As many of you are aware, in the last few months I've been designing and developing a new Pro-FWD car for Christian Rado. This has been a dream project for all concerned. It's a chance for us to push the boundaries and create a truly revolutionary car that will spearhead a new generation of faster and safer front-wheel-drive racecars.
Chris Harrington's series of articles about the development and construction of the 2004 NORAD Toyota Celica reveal the radical nature of the new car. We're building it to the limit of the rules. Before a wrench was lifted, we examined the rulebooks of the NHRA and NDRA to ensure the new design would play by the rules. Work on the project started in August 2003, and construction is planned to be completed before the new year.
Just as the project was progressing nicely, we heard the NHRA was thinking about making a series of changes that would basically outlaw the new car. At the SEMA show in early November, meetings with NHRA officials shed very little light on what the changes would be.
On November 20, the NHRA announced the rule changes on its Web site. Unsurprisingly, the rules had been changed to address every one of our new car's radical developments....
To make the impact of the changes clear, here's a rundown of our car's design:Now for the NHRA rule changes:
- "Maximum displacement 2.8 liter (170.75 ci)."
- "Center-driver position prohibited. Driver must be located completely to the left or right of vehicle centerline."
- "DOT or racing slicks permitted with a maximum width of 11.5 inches and maximum height of 31.0 inches. Maximum rollout on drive tires 99 inches."
According to the NHRA rulebook, "In the interest of maintaining 'stock-bodied appearances' of Pro FWD vehicles, NHRA is currently evaluating body dimension guidelines and methods of enforcement. It is strongly advised that any new Pro FWD vehicles under construction should be held as close to stock dimensions as possible. In particular, oversized 'bulges' or 'humps' on front fenders are prohibited. Final approval rests with NHRA."
In one foul swoop, the entire car was banned, and months of work have been wasted as well as a substantial financial investment. After getting over our initial shock, we decided we'd already gone too far and would finish the project anyway. We'll race the new car with the NDRA and hopefully the other sanctioning bodies will realize this is the way forward for FWD racecars. Chris Rado's 2003 Celica racecar will be reworked with the same spec engine, transmission and clutch as the new car and it'll compete in the NHRA series.