Why the 426 Hemi was Banned From Nascar

The 426 Hemi started its journey on the oval tracks in Nascar. After its first year, the 426 Hemi was banned from Nascar, but why?

The 426 Hemi was banned from Nascar in 1965 and 1971 due to Nascar’s newly imposed rules. In 1965 Nascar mandated all engines competing in races must be available in a production vehicle. The Hemi Engine wasn’t produced in Chrysler vehicles at the time forcing Nascar teams not to use them.

In 1971 the 426 Hemi was again banned from being used in their winged aero cars, the Dodge Daytona and Plymouth Superbird. New Nascar rules mandated all aero race cars be limited to an engine no larger than 305 cubic inches. The 426 Hemi was 426 cubic inches banning it from being used in the winged aero race cars.

This article will dive deeper into these two events. In addition, find out why Nascar decided to impose the two rules.

A 426 Hemi race car shortly after the ban.

The 1965 426 Hemi Ban

After the 1964 season, Nascar imposed new rules mandating any engine used for racing must be in a production vehicle available to the public. Therefore, the 426 Hemi was banned due to its unavailability in Chrysler production vehicles.

Why did Nascar impose the new rule which banned the 426 Hemi?

The ban of the 426 Hemi for 1965 was imposed for three reasons:

  1. The Hemi equipped race cars were too dominating creating a competitive imbalance.
  2. Complaints from the rival Ford Motor Company and their race teams.
  3. Complaints from the Automobile Manufacturers Association the cars were too fast for safety.
A 1970 426 Hemi one year before the Nascar ban.
A 1970 426 Hemi one year before the Nascar ban.

Here’s What Lead to the Ban

Competitive Imbalance

Prior to 1964, the 426 wedge engine wasn’t performing up to the standards of Chrysler. Knowing the limitations of the engine, executives pushed for a new alternative.

This leads to the development of the 426 Race Hemi. The year was 1964 and Ford was dominating in races over 500 miles long, until now.

The Hemi was put into action for the Daytona 500 and won four out of the top five winning positions. Plymouths took the top three spots in the race. Here is the top 10 finishers that day:

PositionStart#DriverCar
1243Richard PettyPlymouth
2654Jimmy ParduePlymouth
3125Paul GoldsmithPlymouth
4921Marvin PanchFord
5105Jim PaschalDodge
6211Billy WadeMercury
71116Darel DieringerMercury
81429Larry FrankFord
933Junior JohnsonDodge
101917Dave MacDonaldMercury
1964 Daytona 500 Results

Finally, Ford had some stiff competition for the 1964 season. The Hemi won 26 of 62 races for the year and most of the drivers finishing in the top 10 for the season drove either a Dodge or Plymouth.

Not bad considering the introduction of the Hemi at the Daytona 500 was already the 8th race of the season.

The following is the top 10 standings for the 1964 Nascar season:

DriverPointsCars Driven
1Richard Petty40,252Plymouth
2Ned Jarrett34,950Ford
3David Pearson32,146Dodge
4Billy Wade28,474Dodge/Mercury
5Jimmy Pardue26,570Pontiac/Plymouth
6Curtis Crider25,606Mercury/Ford/Plymouth
7Jim Paschal25,450Dodge/Plymouth
8Larry Thomas22,950Dodge/Plymouth/Ford
9Buck Baker22,366Pontiac/Plymouth/Dodge
10Marvin Panch21,480Ford
The top 10 Standings for the 1964 Nascar Season

Ford’s Role in the Ban

Ford wasn’t happy with the new competition. After all, they were dominating prior to the Hemi’s introduction. It wasn’t only complaints from Ford leading to the ban.

Ford developed a race engine of their own to compete with the mighty elephant. They engineered new heads with hemispherical chambers for their 427.

The engine also had single overhead cams. They went to Nascar for approval. Unfortunately, they were informed the new engine was a race engine unavailable to the public.

