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NASCAR has a fairly intense history regarding regulation changes every year with the cars and scoring. That drive for change was one reason Dodge and the Dodge Daytona ended up banned from competing in NASCAR. What led up to that historic decision? A Hemi engine and a lot of winning.

Why did Dodge leave Nascar?

A Dodge Nascar vehicle
Marvin Panch poses with the Tom Harbison-owned Dodge he drove in the NASCAR Cup race on the Daytona Beach-Road Course | ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images

Back in the day, Chrysler still owned Dodge. The Chrysler Hemi engine, now known as the Hemi, was built. It has hemispherical combustion chambers that made it a popular choice for vehicles starting in 1951. Even a marine version of the engine was popular in boats back in the 1950s and 1960s.

Essentially, the Hemi engine was just too good. The Dodge Daytona was more powerful and more aerodynamic in comparison to other cars. The brand essentially set out to create a car that could win NASCAR races, and the Daytona did just that.

The Daytona was the first car to break 200 miles per hour during a race. It was so successful at winning that the Hemi engine cars ended up winning about 41% of the stock car races in the 1964 season. Each vehicle was either the 440 Mopar big-block V8 engine or the 426 Hemi V8, which helped with the domination.

The Dodge Daytona was banned for being too good at racing

In 1969, the Dodge Charger Daytona was created for the sole purpose of taking home wins at NASCAR, Wikipedia says. At the first race of the season, the Dodge Charger Daytona won the Talladega 500. Buddy Baker broke the 200 miles per hour mark on March 24, 1970, at the same Talladega track. After that, the car won six more races.

The Dodge Daytona had a sister car, the Plymouth Superbird, that was created for similar reasons. The Superbird won eight races in 1970 and set numerous records in the same year. After the Daytona broke the 200 miles per hour barrier, NASCAR officials started paying more attention to the car. Since the Daytona and the Superbird ended up dominating throughout the 1969 and 1970 seasons, it was over before it started.

NASCAR officials changed the rules to ban cars with certain attributes, like the huge wings these cars had. The wing even got these vehicles the nickname “Winged Warriors” due to the large wing. NASCAR banned both the aero features and the big, more powerful engines. Dodge, Ford, Mercury, and Plymouth were effectively banned by the changes made in 1970.

Post-NASCAR activities for the race-winning car

According to Motorious, drivers, Harry Hyde and Bobby Isaac used the post-NASCAR time to set some more records. The duo paired up with the Dodge Daytona again and headed off to the Bonneville Salt Flats.

In 1971, Issac and the Daytona took to the salt flats to set some land speed records. As a matter of fact, the pair set 28 records with it. This included a flying mile at over 216 miles per hour, Steve Lehto told Road & Track. In conclusion, that’s not a bad way to go out, even if your NASCAR days are over.


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