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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Top 20 racing cheats: "If you ain't cheatin' you ain't tryin'." | Hagerty Media

Rules are to race car builders as passwords are to hackers: pesky annoyances that are meant to be circumvented. Is that cheating? Only if you get busted. As Darrell Waltrip put it after he and A.J.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/motorsports/top-20-racing-cheats-if-you-aint-cheatin-you-aint-tryin/
33 REPLIES 33
relton
Detailer

Smokey Yunik wrote a pamphlet about "cheating" with Hudson Hornets many years back. One of the tricks was to reverse the engine rotation, to help cornering. Hudson Hornets had a very heavy crankshaft, and reversing the rotation helped the car turn left.

There were other things, like lightening the flywheel by drilling radial holes in it, and then reinstalling the ring gear so inspectors couldn't see the holes.

Reversing the pistons to minimize the piston pin/piston offset also helped in these engines. As did leaving off the 4th ring, below the pin.

Hudson's dominated NASCAR for 4 seasons, until Hudson went out of business.
hyperv6
Technician

Smokey never cheated. The rules came after they did not like what he did.
One of his greatest things was how he built a Chevelle over the tires and it covered the top of the tires with the metal flare out.

They said Smokey you can't do that. He said where in the book does it say I can't. They thought well, let him go as he can't change the tires. After qualifying he pulled the car in and cut the fenders out. They again said you can't do that. But again he said where does it say I can't?

The 68 Trans Am Camaro was illegal. He ran it in practice and broke the track records. This got a lot of attention. He then loaded up and went to the salt flats to set speed records with the car. He never raced the car like it was set up so he was legal.

Penske with his vinyl top to cover the acid dipping that went too far. That was fun. Also the fuel tower that put the tank high up with the largest opening they could make to fuel the car. Also dry ice on the fuel to get more in the tank.

Junior Johnson and his buck shot in the Frame rails of DW's car. They looked for it and never could find the opening. Well it was in the jack point. When they would jack the car up it covered the hole. In Cale's car he would qualify the car with water in the tires. The first stop he lost the tires and moved up in the field fast. Then there was Bill Elliot. The T Bird he won all the super speedways with. It is smaller than the car should be. They looked at the templets and shrunk the car. It is in the Henry Ford Museum and can be confirmed today.

Fuel in roll cages and extra tanks hidden by DiGuard racing were on top of the bumper falling off on Bobbys car. Gary Nelson was so good they made him tech inspector.

As they say if you aren't cheating you aren't trying.

justjosh
New Driver

Wasn't it Smokey that put a basketball in his fuel tank so when volume was measured, it met requirements, but then deflated it to gain extra volume?
dreamingeagle
Detailer

among other things, like completely illegally modifying his racer and an identical modified ‘street’ car he lured inspectors off the track to check with their template;

he completely missed his calling..Yunick would’ve been a perfect ‘Q’ for the American CIA;
dreamingeagle
Detailer

EVERYBODY knows Yunick was like the iceberg that garroted RMS Titanic;

he was penalized for only the 1/10 of what he did even scrutinisers could only detect;

the same was true for Jim Hall, Colin Chapman, Enzo Ferrari and Roger Penske;
Gary_Bechtold
Instructor

The Toyota Turbo Cheat (TTC™) was one of the most clever things I ever read about. World Rally Championship is some of the most amazing driving. Sadly WRC isn't nearly as fun as it used to be.
TimViall
Pit Crew

Great article on a wide and creative array of engine and racing hacks. Sadly, if we move to all electric cars in the next 10 to 20 years, much of these exciting and ingenious tricks will be jettisoned and left in our rearview mirror.
Whiskytangofoxt
Pit Crew

Actually if my memory is correct the Smokey story from the article was relayed as two separate events in Smokey’s book. He built a 7/8ths stock car. In separate events he had a 3 inch fuel line running back to front. One of my favorites was he mounted a wind turbine to power the alternator. As Smokey relayed is his book after each event they would change the rules to diss allow his latest creation. Smokey didn’t just think outside the box, he thought on another shelf
OldFordMan
Detailer

Junior Johnson got caught by Nascar for having a small fuel "reserve" tank in the STEERING COLUMN!
Geok86
Advanced Driver

Can’t believe that Dale Earnhardt and RCR devising the adjustable track bar didn’t make this list...maybe because it became acceptable and used by all NASCAR teams?
Padgett
Intermediate Driver

In 1970 the rules said you could not jack the rear of a Corvette hood up to dump heat. It did not say anything about 6 inch hood pins. At speed aerodynamics would lift the back of the hood to the limit of the pins and the heat would just roil out. They changed the rule for the next year.
Mike_E_V
Detailer

These are some of the most entertaining stories I have read. A real page turner. Good Job Hagerty!
Studenorton
Advanced Driver

Now that our agents have seen how much enthusiastic cheating goes on among their clients, expect some close inspections on your next claim ...
Tim
Instructor

People complain about how long and complicated the rules are. It's no wonder why!
Studenorton
Advanced Driver

At one time, the Postal Laws and Regulations "addenda" covered 13 feet on a bookshelf. When asked about it, a Postal Inspector revealed that not a single mailing rule had been written "on spec"; every one of them was in reaction to something a customer had gotten over on them -- once.
ezskankin
New Driver

In the early 60's short track legend Larry Phillips was a master at finding "tricks" to give him an advantage (that he probably didn't need) to win at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds high banked dirt (and later asphalt) tracks. The most famous (that is known) was filling the left side frame with mercury to add weight to that side. Larry's engines were protested a number of times but I don't think they ever found anything illegal with his engines.
midnitelamp
New Driver

Lee Roy Yarbroughs 1969 ride allegedly had a shorter wheelbase on the left side.
hyperv6
Technician

The best RCR move was they used a narrow rear bumper cover on the rear of their car for years. They would go to Daytona and get caught every year. 

