Aerodynamics is a branch of racing dynamics that deals with the motion of air across the race car body and the pressures exerted on it while the car is in motion. We now know much more about how aero creates downforce. We use that knowledge to construct our cars so that we can take advantage of higher amounts of downforce to add load to the tires without adding weight to the car.

Stock cars often top 100 mph, even on the shortest racetracks. Even at the legal speed limit of 70 mph on the highway, we can stick our hand out of the window and feel the tremendous force of the rush of air. When we harness this force, we improve the way our cars grip the surface of the racetrack.

Thermodynamics is an area of physics that deals with the mechanical action or relations of heat. Smokey developed an extremely high degree of knowledge of thermodynamics and could converse with the best Ph.D.s around. He helped develop advanced methods and technology related to the internal combustion engine within a small and underfinanced shop in Daytona Beach, Florida. It was referred to as his "inner sanctum" because when he was on a quest, he became completely absorbed in the work. We may never find a better example of a racing scientist.

The racing engine, as I learned in my thermodynamics class, is merely a heat exchange device that converts heat into energy. The more efficiently we can cause this exchange, the more energy we can produce, which is measured in our engines as horsepower and torque. When we tune the spark advance timing or carburetor air/fuel ratio, we are refining the process of heat exchange.

Outside the engine compartment, the brakes are heat generators, too. The brakes on our cars convert energy to heat to help stop the car. Excessive heat is not desirable and can cause the brakes to fail. The disc brake system was incorporated into many race car designs to overcome deficiencies in the older production drum brake systems.

Along with that change, we have developed better compounds for use in our brake pads and improved rotor designs that endure high heat and wear and are designed to help vent heat away from the pads. Racers invented brake fluid cooling systems that recirculate and cool the fluid. Along the way, there has been further development to produce more heat-resistant brake fluids.

Tire performance involves heat, too. The tires benefit from heat so they can be more compliant to the racetrack. Without heat, the various internal compounds would not work to soften the rubber to help make the tire adhere to the track. So we read the heat in the tires and use that data to tell us how efficiently the tire is working. We make changes to the setup, geometry, and air pressures largely based on these tire heat readings.

Another branch of science deals with practical applications of a liquid in motion. Our race car has several hydraulic systems. Water flows to the engine through the water pump, then out to the radiator and back. Oil flows from the oil pan or reservoir to the bearings, pistons, valves, and so on, then through a cooler and back to the engine. Brake fluids also flow from the master cylinder to the slave cylinder, or brake calipers, and absorb heat and moisture, which affects that system.

A lot of research has taken place over the years to improve the cooling of our motors, the lubrication of the engine, and the efficiency and longevity of our brake systems. When we modify our radiators, develop Water Wetter (heat-reducing liquids that can be mixed with the coolant), or regulate the rate of flow of the coolant through the radiator and motor, we are experimenting in the field of science known as hydraulics.