I Know He's Cheating


“I know he’s cheating, because he’s beating me and I’m cheating.”
–Every racer ever

Unless you live under a rock–and probably even if you do–you’ve doubtlessly heard about the Spec Miata Plunge-Gate mass disqualification at the 2014 SCCA Runoffs. Post-race, the top six cars were bounced from their finishing spots due to illegal–but apparently highly common–modifications to the cylinder heads. The modification was so popular that doubtlessly more cars would have been bounced had the entire field been torn down.

Internet justice was swift and brutal, with demands that heads (both human and Miata) roll and witches be burned and banishments be enacted for anyone who even watched the race on TV. An equally loud crowd piped up with the “Well, if everyone is doing it, let’s just make it legal” argument.

Mostly it was proof that while America may be lagging behind in most manufacturing sectors, we can still manufacture self-righteous outrage with the best of them. Eventually everyone calmed down and a panel convened to explore the situation. Recommendations have been made, and more are coming. Despite the early chaos, the official response seems reasonable and rational. But I think we all need to examine cheating in general, how we think about it, and how it affects our sport.

First, I think any sort of zero-tolerance policy should be taken off the table. Policies like this fail to recognize that there are as many different types of cheating as there are cheaters, and not all of them are necessarily bad.

Sure, you have your straight-up flagrant a-holes with little or no conscience–or world-class rationalization skills. There are the guys who run illegal parts because they know their local tech inspectors don’t check that particular part, or they disguise illegal parts as legal parts to squeak by. These types are usually compensating for some other gross personal shortcoming–comically small or misshapen genitals, perhaps–and will take the big-fish-in-a-small-pond role any way they can get it.

But then you have your folks who are ignorant or misinformed. Now, I’ve always heard that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it, and I agree, but officials have a responsibility to be fair, too. Ignorance is also not an excuse to forever ostracize the lawbreaker, potentially turning him into a supervillain bent on revenge. Ignorance cheaters beget wonderful teachable moments, which we can use to benefit our sport and the folks who play it. But yeah, they still don’t deserve that wood-and-plastic trophy.

The close cousin of the ignorance cheater is the exploiter of the gray area. These folks work in the margins of the rulebooks and read the unprinted words between the printed ones. They are the motorsports equivalent of improvisational jazz musicians, producing something that the rest of us intellectually understand takes talent and skill, but couldn’t ever fathom how to do ourselves.

The gray-area crowd, if properly policed, actually performs a service to the community. They find weak links in the rules chains and loopholes that need to be closed or codified. To live in that world, though, they have to realize something: Every so often, one of them will have to lean into the strike zone and take one for the team. It’s just part of the territory. The Runoffs Spec Miata situation largely fits into this category. The rule was written in a way that allowed it to be exploited, everyone exploited it like a Chinese iPhone factory worker, and it all came to a head at Runoffs. The end result of this will be a much clearer picture of Spec Miata head-prep rules by next season.

The final category of cheaters stands apart from the rest. They turn cheating into an art form, pushing rules interpretation so far that they end up progressing the state of the art of the sport. Whether it’s Red Bull’s flexible nose cones and front wings on F1 cars, Toyota’s invisible variable air restrictors on their rally cars, or pretty much everything Smokey Yunick ever did, these developments–while illegal–also helped the sport grow in their own twisted ways.

I come not to glorify the cheaters. It’s worth noting that every example I give in this column was caught and appropriately punished. Rather, I come to say not all who “cheat” are instantly scumbags. Some are merely trying to gain a competitive advantage, and it’s up to the rest of us to determine whether that advantage fits within the established boundaries. In pretty much every sport there are consequences for stepping out of bounds, and motorsport should be no different. But just like football, racing is rather enjoyable to watch when someone tightropes those sidelines.

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Comments

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Rupert
Rupert Dork
2/23/15 3:09 p.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak: The link to Read the rest of the story didn't work. So I don't know what else you said. But the fact is in many a stock racing scenario, regardless of number of wheels, claiming rules work. When I raced AMA occasional, as you put it "flagrant" cheaters had their bike claimed. Some times, it worked out that the new owner wasn't any faster anyway. But most times, it was obvious when flagrant cheating was involved.

Bottom line. Once a few riders got burned by a claim almost no one was willing to spend the money to build a super ride. Because if they did, it'd be claimed. So there were very few issues with flagrance or problems at tear-down. In fact, tear-down became a very random event.

