Sharp-tack David Ronfeldt delves into the world of stock-car racing with an article entitled Social Science at 190 MPH on NASCAR's Biggest Superspeedways posted at First Monday. Ronfeldt explores the sport from the point of view of complexity theory and social network analysis, noting that "the racers self-organise into structures that oscillate between order and chaos" as they make their turns around the track, assembling into micro-flocks to gain mutual aerodynamic advantage. A very interesting, detailed read. From the article:
This unusual interplay between competition and cooperation makes draft lines interesting for philosophic as well as sporting reasons. At races on short and medium-size tracks, where drafting cannot develop, the Darwinian struggle for ascendance is continually Hobbesian - the survival of the fittest means a war of all against all, and encounters are often nasty, brutish, and short. But at Daytona and Talladega, this struggle also turns Rousseauian - by forming drafting partnerships, the competitors cobble together patterns of cooperation that benefit them all, in the absence of a central hierarchy.