As Ricky Bobby used to say; "If you ain't first, you're last!" However, it turns out that being first by too great a margin, or just first too many times in a season, can actually get a car banned.
Motorsport is perhaps the only sport in the world that will penalize entrants that win too much. Nobody banned the 2016 Golden State Warriors when they played a 73-9 season. Michael Phelps wasn't banned for swimming faster than everyone else. The way we see it, any car that's capable of dominating the series doesn't get into that position through sheer luck. It takes engineers and designers crafting innovative and ingenious inventions to give their cars a leg up. Banning these cars for being too fast means their superior technology won't trickle down to the road going machines we can actually buy. We're being robbed! Here are 20 cars that were too fast for racing.
20 Dodge Challenger Demon
During the 2017 New York Auto Show, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis bragged how the National Hot Rod Association banned the car from drag racing because it was capable of running a 9.56-second quarter-mile at 140 mph - making it the fastest production car in the quarter-mile ever. The NHRA sent Dodge a certified letter banning the Demon from competition. However, by installing added safety features it will be allowed to race.
19 1984 Chevrolet C4 Corvette
The C4 Corvette was penalized for winning too much in the mid-80s. It was one of the most dominant cars in the SCCA Stock GT race car series, completely owning the podium in the Playboy and Escort Endurance Championship from 1985 to 1987. The 'Vette's dominance wasn’t good for viewer turnout, which led to the car being exiled from racing.
18 1967 Penske Chevrolet Camaro Z28
Mark Neary Donohue, Jr., also known as “Captain Nice,” loved to study the race rulebooks, looking for loopholes to bend the rules so he could win. He was also accused of outright cheating on more than one occasion. His Penske Camaro Z/28 was given an acid bath, leaving the body panels paper-thin. This car was so fast that Trans-Am organizers banned every so-called “lightweight” vehicle.
17 1973 Porsche 917/30
Return of “Captain Nice.” The Porsche 917/30 Can-Am used a turbocharger and flat-12 engine from its Le Mans-winning 917 in order to produce an insane 1300 horsepower - more than any other racecar at the time, in fact, hardly any cars today can match that. Porsche embarrassed the previously-dominant McLaren team. Can-Am’s organizers then imposed a fuel limit for the 1974 season, forcing the Penske and Porsche teams to pull out of the race.
16 2001 BMW M3 GTR
The E46 BMW M3 is arguably the best M3 ever made. Unfortunately, with its straight-six engine, it didn't qualify for the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). BMW took things to the next level by dropping a 500-hp V8 engine in a handful of road cars to satisfy homologation requirements. ALMS responded by changing the homologation requirement in 2002, forcing BMW to pull the plug on the dominant BMW M3 GTR.
15 1968 Lotus 56
The legendary British racer Graham Hill found himself behind the wheel of Andy Granatelli’s Lotus 56 4WD Turbine car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While the Pratt & Whitney turbine-powered, four-wheel-drive racecar didn't win due to a failed fuel pump, it was so much faster than the competition that it was banned after its one and only appearance in 1968.
14 1992 Williams FW14B
No one could catch Nigel Mansell in the 1992 F1 season due to this car’s innovative and advanced active suspension system. It was programmed to anticipate surface changes on the race track—a technology never seen before. Rival teams complained it wasn’t fair, and that it was too expensive to develop, so the technology was banned in 1993.
13 1992 Nissan Skyline GT-R Group A
It takes a lot to disqualify an entire class of vehicles from racing, but that’s what happened due to the Skyline's dominance on the Australian racing circuits. The R32 Skyline GT-R was undefeated, and unfortunately, the governing body of the races didn't share Nissan's enthusiasm for having the same car win every race. They banned turbocharging and all-wheel-drive, ending the Skyline GT-R’s racing career in the land down under.
12 1969 Dodge Daytona/1970 Plymouth Superbird
The Daytona had a huge wing on its rear end and a massive nose piece to make it more aerodynamic - it was the first car to break the 200 mph barrier in a NASCAR race. Dodge developed it to win NASCAR races, and it ended up winning so many races that NASCAR banned it and its sibling, the 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird.