NOHOME
NOHOME UltraDork
2/23/15 3:14 p.m.

What has always been interesting to me is how much cheating, creativity and hard work go hand-in-hand.

As one person I know of an occidental nationality that shall go unmentioned said when I commented on a national disregard for fair-play when it came to IP.."That is not cheating, that's competing and winning".

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
2/23/15 3:23 p.m.

so if everyone is cheating... why should I stick to the rules and constantly come in last (or back of the pack)? We know the "right" and moral answer to that question, but it still stands.

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
2/23/15 3:39 p.m.

When I raced we knew who was not really paying attention to the rules. There was a group of them and it was a big game of lets see whose is bigger. The yucking it up and the BS highfalutin crap that was being slung around between those teams was ridiculous never mind the cubic $$$$$ that was spent was just stupid.

We that actually were reading the rules were relegated to mid pack and although it was "fun" to be racing it sucked because we could not win. There is just no way to win if you are down 10-15% in power with all other things being equal. This is one reason why I got out of racing. The cheeting was just getting out of hand. The fun was not there any more because of it. I was so glad to see the top 6 in SM get the hammer dropped on them. I think they should have torn down the whole field.

I completely disagree with your attempt to justify cheating. It is black and white! Cheating is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. As crew chief ignorance of a rule did not relieve me of being responsible. If you start playing the "I did not know" card as a viable excuse for cheating then the wheels will come off the bus really fast.

Cheating is VERY bad for any sport. You will have a small group that accepts it and plays along with it. There is a much larger group that will just toss in the towel and move on as the cheaters usually are just not fun to play with unless you are cheating also. The biggest harm is that there will be people that may be considering jointing the party but don't bother due to rumors of cheating. You loose new blood and eventually it is only the cheaters that are left to play with each other.

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
2/23/15 3:41 p.m.
mad_machine wrote: so if everyone is cheating... why should I stick to the rules and constantly come in last (or back of the pack)? We know the "right" and moral answer to that question, but it still stands.

You end up tossing in the towel and moving on is what happens. Why cheating is inherently bad.

NOHOME
NOHOME UltraDork
2/23/15 3:51 p.m.

Life is not fair and never has been. It is both naive and foolish to think that we will be treated fairly just because we behave that way to others.

What is important is to be aware that ALL games are rigged; we may still choose to participate, but only insofar as we are getting what we want from the game. If you want to win, you have to cheat and not get caught.

HiTempguy
HiTempguy UberDork
2/23/15 3:51 p.m.
mad_machine wrote: so if everyone is cheating... why should I stick to the rules and constantly come in last (or back of the pack)? We know the "right" and moral answer to that question, but it still stands.

This is why I hate it when people go "I don't like zero tolerance policies".

At what point do you sacrifice your values/beliefs/morals? This is not just limited to racing, but is a LIFE question.

I don't cheat. Period. The point of rules is to create standards for people to follow. Break the rules, even if accidental? Tough E36 M3, play again next time, its called the school of "hard knocks" if you want to play in other people's sandboxes like that.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
2/23/15 3:57 p.m.

I mean, it's like "Oh, we can't have Voter ID laws. That would discourage cheating, I mean, dat be raysis." If your suggesting that cheating is OK as long as you're not caught, then why bother having rules at all?

Rupert
Rupert Dork
2/23/15 4:00 p.m.

In reply to HiTempguy: Claiming rules make serious cheating too expensive.

HiTempguy
HiTempguy UberDork
2/23/15 4:30 p.m.
Rupert wrote: In reply to HiTempguy: Claiming rules make serious cheating too expensive.

Oh, I am all about claiming. Usually most people aren't though, because they like cheating rather than racing being based on their skill as a driver.

A big reason I like rallying/offroad racing is the variety, and the sheer variance caused by the course itself and reliance on instinct/experience to get you through said variability.

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
2/23/15 6:24 p.m.
Dr. Hess wrote: I mean, it's like "Oh, we can't have Voter ID laws. That would discourage cheating, I mean, dat be raysis." If your suggesting that cheating is OK as long as you're not caught, then why bother having rules at all?

Do you need to flounder threads on a regular basis?

turboswede
turboswede MegaDork
2/23/15 6:43 p.m.
Dr. Hess wrote: I mean, it's like "Oh, we can't have Voter ID laws. That would discourage cheating, I mean, dat be raysis." If your suggesting that cheating is OK as long as you're not caught, then why bother having rules at all?

it must suck to be as ostracized as you must feel if you feel this is an appropriate time to try and make this point.

