As soon as mankind was given any sets of rules, mankind began
working out how to circumvent them. This is not a new phenomenon, a result of
sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, but has been evident from time immemorial.
“Adam, don’t eat that apple,” and look what happened after that! I could
almost rest my case right here and now and leave you with 7/10ths of a blank
page to read, but as you can see - I didn’t.
Motor sport has its fair share of rules and regulations, and
there are people who have made a nice fat living out of inaugurating and
applying those rules. Successive presidents of the Federation Internationale de
l’Automobile (FIA for short) have done very nicely thank you, none of whom
appeared to have starved to death in the reputedly unpaid position.
Since the objective in 99% of motorsport is to get to the
finish before the rest of the turkeys, this means that we have a contest, with
the first regulation being that “The motor car that is leading at the end of
the race is declared the winner.”
Many years ago, the rule-makers saw that to keep the contests
interesting you needed to keep the competing vehicles together, so the concept
of “classes” was introduced, and the regulations flowed on from there. These
days there are more classes than there are go-go dancers in all of Thailand, and
the regulations for these take up several libraries. These days, there are also
legions of racers reading the regulations and working out their ways around
them. Legally or otherwise.
There are also countless thousands of examples of cheating,
or bending the rules, only found out when the perpetrator has been found out.
Like the Japanese rally team that ran oversize tricky turbochargers, or when a
certain front running Eff Wun team was found to be running jungle juice instead
of the correct race fuel.
But these are ham fisted attempts at getting an advantage.
There have been much better examples of the fine art of fudging. From across the
pond, there was the NASCAR stock car that was later found to be a 9/10ths scaled
down replica. At 9/10ths the frontal area it slipped through the air just so
much better. It looked perfectly standard, until someone put the rule over the
car! In Australia, a Ford Sierra was found to be wider than all the others, to
give that certain edge in cornering.
Returning to the US of A, where the fuel tanks were limited
in size in a certain class, one competitor managed to go for many laps further
than the rest of the field on the same sized tank of fuel. The tank was taken
out and measured - perfectly legal! However, the several tens of metres of very
large bore “fuel lines” running from the rear and around the interior of the
vehicle, on the way to the engine, were later discovered and considered against
the spirit of the regulations!
However, some of the more inventive applications of the human
brain to circumvent regulations have come via the motorcycle racers. These are
guys with a very healthy disrespect for all rules, regulations and policemen.
You have to admire them.
The following examples are true, but names have been withheld
to protect the guilty. The first involved an illegal cylinder head. One rider,
suspected of running a very modified cylinder head on a production bike, was
approached by the scrutineers, wishing to measure and examine said cylinder
head. “No worries,” said the biker, “give us a couple of minutes and
we’ll bring it down to you.” Now the powers that be weren’t that silly, so
they said they’d wait. “No worries,” was the rejoinder again.
Much spanner twisting ensued and the head was lifted off.
“I’ll just give it a clean for you,” said the mechanic, dropping it into a
large drum of murky petrol and giving it a shake and swirl. Lifting it out, it
was dried and handed over. The head was checked for capacity, port sizes, the
works. It was totally legal. And of course it was. The one they were given was
the ‘other’ standard cylinder head which had been sitting waiting in the
bottom of the large drum of oily petrol!
These are still but crude and clumsy efforts at getting
around the regs, so keep reading, the following fudge is one of the best. In
Production Bike racing, one of the biggest problems in cornering is the exhaust
pipes grounding, particularly noticeable on some famous Italian machines. In
Australia there was a six hour race for production bikes and on this particular
year, one Italian bike team appeared to have the problem licked. All the others
were scraping away, while this one team did not scrape once in qualifying. Of
course this produced the attention of the scrutineers who noticed the exhaust
headers were different from the others. “How come?” “These are a optional
headers” was the reply, but the scrutineers insisted on inspection.
The offending items looked like factory bits, complete with
the part number stamped into the metal, but nobody in the officials had ever
heard of a production option being available. It was then suggested that they go
to the closest dealer and inquire there.
The scrutineers went to the dealer, straight to the parts
counter and being crafty, asked to see the parts book. There it was in black and
white - Optional Header, part number XYZ. The disbelieving scrutineers then
asked if the dealer had any of these items. The answer was in the affirmative
and two headers were produced, exactly identical with the ones on the bike at
the circuit. There was no option open to the officials, other than to pass the
bike in question, which they did.
What they did not know, was that there were only four of
these “factory” headers in the world, all hand made and hand stamped. Two on
the race bike and two at the dealership. The page in the parts book was a phoney
too, all done as an elaborate and well set up fraud!
And cheats never prosper? Think again!