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With Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, author of The Physics of NASCAR


Many people think science is irrelevant to their daily lives. This week's guest has a surprise for them.

A group of racecars piloted by the best drivers in NASCAR is turning a corner. Without warning, one of the cars suddenly hits the outside wall. None of the cars touched, there were no engine failures or flat tires. What happened?

This is the question that sparked Diandra Leslie-Pelecky’s interest in the science of NASCAR. Finding the answers to this and other questions took the University of Nebraska, Lincoln professor from behind the scenes at top race shops to the asphalt at Texas Motor Speedway. With exclusive access to the inner workings of NASCAR teams, she brings the science of NASCAR to fans using engaging, high-octane prose.

Diandra Leslie-Pelecky is Professor of Physics at the University of Texas at Dallas and a nationally recognized researcher in magnetic nanomaterials. Her work focuses on a fundamental understanding of magnetic materials and the application of those materials to medical diagnosis and treatment.

Professor Leslie-Pelecky is nationally recognized for her work in science education for K-12 schools, future science teachers, and the public. She has directed educational projects funded in excess of $4 million and is developing materials on NASCAR science for middle and high schools.  

Professor Leslie-Pelecky is married to physicist and educator Robert Hilborn. Although they remain officially neutral, their two cats, Chaos and Vector, cheer for the 22 car. Their dog, Darwin (a hound dog mutt) is an Elliott Sadler fan.

Please join Diandra Leslie-Pelecky and Paula B. as they explore:

  • Why anyone should care about the physics of auto racing
  • What kinds of science she covers
  • Why she inserted herself into the book
  • How she keeps readers engaged
  • How she documented everything she saw as she did her research
  • How it felt to drive a race car
  • Whether she financed her own travel
  • How being on the front page of The New York Times has changed her life.

Interviewee: Diandra Leslie-Pelecky
Host: Paula B.
Date: June 22, 2008
Running time: 59:35
File size: 28 megabytes
Rating: G
Diandra Leslie-Pelecky's Web site: Stock Car Science

Purchase Diandra's book at