Hint: it isn't. Many of us think you're being a bit of an shiny happy person.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
2/23/15 6:46 p.m.

Just so we're straight, I don't practice cheating, nor do I condone it.

But at the same time, I can't deny that there have been contributions to the sport made by people who may not have been within the letter or the spirit of the rules. It's sometimes tricky to know where the 100% mark is unless someone is operating at 101% to provide a frame of reference.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
2/23/15 6:52 p.m.

Also, I'm in no way trying to justify cheating, only admitting that it happens, and if it happens, maybe there's a way to use it for the good of the sport. If you operate outside the law, there should be consequences. But if one person intentionally crossing a boundary and being punished prevents someone down the road from accidentally crossing that boundary, I think person A has performed a service toward the common good.

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
2/23/15 7:01 p.m.
mad_machine wrote: Do you need to flounder threads on a regular basis?

Its a feature, not a bug.

Rupert
Rupert Dork
2/23/15 8:05 p.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak: Sorry for sounding so redundant. But the bottom line is, should you know on any given day your ride might be claimed by a competitor after any given race, you'll probably not spend all that much money to cheat!

We're not talking about steal your competitor's ride money here. In AMA the claiming cost was set at least 125% to 150% of the average build cost. In other words, if your ride is that hot It's worth paying a lot more than I could build it for, so I'll claim it!

The other side is, as a rider I'm not going to spend a ton of money to cheat. Because if/when I do, the other team/teams will buy my rides and not just beat me with what i built. But in addition, I'll also have to start over from scratch!

Rupert
Rupert Dork
2/23/15 8:11 p.m.
Dr. Hess wrote: I mean, it's like "Oh, we can't have Voter ID laws. That would discourage cheating, I mean, dat be raysis." If your suggesting that cheating is OK as long as you're not caught, then why bother having rules at all?

Sorry about your problems dealing with the realities of the 20th, not to mention the 21st century! Perhaps if you cut bigger holes in your white sheet, your brain would get more oxygen!

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
2/23/15 8:27 p.m.

So, "Cheating is OK if it helps MY TEAM but not OK if it doesn't..." Or is it "Not cheating isn't fair because then we might not 'win'"?

Driven5
Driven5 HalfDork
2/23/15 9:16 p.m.

So gov't mandated photo ID's are OK to require for one Constitutionally protected right, but not OK to require for another...Or is it gov't mandated photo ID's are an infringement on any Constitutionally protected right?

.

NOHOME wrote: If you want to win, you have to cheat and not get caught.

False...Playing the 'game' better, including interpreting the rules better, is not inherently cheating.

Trackmouse
Trackmouse Reader
2/23/15 9:28 p.m.

Yikes. Feels like I just read through a democrat vs. republican debate...

Let's look at things in this way fellas: what is the "spirit" of racing? Is it to go as fast as you can? No. Because that is only a test of your skills. We race because we want to be faster than everyone else.

With that said I think the rules are stupid. All racing should be kept entry level. No factory backing and a build cost of xx,xxx$. If you figure something out that makes you faster than the rest, so be it. Enjoy your secret while it lasts. No one stays on top forever. You'll go down in infamy for a short time. Then it's the next guys turn. If the rules governing the car were removed, racing would take on a pedigree not yet known. You could have the Miata that outpaces a corvette in every way.

And what of the manufacturers? They would now be doing all sorts of neat stuff to provide you with a crazy ride. Including slick designed aftermarket parts. In this way, everybody wins. The track? That's governed. The laps? That's governed. The sanctioning body? That's governed. The car? It's anybody's game. If you can build a FWD that destroys all other cars, do it. And show the world.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
2/23/15 10:03 p.m.

Claimer classes have always interested me a bit. Ultimately, I think claim rules produce the best racing in spec series, or series that are so tightly controlled as to be near-spec. I think the problem with claim rules is in the emotional attachment many of us feel toward our labor, and what we build. How much innovation are you going to put into a creation that you know can be taken away at a moment's notice?

Of course, that's the whole point, which is why I think it works best in tightly-controlled classes. Because eventually you'll limit innovation to a rough average of what the participants of the class are willing to invest. You'll have a few guys at the pointy end who build good cars, guys at the low end who just claim the good cars, and a bunch of guys in the middle who aren't really targets.

