Racing Cars that Got Banned for Safety Reasons

December 7, 2016

Racing is just like any other sport. It’s competitive, it’s business, and is taken very seriously. But just like any other sport, the competitiveness can get the best of a person in the form of cheating or be finding a loophole that later leads to a change in rules. If it is not any of those factors, it can be something along the lines of creativity and design that are still acceptable and improves the car’s performance and speed, yet become banned due to one of the several reasons. Car's safety is always a big concern, and while some cars get banned for other types of reasons, safety is the biggest.

In the case of development and design; the car can be acceptable at first, but then later gets banned from future races due to safety issues like putting racers at risk from sharp maneuvering or less braking control, causing danger to the viewers like being hard to control or difficult to grip on turns, etc.

Banned for Pushing The Regulation and Design Envelopes

Even though the rules and regulations of any particular league or championship are specific and detailed; racers, their teams, and the mechanics try to push the envelope in order to maximize power and performance. More specifically, manufacturers use this industry to develop quality cars that are designed to win, which promotes their brand. So they too like to push the envelope as far as they can on any car design. Some know the rules for a particular league or championship more than others and push design and functionality as far as they can while others may slip and get caught cheating or get found breaking the rules.

That’s why racing is an ever-changing world full of policy adjustments. As new unfair or dangerous discoveries are made, new rules get put into place, especially if a car has caused extensive harm to drivers or the audience.

Regardless of the reasons why a car is banned from racing leagues like National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), Indy Racing League (IRL), and Formula One (F1); all cars must be a certain type of vehicle and/or not have any specifically banned modifications that often win a race yet impose serious safety issues. Here are 3 cars that got banned for safety reasons.

Toyota Celica GT-FOUR Pushed Air Flow Restrictions for Power and Speed

The Toyota Celica GT-FOUR was a sporty race car in the 1990’s, constantly being developed for faster speeds. In 1995, Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) discovered that the car was getting too fast for safe and fair driving. This discovery led to a change in rules, requiring that all race cars have a restrictor plate installed in their turbocharger in order to restrict air flow, which would control engine power and speed.

Sure enough, Toyota fond a loophole and discovered a way to work around that rule in order to recap those higher speeds. They utilized a spring system that would move out of the way once the car started moving at a decent speed, which restored the horsepower that was originally lost. FIA discovered the cheat and banned Toyota from racing in the World Rally Championship (WRC) for the rest of 1995 and through 1996.

Chaparral 2E Used Movable Aerodynamics For Downforce Advantages

The Chaparral 2E was a sporting beauty to look at and featured a huge, movable airfoil in the back that was adjustable by the driver. The airfoil was located on the pylons and allowed better drag control on straights and improved gripping on turns.

However, ducting needed to be integrated on the front end to make it work. It channeled air to go over the nose for better front-wheel gripping against the rear’s downforce level. The two went hand-in-hand to provide better control around turns as the driver manipulated the spoiler, which had the look of an upside down plane wing. Can-Am series decided to ban movable aerodynamics for safety issues.

Tyrrell 025

The Tyrell 025 sported a new look for 1997 with the added feature of X-wings around the cockpit. The X-wings provided added downforce around corners and turns for better control and maximum speed. However, the design was at the center of attention for safety issues when it raced during that 1997 season. It was later banned by the FIA in 1998 for safety reasons and underwent new modifications, which of course eliminated the X-wing design and evolved into becoming the Tyrell 026.


For the most part, racing is and always will be a competitive sport with innovations, new designs, new features, and new cheats. Safety has always been a major concern for any racing league or organization, but most cars get banned for other reasons. They often get banned for having an unfair advantage over other racing teams, costing too much money for others to invest in equivalent technology, or they’re simply just too extreme for people to accept, like the Jeff Gordon T-Rex car in 1997 that only ran one race.

If it isn’t one of those situations, it is because the racing car was pushing the limits on rules or the manufacturer, engineers, and/or mechanics cheated in some way with the hopes to never get noticed. Cars may cause accidents and sometimes deaths, but the banning usually comes in the form of a rule change, not from the use of a particular car.

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