Those dang rules, getting in the way again! This time, we’re showing you all of the coolest cars that have been banned from motorsports, and why. The following are either too fast, too dangerous or some combination of both. Check out the reasons for each, some will definitely surprise you. Enjoy!
Sneaky Pete Robinson’s Jumping Jack Dragster
“Sneaky” Pete Robinson is a drag racing legend. He had a tendency for lightening his cars however possible. In 1962, Robinson modified his slingshot dragster with a lever attached to the folding jack stands that allowed the rear of the vehicle to rise off the ground. He claimed the purpose was for a consistent launch control. The NHRA immediately banned Robinson’s Jumping Jack system on the spot after one use at an NHRA-sanctioned pass at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Design Engineer Colin Chapman envisioned the Caterham 7 to be a race car from the start. The vehicle was based on the lightweight sports car, the Lotus Seven, with a modified chassis. Lotus Sevens were sold in kits from 1957 to 1972. After Lotus ended production, Caterham bought the rights to the design. The vehicles initially used a 1.55-liter Lotus-Ford Twin Engine and then Rover K-Series engines beginning in 1991 until the Rover and Powertrains closure. Caterham has used other engine manufactures since then. The car has a rich racing legacy all over the world. In the U.S., however, it was banned in the 1960s, being dubbed “too fast to race.” It also was barred from U.K. races in the 1970s. Taking advantage of the situation, Caterham Cars boss Graham Nearn put out T-shirts that said: “Caterham Seven, the Car That’s Too Fast to Race.” The bans were eventually repealed. The dispute over the car’s speed was not over yet. In 2002, an R400 won its class by over ten laps at the Nürburgring 24 hour race, where it was subsequently prohibited. Wow, and here we thought races were about fast cars.
1967 Penske Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
Racer Mark Donohue, Jr. and Roger Penske tested acid baths on their cars and found out it ate small amounts of metal, making the vehicle substantially lighter. The 1967 Penske Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 won its final race, lapping almost every car. Concerned race stewards conducted a post-race inspection and unveiled that the Camaro was 250 pounds lighter than the required minimum of 2,800 pounds. They still gave Donohue the victory after a Penske warned he would pull out Chevrolet support for the Trans-Am series. From then on, Trans Am weighed all the cars before the start of the race and forbade all lightweight vehicles. These rules did not stop Donohue. He snuck his 1967 Camaro again in the next season and disguised it as a 1968 model. Essentially, he used a real 1968 model for inspection then swapped it with his 1967 Camaro with an altered grille and headlight for the race.
Smokey Yunick’s 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle
Smokey Yunick is almost a mythological figure. He piloted a B-17 Flying Fortress titled “Smokey and his Firemen” in World War II and participated in 50 missions over Europe. When he returned he opened his own garage at Daytona Beach. His driving team went on to win the 1951 and 1953 NASCAR Championships. His car also placed in first at the Indianapolis 500 in 1960. Yunick is the kind of guy who says, as reported by the Daily Sports Car, when it comes to rules, “if they didn’t say you couldn’t, I thought it was fair game,” resulting in him modifying his cars just in the realm of restrictions. For the Daytona 500, he teamed up with Chevrolet and worked tirelessly perfecting a 1967 Chevelle. He tried to illustrate to NASCAR officials that his Chevelle fit the guidelines set by the 1968 rulebook. Ultimately it failed their test resulting in Yunick driving away. He never participated in NASCAR again.
1968 Lotus 56
Team Lotus began experimenting with gas turbine engines after watching STP performance in 1967 Indy 500. STP did not win due to a failed ball bearing, but the effort was impressive. Lotus team developed the 1968 Lotus 56 fitted with a gasoline-powered turbine engine from Pratt & Whitney. For turbine engines to “fairly” compete with piston-powered cars, the U.S. Auto Club forced turbine drivers to reduce their air intake by 35 percent. The vehicle also included four-wheel drive. In the 1968 Indy 500, Lotus brought three cars. One broke down, and the second one crashed. The last vehicle, driven by Joe Leonard, hit 171.559 mph, qualifying the Lotus56. During the race, Lotus led the final laps until a fuel pump failure. The car did not win anything, and turbine engines, as well as four-wheel drive, were subsequently banned. At least the Hot Wheels toy of car sold very well.
