10 Banned Race Cars


WRC Toyota Celica GT-Four

The Toyota Celica GT-Four is pictured.
The Toyota Celica GT-Four, a rally car, was banned because of its illegal turbocharger. © 2010 Smudge 9000/CC BY-NC 2.0

Prior to the mid-1980s, rally races, which are car races held on public roads and wooded trails, were won mostly by cars from European manufacturers. In 1988, however, Toyota started racing the World Rally Championship (WRC) Celica GT-Four. It won its first race in the 1989 Rally Australia [source: Car Throttle].

Time passed, and rally cars kept getting faster, which raised safety concerns for both the rally drivers and race fans. In 1995 the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) required that cars have restrictor plates in their turbochargers [source: Grossinger]. Turbochargers work by forcing air into the engine, allowing it to generate more power. The restrictor plates limited air flow into the turbocharger, which slowed power output, which, in turn, limited speed and made the races somewhat safer. Toyota's engineers figured out a way to have the restrictor plate in the turbocharger, but as the car picked up speed, the restrictor plate automatically moved out of the way, which fulfilled the spirit (the restrictor plate was in the turbocharger!) if not the letter (but it wasn't doing anything!) of the law. The FIA banned the car when it discovered the ruse.