Lab 500

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Lab 500: Stock Car Racer

1 Objective

The experimental objective of this lab is to build a fully functional NASCAR Nextel Cup stock car racer. We will then enter this racer into two races: the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway and the DirecTV 500 at Martinsville Speedway. As the names imply, the Daytona 500 is a very high speed race on a large track, while the DirecTV 500 is on a short track where the laps are shorter, and there are many more of them. This shows a race car's overall performance.

2 Overview

NASCAR is the world's premiere organization for stock car racing. There are several different kinds of automobile racing. For example, the Indy 500, run on Memorial Day weekend, has entries which are "Indy Cars", subject to a large set of complicated rules. NASCAR races cars that look similar to the cars in showrooms. Originally NASCAR raced cars you could buy directly out of the dealer's stock, hence the name stock cars. As times changed, the rules were relaxed, so that now NASCAR cars have little resemblance to the ones we can buy. NASCAR is actually a very large organization that sponsors races locally, all the way up to international races. At the very top, there are two major divisions: the Busch Grand National Division, and the Nextel Cup Division. The major difference between the two divisions is how much horsepower the car can have, with Nextel Cup cars having the most power (and also the higher speeds). In orde4 to handle the additional horsepower, other modifications are also allowed, such as a stronger suspension.

The Daytona 500 is, one of the most famous automobile races. It is usually run in February, and kicks off the NASCAR racing season, which runs until November. It typical draws crowds of 150,000 people or more from around the world. The Daytona track is large, approximately 2½  miles long,  and average speeds of over 180 miles an hour are not unusual. Unfortunately, given the high speeds and competitive nature of the drivers, accidents are not unusual either, so the overall average speed for a race is lower.

The Martinsville track is much different. It is only about ½ long, so there are a very large number of laps for the same distance, compared to Daytona. Also, the turns are much sharper and the roadbed is much narrower. As a result, average speeds are much slower, and accidents are much more common.

For all NASCAR races, there are 43 cars competing in the race. Since we're going to enter two races, there will be 86 competitors.

For Daytona a powerful car with good aerodynamic qualities is required. For Martinsville, a more maneuverable car is much more important. Real race teams have a number of cars, and use different cars for each race, customized to the characteristics of that race. As a new team, we don't have the kind of financial support those teams have, and can only afford one car.

This car will have two have balanced characteristics. It will have to do well at both Daytona and Martinsville, but will also have to be cost effective since our team sponsors are thrifty. In order to achieve these goals, we'll use a Car Competition Ratio to determine which car has the best characteristics. The Car Competition Ratio is defined as:

Lab500 1.gif

The cost will be calculated using the actual costs incurred in building the car, not including labor. The places are where you placed in each race. Note that with this formula, the higher the cost and the higher the finishing times, the lower your ratio will be.

Each team in the class will built a Nextel Cup car and enter it in these two races. Their race times will be recorded, their cost calculated, and the overall Car Competition Ratios will be calculated. The team with the highest Car Competition Ratio will win the competition, and will have the usual competition bonuses awarded, as described elsewhere in the online manual. Note that if your car doesn't finish, either due to a failure or an accident, your finishing place will be poor (typically 30 or higher), and your ratio will not be good.

3 Your Assignment

Team Lab Report

Note: Since this lab is a competition, you will be writing a team lab report rather than an individual one. See the Team Authoring Strategies page in the Technical Communication of this online manual for guidance of how to do this.

You and your partner are to design a boom. The boom is to be secured (i.e., anchored) to the white plastic anchorage provided at the front of the lab. The boom must extend at least 1.5 m from the front edge of the anchorage and deflect as little as possible when loaded.

Follow the lab report guidelines laid out in the page called Specifications for Writing Your Lab Reports in the Technical Communication section of this manual. As you write, the following discussion points should be addressed in the appropriate section of your lab report:

  • Describe the rules of the competition in your introduction. What consequences did the rules have for your design decisions?
  • What factors did you consider in designing your car? Did you use any of the background information?
  • What was the competition ratio for your design?
  • What important design characteristics should a winning car include to achieve the highest possible ratio?
  • Discuss design improvements. How would you optimize the design?

PowerPoint Presentation (Team Presentation)

  • Describe the rules of the competition in your introduction. What consequences did the rules have for your design decisions? Use the appropriate equations in your answer.
  • Since one term in the competition ratio is cost, present the cost of your car. Use the page How to Show Cost Data in Presentations for instructions on how to do this.
  • Discuss minimal design. Did you use all the materials you purchased? Describe the importance of minimal design and explain how you employed it in your design.
  • Describe your car's design. Show the order of finish for each race to show how you placed. Make sure you include a discussion of the materials you chose and why. Explain your team's strategy for winning the competition.
  • Describe how your design succeeded or failed. What choices could you have made to improve your final standing in the competition?
  • Discuss how you would improve the ratio.

Follow the presentation guidelines laid out in the page called EG1004 Lab Presentation Format in the Introduction to Technical Presentations section of this manual.


Due to financial constraints, you can use any materials you wish, but will have to buy them yourself. The University will not be providing any materials.

If you wish, you can persuade or coerce individuals or organizations to contribute to your team. Any criminal activity (e.g. extortion, threats, etc.) will not be tolerated, and will disqualify your team. It may also lead to a visit from NYPD or the FBI, followed by a long stay as a guest of one of these agencies.


Your car has to fit within the design constraints for a Nextel Cup racing car under NASCAR rules. You can visit the Web site for a description of these rules. If you are disqualified by NASCAR for a rules violation, you will also be disqualified from the EG1004 competition.

All materials you buy must be included in the cost of the design, whether the material is used or not.

Note that for a NASCAR Nextel Cup race, your car will have to qualify for each race. Failure to qualify for either race will disqualify you from the EG1004 competition.

As outlined earlier, the car having the highest Car Competition Ratio will win the EG1004 competition for this lab.


  1. Read the NASCAR rules
  2. Design a car that follows the NASCAR rules
  3. Enter the car in the Daytona 500, to be held February 18, 2007.
  4. Choose a member from your team to compete with some of the best drivers in the world for the qualification and the race itself. Note: Make sure their insurance is paid up, and that the usual NYU School of Engineering student insurance may not be sufficient for this activity. Compete in the race.
  5. After the Daytona 500, repair any damage the car experienced and move to Martinsville.
  6. Enter the car in the DirecTV 500, to be held April 1, 2007.
  7. Choose a member of your team to be the car driver. Make sure once again their insurance is paid. Compete in the race.
  8. Calculate the Car Competition Ration based on your cost and finish positions. If your car did not come in first, your work is complete. Make sure your lab position is cleaned up, including any jacks, spare parts, grease, oil, etc.
  9. If you won the competition, repair any damage the car experienced in Martinsville and prepare to have the car put on display in the Front Lobby. Once the car is ready, clean up your lab position, as described above.

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