By on February 13, 2017

A touching moment of solidarity crowned the inaugural series event. During the second race’s podium, the winner and Nissan GT Academy driver decided to offer his two Nissan Canada cheques of 1,500 worth of parts to new driver Mario Berthiaume, who was unable to start the race after seriously damaging his car in a practice session accident. Image: Nissan Canada

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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12 Comments on “QOTD: What Motorsport Rule Changes Completely Changed the Game?...”

  • avatar

    I think the bro in the black t-shirt is transitioning:

  • avatar

    I am going to go out on a limb and say that this question of the day wont hit the number of clicks as they have over the past two weeks..JS

  • avatar

    The lack of refueling in F1 has been huge, it has turned pit stops into ultra fast tire changing challenges. Sadly however it also throws lots of interesting strategies out the window since everyone has the same fuel level and burn rate.

    The alternate tires (started by CHAMP car) in the IRL and F1 was another game changer. Both series also added a push-to-pass type system that I kind of wish they would open up even more. Anyone who has played a video game understands the idea of a turbo button, so adding this to the series made the races more exciting.

    NASCAR was already doing the heat thing with the competition yellow nonsense. You know your racing series has a problem when you have to let the slower cars catch-up randomly during the race just to make it interesting.

  • avatar

    DRS in F1. They gave u any pretense of trying to balance the rules for passing after that. Instead of watching for a fight all the way around the track, it was all about the artificial video game opportunity if DRS was active. “Push to pass” zones basically mean no passing on the rest of the track.

  • avatar

    I have been getting increasingly frustrated by how LONG it takes to clear an easy full course caution in ALMS/IMSA/Grand AM. There may be a car stopped on course, 2 turns from pit-in, a full course is deemed necessary,fine. 2 laps under safety car until pits are open for the P/PC/LMP2 cars, then finally GTLM/GTD cars may enter. Then 2 more laps under the safety car. By now 20 minutes have gone by and the driver stranded on track is already back in the motorhome.

  • avatar

    Racing is a dying sport, at least as far as being shown on TV (it’ll always exist obviously at the spectator and participant level, it’ll just continue to shrink in prominence), so all forms of it will have to continue to add gimmicks to try and maintain some level of popularity, that’s the way it’s been for at least the last 10-15 years and it’ll only get worse.

    • 0 avatar

      From what I understand, it’s more popular in Europe. Not so much in the US. Too bad as I find it more interesting than a lot of other pro sports that are televised here.

  • avatar

    I enjoy racing, though don’t watch it on TV enough to know much about the rules. That said, whenever I go to the 12 hours of Sebring race, I’m always amazed at how closely the finishing cars are guarded after the race to make sure they meet regulation specs. It must be really difficult to get away with anything. I wonder how often teams try?

  • avatar

    I am old enough to remember when NASCAR went from modified showroom cars to a spec and template series. I also miss the soundtrack of those 20,000 rpm V10’s F1 used in the early oughts. The current V6 sounds like a truck engine grunting around the track.

  • avatar

    NASCAR lucky dog, chase points system and devaluation of winning races has utterly destroyed the integrity and tradition of the series from my perspective. Even with this system driver behavior has become unwatchable…it is common for a 500miler to end with 3 or 4 attempts at a green flag finish because the drivers in 5-20th position are within 1.2 seconds of each other and simply refuse to yield.

    The new hybrid turbo regulations in Formula 1 has been a very impactful change. The competitive imbalance between teams is as big as it has ever been with finishing order becoming almost independent of who is in the driver seat. 2017 will shift things a bit by increasing mechanical grip but the sport is still struggling to produce consistently competitive races in the hybrid era.

    As a fan I cannot speak sensibly about these things…the spirit of racing is now a slave to media as the older, principled patriarchs are being replaced by innovative money making executives.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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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