11 1970 Chaparral 2J
The 2J represented the pinnacle of Chaparral methodical madness and Jim Hall’s ingenuity. It used two fans powered by a snow-blower engine in order to “suck” the car down to the ground. The resulting downforce was so massive, even at low speeds, that even though mechanical hiccups prevented the car from winning races, the downforce system was still banned before people could see the full potential of it.
10 1978 Brabham BT46B
F1 legend Gordon Murray reinterpreted the Chaparral 2J’s downforce system on the Brabham BT46B for a single race in 1978. A huge fan, driven via the gearbox, sucked the car to the ground, letting drivers corner at virtually any speed they wanted. Niki Lauda won the Swedish Grand Prix with the BT46B, but the rival teams threw a tantrum and managed to get the “vacuum car” banned from Formula 1 racing.
9 Chaparral 2E
Another innovative design by Jim Hall that got banned for being too effective. Almost all cars that get banned are so because of something related to engine power or downforce. The 2E messed with the latter, featuring an adjustable spoiler that the driver could manipulate. As a result, the Can-Am racing series declared the Chaparral 2E illegal because of outlawed aerodynamic parts that moved.
8 Sneaky Pete Robinson's Jumping Jack Dragster
As Robinson lined up at the start line, he’d pull a lever, allowing folding jack stands to raise the rear end of his car. He could then rev his engine and get the rear tires spinning before the light turned green. Once the race started, his tires would hit the ground spinning while the other driver was still revving up. His jumping jack stands were banned after one race.
7 Hendrix Motorsports 1997 Chevrolet "T-Rex" Monte Carlo
In 1997, Jeff Gordon drove the Monte Carlo in the All-Star race. It was designed from the ground up by Rex Stump, a former Corvette engineer who designed the T-Rex to be as fast as possible. Gordon dominated the race, but at the post-race inspection, NASCAR officials told the Hendrick crew they shouldn’t race the car again, though it complied with all NASCAR rules. Apparently, the design was too radical.
6 Group B Rally Cars
Group B rally cars weren’t banned because of competitive advantage, but due to safety issues. Immensely fast and powerful, Group B rally cars were raced in environments where speed, control, and communication between driver and co-driver must be 100% on point and there's no room for error. Rally fans lined up on the side of the road, and after a few accidents involving fatalities, these cars had to go.
5 1997 Tyrrell 025
The Tyrrell 025 was not a very spectacular F1 car, in fact, at best it could be called average, winning just two points in the Monaco Grand Prix in 1997. Why was it banned, especially if it wasn’t winning? Safety concerns. To increase downforce, the team fitted X-wings on the body. Soon, other teams did the same, and the X-wings raised safety concerns when the cars were in the pits.
4 IMSA Consulier GTP
Warren Mosler’s Consulier GTP had a magnificent racing record during its short career, consistently beating drivers in factory-built Porsches and twin-turbo Callaway Corvettes and Firebirds. It was so good that IMSA decided it was not in their best interest to continue allowing this upstart to keep beating the factory cars so badly. So they slapped it with a 300-pound weight penalty before banning it outright in 1991.
3 Dauer Porsche 962
In 1992, the World Sportscar Championship rules changed, crippling the Porsche 962 which had dominated the series. In 1993, the ACO instituted new GT-Class rules, and Porsche found a loophole - road-legal 962s were now eligible to race. Its larger-than-prototype fuel tanks allowed them to stay on the track longer, giving a 962 in the GT-Class the overall win. The ACO immediately changed the rules again, keeping the 962s off the track for good.
2 Smokey Yunick's 1967 Chevelle
Smokey Yunik was a master at subverting and circumventing the rules via loopholes. Smokey modified the bodywork, adding lips and winglets and smoothing the rough edges to squeeze out every ounce of speed. He proved the car’s legitimacy to NASCAR officials by measuring it - those measurements matched perfectly on a Chevelle in the parking lot. The officials learned the test car also belonged to Smokey, and it was banned.
1 Lotus/Caterham Seven
The Seven dominated races for decades. It was banned from racing in the USA during the 1960s, deemed as being too fast to race. Then in the 70s, it was banned in the UK for the same reason. The ban was later lifted, and in 2002, an R400 won its class by 10 laps at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring race, ahead of BMW and Porsche... So they banned it once again.
Sources: Jalopnik, Hagerty, Road & Track