By Freddie Heaney
The victorious Toyota completed 363 laps at an average speed of 86.062mph—a mere one lap ahead of a Dodge Neon fitted with a 2.4 liter engine. Third to fifth place finishers all completed 360 laps, crossing the line within 20 seconds of each other.
The rules for swapped engines in Chump Car racing are based on the market value of the engine out and the engine in. This explains how the winning MR2 can legitimately run with a V6, which probably generates twice the power of the original four-cylinder power unit. However, genuine MR2 engines are rare and therefore valuable, while the Camry V6 engines are common and inexpensive.
Surprisingly, a Lexus claimed third place, two laps behind the Neon. Despite its considerable size it recorded its fastest lap time of 1:45.253, one second faster than the best lap time of the winning Toyota. “But lap times in Chump,” says Borg Warner engineer and Chump Car racer Mike Harris, “are much more dependent upon driver talent than car capabilities. Almost no one is getting 100 percent out of their cars. So a team with very good drivers in a less capable car can be very competitive against other teams with better cars but mediocre drivers.” Harris went on to say, “The other big equalizer is the tires. There are a couple of tires that comply with the regulations, but they are DOT-approved street-legal tires, so there is only so much traction available no matter what car you have.”
Probably the fastest growing segment of US motor racing, the Chump Car organization has cleverly devised rules that continue to keep it affordable. Teams are restricted to run cars with a determined market value of $500 or under. Then each car is stripped and safety equipment is added, notably a roll cage. After the modifications are completed, each car receives a pre-race evaluation where penalty laps are added to vehicles that exceed the limitations.
For example, the #147 BMW 325 (pictured left) was evaluated at $540. As a result it was penalized by 4 laps, which was increased to 6 for the 14hr race under the Chump Car multiplier formula. For races of 8 hours duration or less a multiplier of 1.0 is applied. But for races running 8 to 14hrs the multiplier is increased to 1.5. Therefore it’s imperative to avoid penalties. If you’re hoping to lap any of the fastest un-penalized cars six times, good luck!
The next Chump Car event is scheduled for March 8 at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, California. With the entry fee set at $1100, the six-hour race will receive some television time and the race and will be held in conjunction with this year’s first USCA event (Ultimate Street Car Association). USCA is hosting a series of events to highlight street-legal performance vehicles, and this race will be a part of the first episode of a TV series courtesy of MAVtv.
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