That thing got a Hemi? Well, if its a Nascar racer, not anymore. The Hemi changed competition in Nascar in the 1960s setting new records and helping Plymouth and Dodge drivers jump into Victory Lane. So why would Nascar ban an engine so awesome that it backed the first driver ever to go 100 mph? Well, youre about to find out.
In 1964, the 426 Hemi engine made its presence to the Nascar Grand National Circuit. This engine, enabled drivers such as Richard Petty to go over 20 mph more than they did last year. With this engine, racers could speed up to 175 mph. Drivers with Hemi engines under the hood had a definete advantage, they were not just winning races, they were lapping the field one or two times! Plymouth and Dodge cars were winning the races, not even giving other makes of race cars a chance. Basically drivers with Hemis were sweeping the field and competing with eachother. In 1964, Richard Petty and his Chrysler Hemi car won the Nascar Grand National Championship.
The year 1965 came out of the gates with protest and throwing of the book. Due to several deaths in the previous year, and the danger of unbridled high speeds, Nascar decided to curb car speeds and focus on safety. Nascar did not change the rules on engine displacement, however, special limited edition engines were banned, which meant the Hemi was out of the race with a red flag. Hemi drivers were in an outrage, packed up and moved out of Nascar. Top contenders walked out, and defending champion Richard Petty did not defend his title. This movement went into effect January 1, 1965, which also banned all Plymouth and Dodge cars raced last year. However,several of these Nascar contenders kept on racing, drag racing that is. This led to other makes such as Ford to dominate the field, since the Hemi was not a contender.
Guess who was back in play in 1966? The Hemi! This led to Ford walking out on the sport and boycotting. Hemi engines were in the winners circle early in the season, but without Ford's racing, attendance counts were way down. Ford finally agreed to return to racing by the end of the season. Hemi cars were back to domination, and Richard Petty was back to his winning ways! Richard continued on to the winners circle again in 1967, keeping the Hemi engine alive.
Hemi was no longer the lone leader in competition. In 1968, Ford stepped up their game and were neck and neck with Chrysler cars, creating mass excitement and a surge in interest in Nascar racing. This year, Richard Petty left Chrysler to compete with Ford. Ford racers were finally able to hold their own against the allmighty Hemi!
Hemi engines are still held in high standard today. Whether its muscle or modern, Hemi is a force to be dealt with. The history of the Hemi, including the ban is a huge mark in Nascar history. Hemi simply could not be touched, and were the first leaders in achieving unbelievable speed.