By Will Levith / October 2, 2017

Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Physics Behind NASCAR

Astrophysicist calculates the maximum speed in turns at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Physics of NASCAR
(Mashable)

If you were one of the millions of viewers who caught astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s homage to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos on TV back in 2014, you might have been surprised that during one airing, the show was preempted by NASCAR.

Of course, deGrasse Tyson was having none of that, so he started tweeting about the car racing circuit’s relationship to physics. From looking at some of his tweets, it appears the astrophysicist had a little more fun with the NASCAR concept than he probably assumed he would.


In a recent episode of his StarTalk podcast via Mashable, deGrasse Tyson reflected on the above NASCAR tweet, explaining it even further: “If you go faster than that, you’re not going to stay connected to the road, and you hit the embankment.”

He does note that you could drive faster going into the turn, but not at the exact moment you hit the turn. That would need to be 165 mph.

All of this, of course, has to take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway, too, as each race course has different degrees of banked turns.

Read two more of his NASCAR-related tweets from 2014 below.