Physics for Gearheads


An Introduction to Vehicle Dynamics, Energy and Power

physics for gearheadsAs gearheads most of us possess a relatively keen understanding of how automotive systems function. We came by it largely through observation and examination of the various parts and assemblies along with word-of-mouth explanations from friends, mechanics, books and various other resources. Some functions and processes seem relatively intuitive on the surface, but there are solid scientific reasons and explanations for all of them. A new reference book, Physics for Gearheads by Randy Beikmann PhD. provides the detailed explanations you need to fully understand the intricate mechanical functions of high performance automobiles and race cars.

"There is no better way to learn physics than by having a difficult problem to solve."

Diehard gearheads enjoy a hidden advantage when it comes to understanding physics because the magic of it is revealed and demonstrated to them every day in their jobs, projects and even motorsports events. The experience you already have building and tuning cars or motorcycles is equivalent to your own personal Physics 101 lab. Physics for Gearheads completes the course by explaining the basic physics behind the automotive functions you already deal with every day.

physics for gearheadsWhether your interest is in increasing your engine's horsepower, getting more miles per gallon, or shaving tenths off your lap time on a track day, you can use physics to understand the problems and determine the most effective solutions. Physics for Gearheads not only explains physics principles in a language you can understand, but it also demonstrates how to use physics to your advantage to increase your car's performance and even improve your driving skills for racing.

Physics for Gearheads allows the reader to work in SI or British Engineering units so those unfamiliar with the metric system can follow easily and slowly incorporate it into their knowledge base. The accompanying list of chapters sounds daunting at first, but it simply describes physical functions and properties that apply to all your performance requirements. Some of it will require you to think a little harder, but it becomes almost second nature as the author reveals the scientific principles that govern everything you do.

Engine guys will appreciate the wealth of formulas and equations defining critical functions such as mean piston speed and acceleration and the effects of rod ratio on power and torque production. The underlying greatness of this book is seen in the simple explanations of complex subjects and concepts and how to incorporate simple basic math to describe your own problems and derive effective solutions.

physics for gearheadsThe book describes how and why your car runs, makes power, accelerates, corners and brakes under varying road conditions including the race track. It presents specific formulas for the "ideal drag racer" to apply in the pursuit of lower ET's and higher trap speeds. It thoroughly dissects the mechanics of road racing and oval track performance based on statics, center of gravity, weight distribution and load transfer.

There are 17 chapters and more than 600 pages describing every aspect of vehicle dynamics and motion, force and vectors and all the core science that makes a car perform. Multiple appendixes, an in-depth glossary and detailed index permit quick navigation to the topic of your choice. This book is destined to become the new bible of performance engineering for the regular guy. You will refer to it over and over again and it will likely become thoroughly dog-eared addition to the rule books and cam cards in the top of your toolbox. The author's style is engaging without the intimidation that often accompanies a read of this nature.

physics for gearheadsChapters

1. A Warm-Up Lap
2. Kinematics Basics
3. Kinematics Applications
4. Dynamics Basics
5. Forces
6. Dynamics Applications
7. Torque, Force Resolution, and 2-D Vectors
8. Angular Dynamics Basics
9. Angular Dynamics Applications
10. Dynamics in a Plane Basics
11. Dynamics in a Plane Applications
12. Energy Basics
13. Energy Applications
14. Power Basics
15. Power Applications
16. Statics and Quasi-Statics Basics
17. Statics and Quasi-Statics Applications

This book is a "Must Read" for every gearhead, car guy and performance enthusiast.


About the Author

Randy Beikmann is an automotive engineer working at the top of the industry. And he loves physics. Through his masterful teaching, physics doesn't look foreign - it looks like common sense. Randy holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan. He is a technical specialist in automotive noise and vibration at the General Motors Milford Proving Ground, where he has worked since 1983. He has published numerous papers on power­train noise and vibration and has helped design and teach classes at GM within his engineering specialty. He currently holds three patents.
  • Paperback: 604 pages
  • Publisher: Bentley Publishers (March, 2015)
  • ISBN-10: 0837616158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0837616155