Hooniverse Asks – What Current Car Deserves its own Single-Marque Racing Series?

Parity is a great thing. Back in October, Rhode Island’s St. George’s High School forfeited a football game against Saint Lawrence Academy of Massachusetts due to the incredible disparity in size between the two teams’ players. Saint Lawrence’s front line averages an NFL-like 300 pounds, meaning that St George’s would have to pretty much spend the game playing in their opponents’ shadows, as well as risk potential injury in the inevitable rout.
Racing is much like that, there’s not much fun in watching mismatched cars overcome the drivers’ skill. That’s why single marque racing series are so much fun. Having all the cars at a single baseline puts the onus of performance solely on the skill of the drivers, and can make for some pretty thrilling racing. Lots of cars – mostly big-ticket ones – have their own racing series, cars like the Maserati Coupe, Ferrari’s 430 Scuderia and even the Corvette.
But those are all racing series for people with money – a species rumored to exist, but rarely seen in the wild. What we want to know is what car out there today – whether cheap or not so – deserves its own exclusive racing series? Members Only jackets may be totally ’80s, but members-only racing series are still popular today. They are however not so popular that every car that deserves one, has one.
So, Yaris or Taurus,  coupe or sedan, or maybe even adding a little sport to sport utilities, what car – that doesn’t already have one – should have its own racing series?
Image source: [fancytuning.com]

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  1. Speedygopher Avatar

    The Prius needs its own series. The drivers' skills would be highlighted driving that pig.

    1. AlexiusG55 Avatar

      There already is a one-make Prius series in Japan (but it's more an economy run than a race).

      1. Maxichamp Avatar

        Do you know what it's called? Do you think it's on Youtube?

        1. AlexiusG55 Avatar

          Prius Cup: http://green.autoblog.com/2009/02/04/toyota-deale
          It's run by Toyota for its dealers- dealership staff compete to see how fast they can service the cars at pit stops.

  2. muthalovin Avatar

    Raptor Racing Series!

    1. engineerd Avatar

      Again, the Raptor proves to be the correct answer.

  3. P161911 Avatar

    Ford E-series vans. Road courses only. Unlimited engine modifications, tires and suspension must be stock.

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      I like it. Can we require them to use only the 15-passenger extended versions?

      1. P161911 Avatar

        Of course.

        1. discontinuuity Avatar

          While hauling 15 passengers for the entire race?

          1. Raze1138 Avatar

            The 15 passengers are the pit crew. Instead of going into the pit lane, drivers just pull over and the pit crews get out and get to work.

          2. Paul_y Avatar

            I like where this is going.

          3. P161911 Avatar

            Yes, there will be groups of 15 rotated between the different vans:
            Hyperactive Daycare Tots (with all the free candy from the sponsors)
            The Have Mercy Senior Citizen Choir (who will be singing the entire time)
            20 assorted day laborers/painters (after a nice 12 hour workday in the sun for that special aroma)
            A Tourets group from the center

    2. Maymar Avatar

      Would we want that to be a single marque, or have those running against Chevy Express vans? I'd even go as far as to have a separate class with Transit Connects running simultaneously.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        Chevy Express is welcome, maybe even Dodge/Mercedes/Freightliner Sprinter vans, but high roof, long wheel base versions only.
        No rear window cargo versions only.
        I'm thinking the series could be sponsored by M&M Mars, Nestle, of Herseys. Every van could have free candy in the pit area.

        1. OA5599 Avatar

          The series could be sponsored by Nelson Mandela.
          <img src="http://rlv.zcache.com/free_nelson_mandela_tshirt-p235835882830399319qw9y_400.jpg"&gt;

      1. Black Steelies Avatar

        I think I like the Transit van better than the Transit they sell here. Now after seeing that pic, it's even more true.

        1. Paul_y Avatar

          The Transit Connect has almost nothing to do with the big Transit.
          …but I, for one, would not mind if the Transit replaced the E-van.

    3. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Oh, I'd rather allow chopped-and-channeled bodies, and lowered suspension. But stock frames..

  4. OA5599 Avatar

    Cadillac CTS-V, wagons only. What was the last station wagon racing series you can remember?

    1. mudmonster Avatar

      Was there any? Only station wagon I can remember racing was this..
      <img src="http://www.retrobike.co.uk/forum/files/volvo_850_btcc_240.jpg"&gt;

      1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

        That is going into the wallpaper folder.

