QOTD: What Motorsport Rule Changes Completely Changed the Game?

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
qotd what motorsport rule changes completely changed the game

There’s an old saying, coined by NASCAR legend Junior Johnson, that suggests the quickest way to make a small fortune in racing is to start with a big one. While my yard is notably devoid of multi-million dollar race haulers, I can certainly understand the seeds of truth in this cautionary tale: when the powers-that-be decide to change the rules in a particular series, it causes all hands to reach for their checkbooks.

There have been plenty of rule changes in motorsport over the years. Formula 1 changes its downforce packages more often than my wife’s teenage sister changes her Snapchat filters, for example. F1 is also known for decreeing the use of new engines, ranging over the years from turbo V6s to honkin’ V10s to small-displacement V12s, not to mention the bizarre powertrain configurations that appeared in the ’60s and ’70s. The amount of adaptation beggars belief.

Stock car racing isn’t immune to this trend, either.

For 2017, NASCAR has decided to split all its races into three segments. The phrase “heat race” appears nowhere in NASCAR-approved propaganda, but that’s exactly what they will be. NASCAR will award championship points to the top ten finishers in the first two heats with normal points being paid to all finishers at the checkered flag.

Naturally, this will completely change the structure of a race, and affect everything from pit decisions to fuel strategy. This doesn’t take into account other rule changes for the 2017 season, which determine tires used at the start of the race and restrictions around to what degree teams can repair damaged cars during a race. It’s going to be a huge adjustment for teams and fans alike.

What rule change do you think has had the most effect on a particular series in recent years? Was it when they started to allow hybrids at LeMans? How about when the FIA banned turbos in F1?

One thing’s for sure: big rule changes force teams to innovate at the highest level, making it great fun to watch.

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2 of 12 comments
  • Markogts Markogts on Feb 13, 2017

    F1 1993-94. Williams was winning everything thanks to electronic suspension. They even hired Senna for the next season. But nobody was watching F1 if Ferrari wasn't winning, so they forbade electronic suspension, and this in turn, albeit indirectly, killed Senna. I doubt one can conceive a greater and more unfair regulation change in motorsports.

  • Stingray65 Stingray65 on Feb 14, 2017

    Junk formula for Indy 500 in 1930. Mandated a riding mechanic passenger, and displacement limit with from 1.5 liters to 6.0 liters.

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