June 26th, 2014, 01:00 AM  #1 
Senior Member Joined: Oct 2013 From: Far far away Posts: 429 Thanks: 18  The racetrack shape
I'd like to know why racetracks are shaped the way the are? Like a rectangle with two semicirles capped on the widths. I can only think of nonmathematical reasons like: 1. to accommodate the rectangular football field 2. to allow for straighttrack racing events like the 100m dash etc. Are there mathematical/engineering reasons for this? Something to do with minimum area/difficulties with a rectangular or circular track/minimum material required for construction etc. By the way what is the name of this shape? Thanks 
June 26th, 2014, 03:05 AM  #2 
Member Joined: Apr 2014 From: norwich Posts: 84 Thanks: 9 
Racetracks are loops I suppose because then it's easier to accommodate for much longer distances in a constant area of ground. Racetracks could be an oval shape but then the 100m races wouldn't be straight. The fact that part of racetracks are curved means that the runners must feel an accelaration on the curved parts which means they have to put in more effort on those parts (I think) so it's actually probably inaccurate to quote a 400 metre world record as the best a human can do. SOMEONE MIGHT WANT TO CONFIRM WHETHER I'M TALKING RUBBISH AGAIN THERE. I don't know what the name for the shape of an olympic racetrack is. 
June 26th, 2014, 12:07 PM  #3 
Global Moderator Joined: May 2007 Posts: 6,788 Thanks: 708 
The track shape is called oval.

June 26th, 2014, 07:56 PM  #4 
Math Team Joined: Dec 2013 From: Colombia Posts: 7,671 Thanks: 2651 Math Focus: Mainly analysis and algebra 
The main reason is that the field events take place inside the track. Events like the javelin involve throwing something about 100m, so you need an infield at least 100m long.


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