      2. OA5599 Avatar

        Wagons are a preferred bodystyle in lots of demolition derbies, but typically they compete against a variety of other cars.
        <img src="http://myblackbrick.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/volvo-240-demo-derby.jpg"&gt;

        1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

          Damn them, I need those front bumper trim pieces for my (same-colour-blue) 244.
          Anyway, from the demolition derbies I attended as a kid, wagons had a tendency to fold downward after repeated rear impact unless the roof was previously 'bent' like this car's; this would then drag in the dirt/mud and limit the car's movements. Sedans folded upward in the rear – many long-hood-long-deck full-size cars ended up banana-shaped by the end of the derbies. Of course, a wagon with the roof bent so as to encourage the rear to properly head upward offered the most integrity of any option.

      3. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        You're not making it easier not to paint Securicor livery on my 745Ti.

  5. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    Rolls Royce Phantom rallying, the chauffeur drives and the passenger in the back provides pace notes.
    Grey Poupon as main sponsors, obviously.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      It has been done, sort of. I think it was just a RR body on a 4X4 truck frame.
      <img src="http://www.coches20.com/wp-content/uploads/rolls-royce-rally.jpg"width=400&gt;

    2. scroggzilla Avatar

      A little more four wheel drift in the next corner, Jeeves.
      <img src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5090/5275424741_21f4f18787.jpg&quot; width="500" height="354" alt="70 World Cup Rally Martin-Martin-Martin Rolls Royce Silver Cloud" />
      photo from the 1970 London-Mexico World Cup Rally

    3. Deartháir Avatar

      I'm thinking a two-make series, along the lines of V8 Supercars. Get a bit of a rivalry going.
      <img src="http://www.autogaul.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/2010-maybach-zeppelin-1.jpg&quot; width="500">

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        I've never seen a stretched Rover 75 in two-tone paint with German plates before…

  6. James Avatar

    CR-Z. Give 'em bigger battery packs and strip the interiors to compensate, basic stuff like intake/header/exhaust and a race gas tune, sticky tires and adjustable coilovers. It would be a contest of suspension setup, momentum preservation, battery life management, lots of fun and probably cheap too!

  7. James Avatar

    The Dacia Sandero already has it's own one-make racing series.
    <img src="http://ploader.net/files/eb7790f3c079d4386382added3136dfa.jpg"&gt;

  8. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Nice-handling, affordable cars I'd want to race myself:
    – Suzuki Kizashi
    – Kia Forte Koup
    – Mazda2
    Crazy stuff that I'd actually make a special trip to the track to watch:
    – Ford Transit Connect
    – Ford Flex
    – Jaguar XKR

    1. Thrashy Avatar

      Honda and Mazda are currently working with the SCCA and NASA to put together a B-spec series, featuring the Mazda2 and the Honda Fit, and possibly expanding to include the Yaris, Accent, and Versa. I can't expect they'd cost any more to get into than a Spec Focus or Miata.

      1. GTXEliminator Avatar

        And not the Sonic?

        1. Thrashy Avatar

          Not yet, at least. It would be an interesting contender.

      2. GTXEliminator Avatar

        Dang you hoonibles!

          1. retro Avatar

            Outta my way, I'm coming through….
            <img src="http://ploader.net/files/38b90383fc6f7a37591084bc13be1d03.jpg"&gt;

  9. Deartháir Avatar

    <img src="http://www.topgear.com/uk/assets/cms/f7444c7b-b875-4548-81c2-d922eac5f037/Large%20Image.jpg?p=101008_03:46&quot; width="500">
    Just because I want to see some people actually get upset when there's a wreck.

  10. Mad_Hungarian Avatar

    Thinking about a Smart-only racing series reminded me of this.[youtube VhteNsqjlxA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhteNsqjlxA youtube]

  11. Andrew Avatar

    Morgan 3-wheeler:
    <img src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/autopia/2010/11/new_Morgan_Threewheeler_01.jpg"&gt;
    Underpowered and unsafe!

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      When I take over the world, there will be a spec class for the Cyrobuka.
      <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/cyrobuka_web.jpg"&gt;

    2. engineerd Avatar

      Add in the Reliant Robin for a two-make series.

