Wind Resistance

An experiment about wind resistance.

We’ve all seen cars that have been built with an aerodynamic taper, presumably to reduce wind resistance. But how important is this REALLY? After all, a pinewood derby race car hardly moves at racetrack speeds. In this section, we perform an experiment where we vary the aerodynamic properties of a pinewood derby race car, and measure the effects on the car’s speed. We show you how to conduct a simple experiment at home to illustrate the effects of aerodynamics on a car’s speed.
A picture of two cars with very different aerodynamics.
A plot showing run time versus cross-sectional area.
A picture of our test car made aerodynamic.