1969 Dodge Daytona/1970 Plymouth Superbird
Chrysler produced the Dodge Daytona in 1969 and the Plymouth Superbird in 1970. Both Mopar aero cars had wings built to compete in NASCAR. Their chief rival was a Ford Torino Talladega, built-in direct response to the Mopar aero car. A plausible factor for the manufacturing of the Plymouth Supercar was Richard Petty. He was a NASCAR driver for Plymouth, who requested that the brand build a similar design to the Daytona. After Plymouth said they would not deliver, he raced for Ford the following year. The Superbird might have been a way to draw him back. After going through several designs to meet NASCAR regulations as well as fasts speeds, the Superbird performed very well. It won eight races and placed high in the rankings. NASCAR limited aerodynamic cars in 1971 season with officials believing its high speeds were too dangerous, and the wings and pointy nose didn’t share the look of other stock cars. These appearances, as of 2020, have not returned to NASCAR. So, in other words, they pretty much banned them.
1970 Chaparral 2J
Okay, this one is bizarre. Racecar constructor Jim Hall helped design the Chaparral 2J for the 1970 Cam-Am series. It had a 2nd engine in the rear with two 17-inch fans that took in the air from under the car and pushed it out, creating a vacuum effect that sucked the car on the track’s surface. It ran the fastest lap in its first race at Wakins Glen, New York, granting it a pole position in all other races. The vehicle was plagued with technical problems, and other racers argued it had moveable aerodynamic devices which were against the rules. The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) eventually labeled the vehicle as having an aerodynamic device despite initially approving it and disqualified it. Hall was frustrated with the decision. It was not the first time his cars got banned, and he kept reworking them to try to meet regulations. Hall says he would have dominated the Cam-Am series if the 2J was allowed.
1973 Porsche 917/30
This was a stunning vehicle race fans. The Chaparral 2E was one of the most powerful (some would argue most powerful) sport racing cars ever manufactured. Developed at Porsche, the Chapparal 2E contained a twin-turbocharged engine with 5.14 liter, which helped it reach 1100-1580 horsepower contingent on how it was tuned. Wow! The car, driven by the same Mark Donohue mentioned in the previous slide, dominated the 1973 Can-Am Championship. The Chaparral also brought home 2nd place in the Mid-Ohio, driven by Brian Redman. For the 1974 season, Can-Am’s inflicted fuel limits on turbochargers forcing Penske and Porsche to withdraw from the race.
1978 Brabham BT46B
Brabham BT46B was a Formula One racing car built for the Brabham team owned by Bernie Ecclestone. Gordon Murray designed the vehicle to feature a flat-12 Alfa Romeo engine and flat-panel heat exchangers, which created over-heating problems. Consultant engineer David Cox showed concern with the issue and came up with unique ways to help fix it, mainly the fan. At the time, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) had rules against “moveable aerodynamic devices.” Still, Cox’s loophole fit within the guidelines since the fan was designed primarily for cooling purposes to draw air with a horizontally mounted radiator over the engine (though it still created a massive amount of downforce). The “B” variant made its debut at the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix and won. Ecclestone pulled the car from succeeding races, despite the FIA approving it for the remainder of the season. Murray stated that since Ecclestone was an executive of Formula One Constructors’ Association (FOCA), he felt that rivals team’s concerns over fan cars threatened competitiveness and they would dissolve the organization. Soon after Ecclestone’s withdrawal, Commission Sportive Internationale banned all fan cars from ever racing in Formula One again. The Brabham BT46B ran one more time in the 1979 Gunnar Nilsson Trophy race at Donington Park to help raise cancer funds. It was allowed since FIA sanctions did not apply to this race.
Group B Rally Cars
Okay, most of these on the list are frustrating because we like fast cars. The more powerful, the better, but we can get behind the decision to get rid of Group B Rally Cars. Despite reaching impressive speeds of 500 horsepower, which quickly allowed the vehicles to go over 100 mph, the issue was these races were held on public streets, dirt roads, and other trails where rally fans could spectate on the side. After a series of accidents (sometimes lethal) and lack of crowd control, FIA introduced new safety regulations in 1982.
1984 Chevrolet C4 Corvette
If you know us, you’ll know we are huge fans of the Corvette brand. The 1984 Chevrolet C4 Corvette left the racing scene astounded. The vehicles dominated every race it was in and won all in the SCCA Series for 4 years. The car was an engineering marvel with its aerodynamic body, rigid suspension and high horsepower V8 engine. After a substantial backlash and pressure from competitors such as Lotus and Porsche, the SCCA banned them from competitions at the end of the 1987 season. Despite this ruling, the Corvette was down but not out. The SCCA formed the “Corvette Challenge,” where only Corvettes could compete against each other. The challenge ran from 1988 to 1989. In 1990, the Corvette was re-admitted into the World Challenge.
WRC Toyota Celica GT-Four
In 1988, Toyota began racing the World Rally Championship (WRC) Celica GT-Four. In the 1989 Rally Australia, it won its first race. In 1995, due to safety concerns, the FIA mandated that vehicles’ turbocharges required restrictor plates. These plates limited airflow into the engine, thus slowing the output. When the car reached higher speeds, Toyota engineers discovered a way for the plate to move out of the way. Once the FIA found out, they banned the vehicle.