But they would change the cover before the race and replace it with another narrow one NASCAR never checked after it was replaced. If you look back in practice they often had primer on the rear bumper. 

Things began to get ugly as technology advanced. Traction control came to NASCAR in the 90’s. The wires were bondo’d into the floor. Some wired it to a chip in the MSD box that would get tossed before the driver came in.

 

Reports of a Miller car having a remote system that a crew member in the stands would activate was used. The car was seen by a reporter at a home in an attached garage. NASCAR mix’s the corners to catch any engine skipping a beat. 

Let’s not forget the lead radio’s and helmets. 

Andy Petrie used a Cutlass trunk latch that was electric to lower a deck Lid on the track. A flip of a switch the spoiler came down out of the air. 

Wood spacers in the springs that held the car up. They would break and lower the cars. 

Oversize engines were common. Even Pettys 199th win was on a oversized Maurice engine. 

Jim Busby ran a 911 that had an altered wheel base. No one caught it till they went to restore the car. The owner called Jim and said the fender won’t fit. Jim gave him a number of a company that could help. The fenders they sent fit but only Jim’s car. 

One if the great rules challenge was the Penske Mercedes push rod Indy engine. It was built and developed in secrecy and went on to dominate the race. Then it was banned. 

No one caught it but Mario almost did. Penske tested in the winter at Nazareth. Mario could hear it from his home. He knew something did not sound right but could not put his finger on it. 

The Everham T Rex was fully legal but was never permitted to come back. 

We also raced many short tracks. If you didn’t cheat you didn’t compete. We all used illegal things. We were required pump gas but when the cars fired up it smelled like a fleet of airplanes. No one turned anyone in because none were without sin. 

Even in Soap Box derby cheating is common. I had one father get unglued on me because my wife at the bottom of the hill turned a wheel around in the required wheel swap. I was puzzled at first why he was upset. Well we found when they required a progressive wheel swap at the local race where the wheels moved on from your car during the event. He pulled his daughters car. 

Why? He was likely running wheels with a bad outside bearing and he adjusted his axles to run on the inside bearing. If the wheels left his car he may have been caught. Sad when cheating gets to this level with kids.

 

I love the cheating in adult racing but with kids we always ran a legal car. Kids should not be mixed up in this. 

TimK
Detailer

Another "fast one" Chad Knaus pulled was installing rear shocks that rebounded extremely slow when compressed to hold the rear of the car down thus keeping the rear spoiler out of the air. When the race was over and the car went through tech the shocks had time to rebound and the rear height was within specs.
Tinkerah
Technician

I remember being told that a famous drag racer (I'm ashamed I forget the name) had staggered his front wheels giving him a tremendous length of rollout before unblocking the light beam. Genius.
DUB6
Technician

   I admire creative ingenuity and taking advantage of loopholes - meaning not violating rules but realizing where a rule doesn't prohibit something.  But purposely hiding something that you know to be illegal to gain unfair advantage?  Nah.  Style-points given for figuring out how to do it, but cheating is cheating, and it's wrong.  Racing is "competition", and cheating isn't competing - either win by using superior means within the rules, or lose gracefully.

   Sorry if I'm a downer to the comments that seem to be generally praising cheats, but robbing a bank and "getting away with it" isn't right and neither is violating the regulations to eliminate honest competition.  Right is right and cheating ain't...

DT
Detailer

I bet you are a ball at parties.....
DUB6
Technician

😁

JGeske
Intermediate Driver

I hear where you are coming from. Finding the gray areas and exploiting them is creative and drives competition, such as Smokey's ideas with large fuel lines, they were not illegal until later when people found what he had done. Hiding an illegal nitrous bottle is not creative, it is straight up cheating and working against rules.
SJ
Advanced Driver

One of your best articles to date!!
Tinkerah
Technician

A fun article, but a few things don't add up for me in "Blown Cover": it would have been a burst, not a chemical explosion capable of "rocking the paddock"; and I wonder if a tank small enough to conceal in an oil cooler (perhaps it was in an oil tank?) would have the force to escape the cooler (or tank). Even if it did, the volume of nitrous oxide would be dissipated almost immediately and not still spewing long enough to be "later identified".
DT
Detailer

Can't you just enjoy a good story without ruining it for the rest of us ????
240ZV8
Pit Crew

I can't remember who did it but I heard rumors of an old track car that put bird shot in the frame rails or perhaps exhaust system where every lap would be shedding weight. The shot would end up on the sides of the track due to the turning and not discovered.
in_garage
Pit Crew

When I was working for Sears Point Raceway in the early 1990s I heard a story about a porous intake manifold used during a NASCAR restrictor plate race. The foundry intentionally made the casting porous so it would pass more air into the engine than could flow through the restrictor in the intake. I don't remember who the culprit was or if it was even true.
Quatskinner
New Driver

Racers are racers. There are preposterous hacks in e-racing too. This one must surely be the most arcane: https://www.iracing.com/q-circles-the-crop-circles-of-iracing/
chrlsful
Instructor

What does "cheat" mean? is the 1st way to look at it.

Sail powered ocean racing? bicycles? soap box derby they all 'cheat' but Smokey was the king. The rest of us? the proverbial "close the door (new rule/law) after the horse's left".

Life lessons from the left turn circle !
- -Chad
Gary_Bechtold
Instructor

So many great "cheats". I applaud them all. Creativity at it's finest.
dreamingeagle
Detailer

you forgot about Enzo Ferrari and some of the other postwar cheats;