So, yeah, I think it's a cool idea to level—or at least stabilize–the playing field, but I don't see it as a universal solution, or you'd lose a lot of innovation. I think more sanctioning bodies need to explore it for a least a few classes (Spec Miata would be a natural claimer class).

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
2/23/15 10:16 p.m.
Trackmouse wrote: All racing should be kept entry level. No factory backing and a build cost of xx,xxx$.

It's a great sentiment, but as we've learned from the $200X Challenge, "build cost of $xx,xxx" is very far from a fixed point of reference. Ther's a million variables. Time, skill, geography, non-financial resources, etc.

That said, series like Lemons, Chump and our Challenges are good examples of this approach, but the type of racing they produce is far different from what most folks are looking for. People like some degree of standardization. They like knowing that they can walk into a McDonalds in Boise, Idaho and get the same mediocre burger that they can get in Knoxville, Tennessee. Yes it's fun finding the out-of-the-way local place, but chances are you won't be able to find another meal like that anywhere but there.

Driven5
Driven5 HalfDork
2/23/15 10:25 p.m.

I agree that claim rules seem like a great way for equalizing a class. In an "ideal" (to me) world, I could see most classes being broken down into two major types. Claimer and Innovator. As noted, Claimers would be great for spec and tightly regulated racing classes. Then the Innovators would rely on minimalist rule sets that try to only place significant restrictions on a limited number of easily policed attributes.

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
2/23/15 10:46 p.m.

I'm looking more and more to the LO206 class in karting. Sealed and close racing. Those who cheat are fairly easily caught.

Tom1200
Tom1200 Reader
2/23/15 11:37 p.m.

First I didn't have a lot of sympathy for Spec Miata debacle, not because I thought the they were evil dirty rotten cheaters etc but at the very least it was an acknowledged grey area.........when you delve into the realm you have to accept that things may come back to bite you. As for claimer classes while not having ever raced in a claiming class, I will admit it has appeal. I have a buddy who grew up around racing in the Daytona area and he has a friend who races a claimer dirt track car........he keeps selling cars to competitors, he starts winning, someone claims the car and he drags out another one and then waits for it to get claimed......I'm told he has building the cars down to a science and the "claimed cars" supplement his season. Back to cheating I'm not sure it advances anything that wouldn't have been advanced anyway, I will also freely admit to the entertainment value of clever rules interpretations.......of course if you're that persons competitor it's not so entertaining.

alfadriver
alfadriver UltimaDork
2/24/15 6:48 a.m.

Did I read the wrong article that JG posted?

I read- yes, cheating happens- sometimes it's the shiny people who no tolerance rules are very against, sometimes it's the people trying to stretch the rule book right to the edge, and sometimes its a people who just were not reading the book right. The recent Miata thing falls in the latter category.

Not sure how ANYONE got that as justifying cheating. Explaining it, sure. Perhaps justifying the ones who are at the very edge of the boundary do help the system. But many of them are not cheating- when Penske won the Indy 500 with the pushrod V8's from Mercedes- he wasn't cheating. But the rule changed the year later. Or for this group, when Mongrel won the challenge with the high $$, but very legal, Miata- they were not cheating- but their actions better defined the rule book.

Not sure how any of that justifies cheating. Just explains it, and then suggests that when a lot of honest people make the same mistake, maybe it was not intentional cheating, just a mistake.

NOHOME
NOHOME UltraDork
2/24/15 7:08 a.m.
Driven5 wrote: So gov't mandated photo ID's are OK to require for one Constitutionally protected right, but not OK to require for another...Or is it gov't mandated photo ID's are an infringement on any Constitutionally protected right? .
NOHOME wrote: If you want to win, you have to cheat and not get caught.

False...Playing the 'game' better, including interpreting the rules better, is not inherently cheating.

Cheating is a "tree falling in the woods" thing (might be a Schrödinger's cat thing also, but too early to think that hard): If you do not get caught, then you are simply a better player who is better at interpreting the rules. If you do get caught, then you are a "Cheater" and shame on you. We all agree that cheaters are an abhorrence. However, if a cheater can make it to the grave without being exposed, he will be immortalized as a "Great Man".