IMSA Consulier GTP
Well, this is a travesty if I’ve ever seen one. The Warren Mosler’s Consulier GTP was conceived in 1985 and had a successful six-year run in IMSA racing. The vehicle contained a Dodge turbocharged 2.2-liter K-Car engine and had a fantastic power to weight ratio. It beat out name-brand cards such as the Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette and the Porsche 911. IMSA eventually slapped the Consulier with a 300-pound weight penalty and banned it from 1991 races altogether. One argument levied toward the car was it was not a vehicle that the public generally saw.
1992 Williams FW14B
The Williams FW14 was a Formula One car created by the Williams Grand Prix Engineering team and developed by Adrian Newey. It made its debut in the 1991 United States Grand Prix. With the 1992 FW14B, the vehicle went under further refinement. What is prominent about the car was its advanced active suspension system, which could detect surface changes on the track. Its hydraulic system could also shift the suspension dependent on the four tires loads. The system allowed its grip corners and rise up with less slowdown. The car performed very well with Nigel Mansell & Riccardo Patrese at the wheel. Eventually, the FIA banned the vehicle in 1994 as well as the advanced active suspension system.
1992 Nissan Skyline GT-R Group A
Powered by a turbocharged straight-6 engine, the 1992 Nissan Skylines from Group A was nothing to put down. Throughout the early ’90s, the R32 Skyline GT-R ruled the Australian circuits, but crocky, the FIA banned them at the end of 1992. Starting in 1993, the 5.0 Litre V8 Group 3A Touring Cars became the new Australian touring vehicles.
Dauer Porsche 962
The Dauer Porsche 962 won the 1994 24 Hours of Le Mans. This victory was a big deal for Porsche since, in 1992, the World Sportscar Championship diminished the number of their cars allowed to race in motorsports due to some new technical rules. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) re-instituted production-based grand tourer-style vehicles in 1993. They unintentionally created a loophole allowing manufacturers to register car designs before they were finished making 962s built for streets now qualified to compete. Compete, they did and won. The ACO quickly changed the rules after that, which barred the Porsche 962 from further entry.
1997 Tyrrell 025
There is nothing all that remarkable about the Tyrrell 025. It utilized some technical innovations such as wishbone suspensions. What set it apart was its “X-wings.” These two wings were located on both sides of the cockpit and used for high-downforce circuits. It started a trend for other Formula One racing teams and rose safety concerns for officials in the pit lane because crew members could get stuck in them. They banned these wings in 1998, causing the Tyrrell Formula One team to revise the vehicle.
Hendrix Motorsports’ 1997 Chevrolet “T-Rex” Monte Carlo
I hear John Williams’s “Jurassic Park” theme whenever I see this car. Rex Stump, lead engineer at Hendrix Motorsport, designed it after he accepted a challenge to create the ultimate race car within NASCAR regulations. It was made to go as fast as possible and had a dinosaur-themed paint scheme to promote “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” (1997). The Chevrolet Monte Carlo participated in the 1997 All-Star Race driven by Jeff Gordon. He won with what looked like little effort. The car past inspection but was banned moving forward for its radical design and extraordinary on-track performance. Seriously? The crew chief, Ray Evernham, believes if Gordon was not driving the car, it might have remained legal since at the time Gordon was already at the height of his career and smoking the competition. The vehicle would only exacerbate his skills. As of 2020, you can see the car at the Hendrick Motorsports campus in Concord, North Carolina.
2001 BMW M3 GTR
To compete with Porsche on the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), BMW built its 2001 BMW M3 GTR. Inside, it had a 4 liter, 500hp V8 engine. At the time, they did not sell this engine in any of their cars, which did not worry the company because of ALMS’s poor wording in rules that required a certain amount of road-vehicles be manufactured. BMW put the engine only in a handful of road cars. They won 7 of the 10 ALMS rounds that year, as well as the championship, becoming 2001’s leading GTR. After the series and Porsches’ complaints, they made ten road-versions available for sale to the public to satisfy the homologation rules. At the start of the 2002 series, ALM changed the rules once more and required companies to sell 100 road-versions of the car, causing BMW to pull out. Boo!
Dodge Challenger Demon
Okay, race fans, get ready for disappointment. Chrysler was not messing around with the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. The Demon has a new 6.2-liter V8 engine furnished with a 2.7-liter supercharger. The engine has an 808 horsepower rating using 91 octanes. With 100 octane fuel or higher, we are talking a 840 hp rating. Along with the engine, Dodge equipped the Demon with NT05R consumer tires and a transbrake system. Unfortunately, the NHRA banned the Demon from their drag racing competitions for not having an NHRA approved roll cage.