Car Engineering and physical laws!

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I was always taught that physics was an exact science. What goes up must come down, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, similar magnetic poles repel, pressure is equally distributed in a closed vessel, the speed of light is absolute, e+mc2 and all that kind of stuff. Well, it’s not. If you ever want to disprove physics as a science, then buy a race car. They do not obey physical laws.

You want an example? My perfectly good race car had performed perfectly all day. For the last event, I drove it down to the marshaling area to wait before going out for my race. I was about 10 minutes early, so I turned the engine off and waited for the signal to start the engine and move out onto the race track.

The ‘start engines’ board was displayed, I turned on the ignition and hit the switch, and not a cheep out of the engine. The starter motor was working, the engine was turning over, but it did not look or sound anywhere near firing. The pit crew rushed over, and they quickly checked under the bonnet. Everything was fine, all ignition wires were in place, but no spark to the plugs.

Now this was the same engine that had driven me from my pit to the marshaling area. This was ridiculous. The crew got round behind and we attempted a push start. Still it wouldn’t fire. The race started without me. I swore a lot.

We pushed it back to the pits and began to systematically replace every part of the ignition system. Eventually, with a new coil, it fired up, ready to go – but by then far too late.

So how does a working coil just suddenly ‘not work’ anymore? Especially after the ignition system had been turned off, so nothing was happening to the coil to make it malfunction. That’s some electrical law that I’ve never read about.