In my opinion, most peoples vision of "THE GAME" is way too limited. The game is what you play from cradle to grave. Last I checked, the rule book was a bit murky. Competitive sports are funny in that they try to create islands of "fairness" in what is essentially an unfair universe. And that is fine since it is harmless for the most part. But at the boundaries where they meet the real world, there will always be a discontinuity.

The real crime is to not understand that this is how the world works. The game is ALWAYS rigged, just deal with it. It's like gravity, I personally don't much like it, but I do factor it into my daily course of events as required and by doing so seem to get by.

TiggerWelder
TiggerWelder New Reader
2/24/15 8:53 a.m.

I like the way cheating is addressed in IT racing in SCCA. When you are pretty sure that someone is flagrantly cheating, a few other competitors talk to them in a non public forum, tell them that you don't appreciate it and if they don't get legal, you will protest them. If they keep doing it, you take up a collection of the competitors and post the bond. They lose the trick parts, they get points and tossed for that race. They may straighten up or they may go play in another sandbox. But you can feel good about handling it like a man and not going nuclear.
The once and done rules are bad as they take all discretion away from the rules makers. Minor is minor, major is major. If you have an ultra close 5-speed tucked into your four speed case, or an illegal cam, that is huge. If you are 5 lbs underweight or 1/8" low, that is another entirely.

racerdave600
racerdave600 SuperDork
2/24/15 11:47 a.m.

I've crewed in both pro sports car racing and Nascar, and for the most part, the most flagrant cheating I have seen is when I ran SCCA. For sure in the pro series, you stretch the rules wherever possible, but you have big money sponsors wanting results. I wouldn't really call it cheating, I call it trying to win. Nascar was a bit different in that the sanctioning body itself told people who could cheat and how, at least they did then, but that was 15 years ago. Now, who knows.

In SCCA, I simply saw many people who wanted to win by spending big money and little talent. Most of the people I saw who won however, usually just were better. I never was involved in Spec Miata so no direct experience.

A funny story though, a member of one of our 24 teams once raced an MR2 in showroom stock back in the '80's, and he commented that he ran an illegal cam, and others were doing similar things, but he wasn't a front runner.

I stand my saying that most of the guys running at the front of at least national races are pretty clean though.

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
2/24/15 12:32 p.m.

my question is.. if everyone is doing this modification to the head.. why not make it legal?

Driven5
Driven5 HalfDork
2/24/15 12:41 p.m.

In reply to NOHOME:

That all depends on how each individual chooses to define both "cheating" and "winning", what 'game' each individual has chosen to play, and how each individual chooses to apply those definitions to their particular 'game'. Obviously you are just as entitled to your opinions, as I am mine. Unfortunately, it would seem that yours differ from mine on all accounts. Thus it would seem we are at an impasse on this subject.

docwyte
docwyte Dork
2/24/15 1:08 p.m.

This sounds like a Lance Armstrong type of thing. ALL those cyclists were doping back then. Every single top rider from that era has been caught doping. I'd wager it's still going on in cycling...

So does that mean it's ok, since everyone was doing it?

Mr_Clutch42
Mr_Clutch42 Dork
2/24/15 1:29 p.m.

In reply to racerdave600: Well, I'm glad that I want to improve my driving, not spend a whole bunch of money to get faster. I haven't even started doing track days, yet.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UberDork
2/24/15 1:59 p.m.
docwyte wrote: This sounds like a Lance Armstrong type of thing. ALL those cyclists were doping back then. Every single top rider from that era has been caught doping. I'd wager it's still going on in cycling... So does that mean it's ok, since everyone was doing it?

If everybody is doing it, and there is a perception that it is not possible to win without cheating, you have a severe problem with the sanctioning body failing to enforce the rules.

That is a category that wasn't in J.G.'s original rant, but I'm sure there have been auto racing serieses with the same problem.

Karl La Follette
Karl La Follette UltraDork
2/24/15 2:29 p.m.

The GRM challenge is Kool you cheat you get more beer you don't cheat you get more beer win win

motomoron
motomoron SuperDork
2/24/15 2:30 p.m.
Rupert wrote: In reply to JG Pasterjak: Sorry for sounding so redundant. But the bottom line is, should you know on any given day your ride might be claimed by a competitor after any given race, you'll probably not spend all that much money to cheat! We're not talking about steal your competitor's ride money here. In AMA the claiming cost was set at least 125% to 150% of the average build cost. In other words, if your ride is that hot It's worth paying a lot more than I could build it for, so I'll claim it! The other side is, as a rider I'm not going to spend a ton of money to cheat. Because if/when I do, the other team/teams will buy my rides and not just beat me with what i built. But in addition, I'll also have to start over from scratch!