    3. mdharrell Avatar

      The new Morgan is based on the Ace from Liberty Motors, which is to say about 100 hp pushing a little over 1000 pounds, giving 0-60 mph in around 4.5 seconds. That doesn't strike me as particularly underpowered. As for safety, my personal automotive standards are notoriously lax, but one can always wear a helmet if that's a concern.
      <img src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5290/5364516159_d77902662d.jpg&quot; width="450">

  12. Maymar Avatar

    Jeep Compass – mostly because it'd be something to redeem a very unloved car, but also, with 4WD, not too much weight (for a modern car of that size), and the potential to drop in a handful of different turbo engines, it could be pretty fun. Really, it should be the Patriot for better visibility, but it gets just enough begrudging respect.

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      If by "grudging respect", you mean "$4 higher resale value", then yes.
      Sadly, the platform for those things is just so shoddy, I don't think it would be able to hold up to a race series. They're just that bad.

      1. Maymar Avatar

        Well, there's usually the acknowledgement they're available with low-range (although the Compass is now too).
        As for the platform, it's sort of related to the Mitsubishi Lancer (I suppose about as much as the Lebaron GTC was to the Plymouth Voyager) – how bad could it be, if you threw enough money at it?

        1. Deartháir Avatar

          You say that as if the Mitsubishi Lancer were a particularly good platform.

          1. Maymar Avatar

            Not exactly, but they throw enough money at it to give us the Evo.

      2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        If they'd just kick that nasty World Engine and CVT out of the engine bay, the Compass would be a lot less bad. I spent a week driving an '09 rental while on vacation that year, and despite the motor's considerable NVH and the CVT's jerky engagement, it wasn't nearly as bad I had been led to believe it would be.

        1. Deartháir Avatar

          I think it's telling when the highest praise anyone can come up with for the Caliber/Compass/Patriot cars is some variation on, "I expected it to be so horrendous it would make me vomit just by being its general vicinity. To my surprise, I was actually able to drive the car, and only vomited twice! It's far better than I expected!"

          1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
            Peter Tanshanomi

            I think I'd do better than that:
            "This is a potentially satisfying vehicle that was ruined by the small details. Assuming that the entire drivetrain can be thought of as a 'small detail.'"

      3. P161911 Avatar

        While anything on the Caliber platform is a horrible vehicle: loud, ugly, weird transmission, etc. They do seem to possess an unusual amount of mechanical reliability. My father was cursed with a Caliber as a company car. He drives 30k-40k miles a year, a fair amount in the mountains. His Caliber has gone 100k+ miles with only oil changes. Even the brake pads are still good. It rides and drives just as crappy now as the day it was new.

        1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
          Peter Tanshanomi

          As much as Consumer Reports loves to hate the Chrysler GS-platform cars, they've repeatedly rated the Compass as "above average" in reliability.

        2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
          Peter Tanshanomi

          "As much as Consumer Reports loves to hate the Chrysler GS-platform cars, they've repeatedly rated the Compass as "above average" in reliability."
          rescue attempt

  13. jim-bob Avatar

    Chevy Aveo. If they are on the track then at least they are not on the road.

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      It's a good argument…

  14. Tomsk Avatar

    Cadillac DTS. Really doesn't drive as badly as you think, and it would bring a lot of, uh, maturity to the racing world.
    Sign Life Alert, Denny's and Depends as sponsors and you're good to go.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      "I've crashed and I can't get up!"[youtube bQlpDiXPZHQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQlpDiXPZHQ youtube]

  15. Black Steelies Avatar

    GM = Grand Marquis.
    Before I figured this out I thought you were talking about the other GM out of nowhere. But here I go flunking reading comprehension again.

    1. ChuckyShamrok Avatar

      When he said GM, I thought he was talking about 9C1's

      1. Black Steelies Avatar

        Ooh. 9C1 series. I'd watch although it would have to be opened to platform-mates like the Fleetwood and Roadmaster just to keep from depleting the short supply of police spec Caprices.

  16. Manic_King Avatar

    Destruction derby with these:
    <img src="http://cache.jalopnik.com/assets/resources/2007/09/Excalibur.jpg"&gt;

  17. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    Prius Racing League:
    Class for hypermiling
    Class for flat out speed
    Class for combined speed/economy
    Unlimited class
    Not that I've thought about this before…

  18. Black Steelies Avatar

    Hearse racing? I'm a bit biased, but if Lemons can do it anyone can.. right?
    All funeral cars including flower cars allowed. If a hearse, overall length must exceed stock dimension. Unlimited engine mods. Suspension left original, so as not to 'disturb the interred' in the back of course.
    [youtube cAG-D3XFwYM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAG-D3XFwYM youtube]

    1. CptSevere Avatar

      I like it. Gimme a '69 Commercial Chassis Caddy, with a built 472, gutted interior, and adapted Chevy truck Rancho suspension bits, and I'll kick some ass.

