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The Physics of Go-Karts

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Julia G

on 12 June 2015

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Transcript of The Physics of Go-Karts

The Physics of Go-Karts
Experiment 2: Friction with Negative Acceleration
Methods of Research
Books about motion (
The Laws of Motion: Understanding Uniform and Accelerated Motion
by Betty Burnett and
The Physics of Superheroes
by James Kakalios)
In Summary
The conditions that are optimal for maximizing go-kart speed are:
by Julia Gasior and Brendan Biles
AP Physics Period 3
Go-karting is a type of motor racing using small, open, four-wheeled vehicles. They can be motorless or run on very powerful engines, some even able to beat professional race cars on long circuits.
A Brief History of Go-Karts
Art Ingels is considered to be the father of go-karting. He built the first go-kart in California in 1956.
Books about go-karts (
Kart Driving Techniques
by Jim Hall II and Steve Smith and
Go Kart Racing - A Complete Guide to Setting Up a Winning Kart Chassis
by Brian Martin)
Field experiments (test driving the go-karts at Arnold's Family Fun Center in Oaks, PA, interviews with go-kart specialists)
Experiment 1: Friction with Positive Acceleration
Experiment 4: Centripetal Force
Experiment 3: Mass
surface with greater friction
smaller mass of driver
turns with larger radii
Question 1
What is the formula for momentum?
a. velocity / time
b. velocity x time
c. acceleration / mass
d. acceleration x mass
e. mass x velocity
f. mass x mass
answer: e
momentum = mass x velocity
Question 2
Which surface has the highest coefficient of friction?
a. dry asphalt
b. wet asphalt
c. dry grass
d. wet grass
e. dirt
f. snow
answer: a
dry asphalt has the highest coefficient of friction
Question 3
A go-kart starts from rest and, in 15 seconds, reaches a speed of 35 m/s. What is its acceleration?
a. 2.0 m/s^2
b. 2.2 m/s^2
c. 2.3 m/s^2
d. 2.33 m/s^2
e. 2.333 m/s^2
f. 9.8 m/s^2
answer: c
2.3 m/s^2
Question 4
Which angle negatively affects the speed of the cart most?
a. 90 degrees
b. 120 degrees
c. 135 degrees
d. 150 degrees
e. 180 degrees
f. 360 degrees
answer: a
90 degrees
Question 5
Who was the father of go-karting?
a. Art Angels
b. Art Engels
c. Art Engles
d. Art Ingels
e. Art Ingles
f. Art English
answer: d
Art Ingels
Go-karting in an internationally recognized sport, with its own regulations and championships. Many countries have national go-karting teams, and, in the United States, the World Karting Association (WKA) and the International Karting Federation (IKF) sponsor and organize events.
types of pro karts:
Sprint Karts
the most frequently used
able to go fast and be driven on different types of tracks
Oval karts
commonly used in the southern United States
driven primarily on oval tracks (like NASCAR)
optimized for turns in just one direction
Enduro karts
smallest division in go kart racing
fastest type (average 90 mph)
drivers lie down flat in their karts to minimize air resistance
some have two engines
types of tracks:
Paved track
most common type of track
typically 0.25 - 0.5 miles with left and right turns
drivers need to complete 10-15 laps per race
Oval track
used with oval karts
typically 0.1 - 0.25 miles
can be soft dirt, packed clay, sand, or asphalt
Enduro track
used for Enduro racing
like the Daytona International Speedway
types of amateur karts:
can reach speeds up to 60 mph
made for driving over sand dunes
Trail go karts
cross between buggies and yard go karts
reach speeds up to 35-40 mph
not as powerful as buggies
Yard karts
most basic and most common type
designed for kids
some only go up to 15 mph
Important Physical Phenomena
Apex line
Important Physical Phenomena
velocity = displacement / time
When approaching a turn, a kart will travel in an arc through a midpoint called the apex or clipping point
The apex is on the inside of the track, and the kart must start on the outside, go inside, then cross over to the outside of the track again
The late apex line (green) allows the driver to brake later into the turn and return to driving full throttle sooner, spending more time in straightaways than in a turn.
Essentially making the widest turn possible
Apex Line Theory
Purpose of Research
Our goal for this research project was to find the optimum conditions in which one could drive a go-kart.
Velocity is the most important physics phenomenon to go-karting. In order to complete a race in the least time, a go-karter must have all of the right velocities at the right times.
acceleration = velocity / time
Friction is the propelling force of any car's motion, and as such friction is vital to speeding up, slowing down, and turning.
Traction Circle Theory
represents the total traction capability of all four tires on a go-kart
radius of the friction circle is the limit of traction in any direction
a radius at 90 degrees means that all of the available traction is being used for acceleration
a radius at 0 or 180 degrees means 100% lateral acceleration (cornering) to either direction
a radius which falls anywhere in between means a combination of forces in two directions
Go karting application of the friction circle
As the kart enters the turn, most of the traction is being used for braking, which lessens as the kart reaches the apex.
At the apex, the kart has 100% lateral acceleration to the right.
After the apex, the driver hits the gas, and the kart has less and less lateral acceleration as it gradually moves to a straightaway out of the turn.
purpose: to test the effects of different surfaces on the positive acceleration of a go kart
The optimal surface for positive go-kart acceleration is asphalt.

Go kart tires are different from regular car tires; they're flatter and more simple, and don't have the traction to drive on surfaces with low coefficients of friction.

High friction between vehicle tires and the surface they are driving on are conducive to faster and more stable driving.
Regarless of direction of motion, surfaces with greater friction have greater potential for acceleration.

This means that any turn or adjustment, along with standard acceleration and deceleration, would be most successful on dry asphalt.
Just as the coefficient of friction of the surface on which one drives affects the vehicle's capacity for acceleration, the mass of the passenger also affects the vehicle's capacity for acceleration.

Friction drives acceleration, so it can be inferred from the formula for the force of friction (Ff=μN) that with greater mass comes smaller acceleration.
purpose: to test the effect of centripetal force of the motion of a go-kart (aka the apex line theory)
This experiment proved the efficiency of the apex line theory. The closer the turn is to 0 degrees, the less deceleration is required to maintain the go-kart's forward motion. This has to do with spinning out on a turn, which Brendan will attempt to explain on the board.
Go karts vs malls
Go kart vs Ferrari
Go kart fails
Acceleration is obviously another important physical concept involved in go-karting, but's more important than just speeding up and slowing down. It is also important in turning.
method: essentially we drag raced 100 meters with a go-kart on these surfaces:
dry asphalt
wet asphalt
dry grass
wet grass
purpose: the inverse of experiment 1; we wanted to also test the effects of different surfaces on negative acceleration.
method: we accelerated the go-kart until it reached a constant speed on each surface and recorded the time it would take to decelerate to zero.
purpose: test the effect of the mass of the go-kart on the acceleration of the go-kart.
method: drag race the go-kart on asphalt for 100 meters with various mases in the passenger seat.
method: measure turns of a consistant distance and of varying angles, then race around them and record the time it takes to do so.
acceleration = velocity^2 / radius
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