Around 1996 or 7, a guy I raced motorcycles with went to the Daytona 200 to crew for the guy who owned the shop I worked at. After the 600 superstock race, while the top X bikes were still in impound and could be claimed, he walked over, pointed at the Factory Yoshimura Suzuki, waved his checkbook and said "I'll take that one".

There was a little hemming and hawwing on the behalf of the organizers, but eventually he made his point, wrote the check and brought the bike home.

Irrespective of any claiming rule, the level of fabrication and quality of preparation was better then anything I'd ever seen, and while the motor was definitely legal, it also pulled a bigger dyno number and was fatter below the HP/TQ intersection than any 600 we'd see for a few years. He probably bought it for $15k less than it cost to build, and it's likely all the engine internals were the most favorably dimensioned of hundreds measured.

When I raced karts in early 00's in the Briggs (flathead) Raptor stock alcohol heavy class, tech was done by the guy who built nearly everyone's engines. I imagine the cheating was nearly equal, but occasionally when the guy in front of me would fire up on the grid before qualifying the nitromethane exhaust was like teargas.

racerdave600
racerdave600 SuperDork
2/24/15 3:32 p.m.
Mr_Clutch42 wrote: In reply to racerdave600: Well, I'm glad that I want to improve my driving, not spend a whole bunch of money to get faster. I haven't even started doing track days, yet.

To put a little perspective here, I remember back in the early 2000's my friend that is a professional racer ran laps in back marker IT car faster than the pole that weekend. Also, back in the early '90's, a local club member won a national championship in solo II, by a convincing margin, in a car he drove to the event in, never changed tires, and drove home. He was protested by several people and his car was totally stock and barely prepared at all. The guys protesting couldn't believe it and started listing out what they had done to their cars, all of it illegal. Anyway, I could go on, but you get the idea.

This is not to say the fast guys don't cheat, but I think more cheating happens towards the middle and back of the pack to make up for not being as good of a driver. To me, driving is the cheapest way to go faster.

HiTempguy
HiTempguy UberDork
2/24/15 4:21 p.m.

How does cheating improve the racing?

850Combat
850Combat New Reader
2/24/15 9:00 p.m.

I wanted to build and drive an old car on the street as a daily driver for fun. It was eligible for SCCA DSP to autocross, but no way would it ever be the hot car in the class. My motor was built beyond the rules, and my chassis and suspension were way under the limits of the rules. I had fun with it, and did OK with it sometimes. The cheating didn't make it an overdog in the class. It was still one of the the least powerful skinniest tire car in the class, and not the lightest.

I don't feel bad about building the car I wanted and driving it in a class where it wasn't built to the letter of the rules. I don't think that my competitors did either.

NOHOME
NOHOME UltraDork
2/24/15 9:14 p.m.

Would it be fair to say that the same set of morals that allow for exceeding a posted speed limit would allow you to live with the rule bending cylinder head modifications mentioned??

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
2/24/15 10:11 p.m.
motomoron wrote: Around 1996 or 7, a guy I raced motorcycles with went to the Daytona 200 to crew for the guy who owned the shop I worked at. After the 600 superstock race, while the top X bikes were still in impound and could be claimed, he walked over, pointed at the Factory Yoshimura Suzuki, waved his checkbook and said "I'll take that one". There was a little hemming and hawwing on the behalf of the organizers, but eventually he made his point, wrote the check and brought the bike home. Irrespective of any claiming rule, the level of fabrication and quality of preparation was better then anything I'd ever seen, and while the motor was definitely legal, it also pulled a bigger dyno number and was fatter below the HP/TQ intersection than any 600 we'd see for a few years. He probably bought it for $15k less than it cost to build, and it's likely all the engine internals were the most favorably dimensioned of hundreds measured.

I like the idea of having enough money and balls to take up a sanctioning body on a claim.

fornetti14
fornetti14 Dork
2/25/15 9:21 a.m.

Great thread and thanks to all for contributing.
Now, my take is that you read the limits of the rules. Read, study, understand.