  19. RichardKopf Avatar

    Chrysler LHS. Why? I just bought a `96. Dear god, what have I done?

    1. Maymar Avatar

      Think of it this way – if it's survived 15 years, you've probably got a decent one. Budget for tie rods, and it's a pleasant car.

      1. Paul_y Avatar

        The early LH cars, while boaty and cursed with horribly cramped engine compartments, aren't horrible. I can think of a lot of worse 1990s cars.

        1. RichardKopf Avatar

          You guys have made me feel better already!

          1. Paul_y Avatar

            …and actually, I'd make the case that the 93-97s are better than the 98-04s in a number of key aspects (overall reliability being one; however the emissions control systems on the earlier cars can be troublesome, depending on your local regulations).

  20. Lotte Avatar

    Ford Falcon Utes. More specifically, the chassis cab kind:
    <img src="http://www.countrycars.com.au/centralwest/getImage.php?size=l&ref=5942859&quot; width="500">
    Since spec racing can be a bit boring with cars that look the same, sound the same, you are required to place 50 kilos (non-detachable during the race, of course) in the back in the form of whatever-you-want. Bonus points for those who build with creativity. Actually, it's sounding kinda like LeMons now…

  21. buzzboy7 Avatar

    Let's see some full size pickups, and I mean 350/3500/3500, diesels/duallys only. Races will take place in rally, road, street, circle and drag events. Winner gets a free car wash to get soot off their rig. Engine and suspension limited to stock.

    1. ptschett Avatar

      I could get behind this if the aftertreatment system has to stay stock too. (Without the emissions systems, you don't have a stock engine… and maybe it would get the guys who think having a truck that chokes everyone for 1/2 mile behind them is cool to realize that they're doing their hobby more harm than good.)

  22. Thrashy Avatar

    I can't think of any but between their popularity in non-spec series and their expense relative to other spec-class cars like old Miatas, Focii, and E30s, I'm not too surprised. They still did pretty well without needing a walled garden.

  23. Thrashy Avatar

    I'm still game for the 24 Hours of Sebrings, should LeMons ever get old.

  24. Smells_Homeless Avatar

    I think the Tata Nano was born to be a spec series. Slow and cheap – just the thing for newb racers.

  25. Andrew Avatar

    There's a Spec S2000 class new this year- old one have finally become (almost) affordable for racecar conversion. It's going to be… interesting. Like Spec Miata at double speed.

    1. Andrew Avatar

      With way more spinning.

  26. Black Steelies Avatar

    A Sleeper Spec series. I'm talking K-cars, Fairmonts, Citations, Geos.
    A set list of models like these, maybe cars that came stock with base engines having less than ~125hp. Unlimited modifications allowed to drivetrain and suspension. The only limitation is that they have to appear completely stock from the outside, down to hubcaps, aerodynamics etc. A further limitation could limit the vehicles to a stock engine block but it would be cool to see what could be stuffed under the hood of these things. Safety equipment and tires would be the only allowed deviations from the factory 'look'.
    <img src="http://cache.jalopnik.com/assets/resources/2007/04/le_baron.jpg"&gt; Image lifted from that other car blog.

    1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

      That could be pretty awesome, though it sounds like a version of NASCAR i'd watch.

    2. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      Fairmonts and naturally-aspirated Volvo 240/740/940s would pretty much dominate, I assume. Make mine my summer-driver 244, but turbocharged and with a T5 bolted in (the stock Volvo manuals aren't the strongest). Having classes by final number of cylinders would help keep things competitive – it's easier to build a strong and small-block Ford or Chevy than to get the same power out of most streetable, reliable four-cylinders – but then again, limiting it to stock engine blocks would have the same effect while encouraging junkyard turbocharging and other shenanigans (and even if forced induction was outlawed, a formerly-8v Volvo with a 16v head out of a 740 GLE could still compete well with the right suspension modifications and a skilled driver).

      1. Black Steelies Avatar

        I like these ideas. Maybe different classes for different layouts, fwd/rwd/awd and whatever. Or maybe just a rule that a car cannot deviate from it's factory layout. But part of me would love seeing a turbocharged awd Chevy Celebrity that appears stock.