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A
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I
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R

I
O
H
E
S
C
C
C
S
E

N
N
S
E
D
K
T
S
A
N

Ned: What happens to
old tires?
Nancy: They retire!

G
N
A
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E

W
U
R
I
E
G
O
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U
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R
B
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P
A
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S

L
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Z
K
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V
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D
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I
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K
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A
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T
S

Eco Note
During the COVID-19
pandemic, many people have lost jobs,
making it harder to pay for food. It’s a
good idea at anytime, though, to think
about cutting down on food waste. How
can you help? Help cook and eat foods
you already have on hand, including
leftovers. Vegetables that are not quite
perfect can be used in soups and sauces.
Freeze foods you won’t be able to
prepare right away for use later. Make a
list at home so you won’t buy foods you
already have.

You’ll need:
• 1 1/2 cups water
• 1/2 cup couscous (whole-wheat or
regular)
• Sprinkle of salt
• 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped

• 1/4 cup dried
cranberries
• 1/2 cup chickpeas
(garbanzo beans)
• 2 tablespoon orange juice
• 2 tablespoons sliced almonds

What to do:
1. Bring water to boil. Add couscous and stir. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2
minutes. Remove from heat. Allow to stand for 5 minutes to absorb all water.
2. Fluff couscous with fork; sprinkle with salt to taste.
3. Add dried fruit, chickpeas and orange juice; stir gently.
4. Top with sliced almonds. Makes 4 servings.

adapted from EPA.gov

The Mini Page® © 2020 Andrews McMeel Syndication

Kooky Couscous

* You’ll need an adult’s help with this recipe.

Cook’s Corner

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On Most Makes and Models
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