As an example, we raced with restrictor plates that were legal by .003-.004. We went through the machine shop expense of having a restrictor "touched" so it was exactly the legal limit regardless of how it was measured. We were accused of cheating, but we were operating within the rules and the way they were written.
The following year the rule was changed so that it read "restrictor plates must be run "as-punched" and cannot be retouched", which then made our old plate illegal.
I use this as an acceptable example of operating within the rules and exploiting an area that no one thought of until my Mechanical Engineer Dad got a machine shop involved.
I wish you all were in the tech shed when they tried to bounce us (this was a World Karting Assn. event several years ago).

Rupert
Rupert Dork
2/25/15 10:28 a.m.

In reply to motomoron:Sounds like the claiming rule worked exactly as designed! If he bought it for $15K less than it cost to build, that's the way it's supposed to work! Now he was on a more equal playing field running against the company. Whether he was as good a competitor or not, was now the issue.

Whether the motor was "legal" wasn't the question. The question was and in this case is, can the average competitor, also running "legal" have a chance against the guys with all the money in the world? As long as you can claim, you have a chance at equality that tears-downs can't provide.

kanaric
kanaric Dork
2/25/15 11:36 a.m.

Cheating and racing have a long history on all levels of the sport. I'm sure still in racing formats like Formula 1 if you are unwilling to bend the rules or outright cheat you are just unwilling to win.

I don't cheat because i'm there for fun. If I were there to win I would probably cheat if everyone else that was there to win is doing it which according to this info they are. There is really nothing you can do about it. It's kind of a "if you can't beat em join em" kind of thing.

my question is.. if everyone is doing this modification to the head.. why not make it legal?

I think this is a very good point. This is true for any form of cheating really if it's being undiscovered everyone is going to do it.

yamaha
yamaha MegaDork
2/25/15 11:49 a.m.
850Combat wrote: I wanted to build and drive an old car on the street as a daily driver for fun. It was eligible for SCCA DSP to autocross, but no way would it ever be the hot car in the class. My motor was built beyond the rules, and my chassis and suspension were way under the limits of the rules. I had fun with it, and did OK with it sometimes. The cheating didn't make it an overdog in the class. It was still one of the the least powerful skinniest tire car in the class, and not the lightest. I don't feel bad about building the car I wanted and driving it in a class where it wasn't built to the letter of the rules. I don't think that my competitors did either.

My e36 was run in DSP with illegal front brakes(you're not supposed to change front brake rotor size) The car won a few events locally, but usually would get beaten by DSP mainstays or IT cars......the moron with the specE30 never could beat it though.

wbjones
wbjones MegaDork
2/25/15 2:14 p.m.
Rupert wrote: In reply to motomoron:Sounds like the claiming rule worked exactly as designed! If he bought it for $15K less than it cost to build, that's the way it's supposed to work! Now he was on a more equal playing field running against the company. Whether he was as good a competitor or not, was now the issue. Whether the motor was "legal" wasn't the question. The question was and in this case is, can the average competitor, also running "legal" have a chance against the guys with all the money in the world? As long as you can claim, you have a chance at equality that tears-downs can't provide.

so … the first time he road the bike in competition … did anyone claim it from him ?

that would have been funny

yamaha
yamaha MegaDork
2/25/15 3:45 p.m.

In reply to wbjones:

Indeed it would have been hilarious, I have a question pertaining to claiming though.....who asserts the value of the vehicle in question?

chuckles
chuckles HalfDork
2/25/15 3:49 p.m.

It is abslutely true that there are grey areas in the application of rules governing equipment in sports where the equipment is a lot less complex than a car or motorcycle. That's a natural consequence of the participants looking for the limits of what the rules allow. That's what a competitor does, nothing wrong with it. And, we all agree there is nothing "right" about intentional cheating.

It's the individual cases in the middle that are interesting. Like this Miata head thing.

Rupert
Rupert Dork
2/25/15 3:59 p.m.

In reply to yamaha: I've been out of for more years than I care to remember. But in AMA a set claiming price was set for each group of competition before the start of each racing season. X dollars for Pro, X dollars for Amateur, X dollars for Novice, etc. When you decided or qualified to race in any each class the claiming price was already posted. So you knew how much you could spend on your bike without getting burned, if it were claimed.

In the case of Spec Miata it would probably be X Grand of Dollars above MSRP. And that price would hold for that whole season or year. If the claiming price were MSRP +$5,000 and you spent $10,000 building yours, that was the $5,000 chance you took. Typically, at least in AMA the claiming price over a period of years increased with inflation. But it never decreased.

