downforce racing

The variables for this downforce formula are found at end of article.

Downforce is a downward thrust created by the aerodynamic properties of the vehicle…lift is the opposite of downforce and most notably seen in the physics of airplane flight.  Aerodynamic grip is created by the flow of air over the car.  Mechanical grip is a function of car mass, tires, and suspension.  These two elements (aerodynamic and mechnical grip), combined with gravity, are keys to making the drag racing car’s trip down the track as efficient as possible.

While downforce principles are heavily used in racing (and heavily regulated by governing bodies), the funny car, based upon stock OEM body styles (at least on the surface), can present considerable obstacles to maximizing effective downforce…the wedge-like shape of many funny cars is an attempt to maximize downforce effectively.


  • D is downforce in newtons
  • WS is wingspan in metres
  • H is height in metres
  • AoA is angle of attack
  • F is drag coefficient
  • ρ is air density in kg/m³
  • V is velocity in m/s