Ford's 427 overhead cam engine which was banned from Nascar.
Ford’s 427 overhead cam engine which was banned from Nascar.

For 1965, Ford and Chrysler were informed their race engines would have to be offered as a production option to the public.

Chrysler boycotted the start of the 1965 season. Although Ford continued to race and recaptured their racing domination with the absence of the Hemi.

The ban of the Hemi ended towards the end of the 1965 season.

Find out about the mythical 426 Hemi DOHC and its Nascar connection in my article, The 426 Hemi Dual Overhead Cam Engine – The “Doomsday Hemi”

The 1971 426 Hemi Ban

After the 1970 season Nascar imposed a new rule change limiting an aero car to 305 cubic inches. This banned the 426 cubic inch Hemi from being raced in a winged aero car but not from Nascar.

The rule change didn’t ban a winged or aero car but almost every Chrysler and Ford team stopped racing them. This enabled them to keep racing the larger displacement engines.

Brooks was the only driver who continued to race using a winged car, a Dodge Daytona.

Brooks racing a Dodge Daytona with a 305 Cubic inch engine after the 426 Hemi ban.
Brooks racing a Dodge Daytona with a 305 Cubic inch engine after the 426 Hemi ban.

The following cars were banned from using an engine larger than 305 cubic inches:

  • Dodge Daytona
  • Plymouth Superbird
  • Ford Torino Talladega
  • Mercury Spoiler ll
  • Dodge Charger 500

Why did Nascar impose the 305 cubic inch limits on aero cars?

Nascar wanted to keep the quick evolving top speed advancements under control. The introduction of the aero cars increased top speeds drastically in a short time frame.

Find out the real reasons why it’s called the elephant engine in my article, Why the 426 Hemi is Called the Elephant Engine.

Here’s What Lead to the 1971 Rule Change

Ford started to race their versions of aero cars first in 1969. The Ford Torino Talladega and the Mercury Cyclone Spoiler ll. The aerodynamics was much better than Dodge Chargers and swayed Richard Petty over to Ford.

Ford was once again dominating the ovals with these slick cars. Dodge attempted to counter with the Charger 500. It corrected many of the failed aerodynamics of the regular Charger.

Chrysler winged aero cars racing the 426 Hemi before the ban.
Chrysler winged aero cars racing the 426 Hemi before the ban.

Even though Dodge saw an improvement, it wasn’t enough and they weren’t finished trying. Later in 1969 they came out with the first winged car, the Dodge Daytona.

Although it was too late to salvage the whole racing season, Dodge won seven of the last eleven races. Chrysler, the winged cars and the Hemi were once again dominating.

In 1970 Plymouth produced their winged warrior, the Plymouth Superbird. This was enough to sway Richard Petty back to Plymouth once again.

Dodge and Plymouth won 19 consecutive races in 1970 and dominated the season standings shown below.

DriverPointsCars Driven
1Bobby Isaac3,911Dodge
2Bobby Allison3,860Dodge/Plymouth
3James Hylton3,788Dodge/Plymouth/Ford
4Richard Petty 3,447Plymouth
5Neil Castles3,158Dodge
6Elmo Langley3,154Ford/Mercury
7Jabe Thomas3,120Plymouth
8Benny Parsons2,993Ford
9Dave Marcis2,820Dodge/Chevy/Ford
10Frank Warren2,697Plymouth
The Top 10 Standings for 1970 Nascar Season

In 1970 Buddy Baker was the first to set an official lap speed record over 200 mph while driving a Dodge. Towards the end of the year, Bobby Isaac set a new speed record of 201.104 mph also with a Dodge winged car.

Here’s a video of Buddy Baker below.

Buddy Baker breaking 200 mph for the first time.

Let’s settle the score about which one is faster in my article, The 426 Hemi vs The 440 Six pack: Which is Faster?

Read More 426 Hemi Articles!

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426 Hemi Specifications – Complete Engine Specs

The Difference Between a 426 Street Hemi and a 426 Race Hemi

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