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Drifting


jcstack6

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By far the coolest thing you could do with a car is drift, but most people don't know the specifics behind drifting and how much physics is embedded in drifting. When someone drifts, they turn the car abruptly and then turn the wheel in the opposite direction they want to turn. This action, however, however seems counterproductive. Why would turning the opposite direction move the car in the intended direction? To answer this question, you need to know the nature of friction and Newton's laws. When the car begins to move sideways, the only force acting on the car is the force of friction from the pavement on the wheels of the car. This force makes the car slow down, since net force is equal to mass x acceleration, and the force of friction is the only force acting on the car.  But why would friction change the direction of the car? The answer to this lies in the concept of centripetal forces. Centripetal forces are forces that are center seeking and cause an object to move in a circle around a point. Therefore, when the wheel is turned in one direction, this causes the force of friction applied on the wheels of the car to become a centripetal force, causing the car to move in the intended direction rather than the direction that the wheel is turned in. All of this considered, drifting in a grass field is definitely a thrilling activity, even if you don't know all the physics behind the movement of your car. 

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Why can top heavy cars not always drift very easily? I've always wondered why people always drift in smaller cars and not bigger mini vans. Will top heavy cars fall over if you try to drift in one of them?

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