BTW: Each class had specific rules and you had to earn enough points in Novice to advance to Amateur, etc. No one just walked in and rode. And you must be a legitimate entry into the race where you chose to make a claim. And despite the names, all three classes I mentioned paid finish money. Despite the wording, we were all professionals.

Rupert
Rupert Dork
2/25/15 4:10 p.m.
wbjones wrote:

so … the first time he road the bike in competition … did anyone claim it from him ?

that would have been funny

Since I wasn't the person posting that, I can't say. But one very important rule in the claiming process is.

You must actually qualify and ride a legitimate entry in the race and class whose owner's bike you want to claim. In fact they probably got their rules from horse racing where they have claiming races. And any other owner in horse claiming race can claim another horse in that claiming race at a preset and published price in dollars. People can't just walk in off the street and claim your ride. They must be a legitimate competitor just as they generally are in protest situations.

In the AMA series I raced in we knew ahead of time, all races were claiming races. I would think Spec Miata or any similar series would be set up the same way.

Rupert
Rupert Dork
2/25/15 6:58 p.m.

Mea Culpa! Sorry when talking about AMA claiming rules I used the wrong term. In AMA when I was there the hottest class was Expert, not Pro. We were all pros but the classes were Novice with a green plate, Amateur with a yellow plate, and Expert with a white plate. Not Pro, we were all Pros. And we all received money based on how we placed in the event at our level.

I never got past the Amateur class because I had issues with the one mile flat track races. At the Indy Mile and a few other mile oval races, I often raised up before many of my competitors. Since by rule, none of us were allowed to have brakes, the one who raised up first, typically me, were among the lowest placed finishers on the one mile dirt track races.

So by rule, I could never have claimed an Expert's bike. Because I never scored high enough year to year as an "Amateur" to race in the Expert Class! Which is exactly how I suggest Claiming Rules should be instituted in the SCCA spec racer format. If you don't race there, you can't claim there.

iadr
iadr HalfDork
2/26/15 5:09 a.m.

This is why I like the Engine Masters dyno competition. Innovation, no drivers. Both essential to have me interested in any form of competition.
I see no interest at all into comparing one driver to another, only, solely, in the technical aspects, so in that view claiming and zero tolerance make me less interested, not more.
And I'm with Hess on the other thing. If you have a group destroying your country..well... I'll stop there.

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
2/26/15 11:16 a.m.

In reply to iadr:

Nice dog whistle racism there. Floundered the flounder of flounders.

rcutclif
rcutclif HalfDork
2/26/15 11:32 a.m.

Just remember, the USA was founded by a bunch of people who 'cheat' at war.

Racing in my book is trying to win, and using any and all methods is fair game. Now, like Nohome said, the biggest game is all of life. If you choose to flagrantly cheat and dishonestly show your car's preparation, you will lose else where and that is your decision. Racing is a small world. You may also not get much gratification from winning the race, but again, its your decision. Cheating is also a spectrum, and WE ALL fall at a different location on that spectrum.

I think cheating is a huge benefit to racing because it does 3 things.

  1. creates creative new solutions to problems that we can all learn from and use go faster (chapparal anybody?).
  2. pushes sanctioning bodies to not only develop better rule-sets, but also to better enforce them.
  3. gives the losing, non-innovating, following, complainy-pants racers a good way to save their self-esteem. (I fall mostly in this camp, BTW)

If you want to race someone truly fairly, ask them to co-drive your car at any event. Past that, it is never going to be 'fair' and I accept that.

And before everyone jumps down my throat - what exactly is the difference between 'the rules say you can' (source of innovation) and 'you did not understand the rules correctly' (source of cheating).

ronbros
ronbros Reader
3/3/15 2:48 p.m.

no one mentioned,one of big time cheating in modern Indy 500 race. 1994 the Penske engine,that totally shocked the racing world, built to the letter of the rule book.

V8 2 valve,push rod engine,turbo, all others were runnin V8 4 cam,4 valve turbo engines.

it was built in secret, and it developed over 150HP more than the other engines, and it was simply BANNED before the race was over, never to be seen again! it won the indy 500 1994.

even the super/rich like the excitement of cheating(or just out thinking the competion). who cares if it was banned,it shows how silly a rule book can be in the hands of exceptional people!

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