• Properly Modifying Cars for Rally Races

    Cars for rally racing are usually highly modified, with extra care being taken to safety enhancements. A rally race is a staged type of race. This means teams compete against each other as well as the clock through between stages or check in points (or timing control points) along a given course. Teams usually switch driver and navigator between stages and leave each stage at timed intervals. Below you will find some areas of a stock car that will need to be modified for rally use.

    Drivetrain Modifications

    Ideal cars for rally racing don’t have the huge, massively powerful engines you find in road racers or dragsters. The engines found in rally cars have been modified to deliver maximum acceleration and torque through the lower and mid-range rpm ranges. Rarely is a rally car’s engine run at full throttle for long. Rally racers need their engines to deliver as much power as possible, as quickly as possible. Here is how to modify your engine for rally racing:

    Purchase and install a tuner chip for maximum acceleration and throttle response.

    Change your intake manifold to one that provides maximum throttle response and low end torque.

    Change your exhaust manifold to a header, which will give increased horsepower and throttle response.


    The courses over which most rally races are run vary in condition and quality from dirt and gravel all the way through perfectly laid and groomed asphalt roadways. Because of this, you will want to modify your suspension to give it slightly more travel, which means longer shocks and struts, as well as control body roll in turns. Here are some things you can do to make your car handle better on a rally course.

    • Purchase and install a larger front sway bar for the rear of your car.
    • Polyurethane bushings for all suspension components requiring bushings.
    • Stiffer and taller gas shocks for the rear end.
    • Stiffer and taller struts and coils for the front end.
    • High performance ceramic brake pads.


    Even if you perform all of the other modifications mentioned herein perfectly, none of it will be worth your time and effort unless you have the proper tires. When rally racing, you’ll want tires that are slightly taller and a bit wider than what the car originally came with. You will also want high performance mud/snow-rated tires.

    Be sure to control the aspect ratio of the tire you pick to balance the amount of sidewalk flex. Aspect ratio is the second number in a P-metric tire size. It’ll be the first two digit number (ie: 35, 45, 50, 60, etc). The lower you can go with aspect ratio and still maintain good ground clearance the better, as this adds controllability.

    You want to know what to look for in cars for drag racing. This will depend on a number of factors. The main consideration is whether or not you will be racing the car you buy and build, and if so, whether or not you will do so in races run by either the NHRA or the IHRA. If you choose to run in NHRA sanctioned events, your choices are plentiful. However, if you wish to run in the IHRA, you will obviously be limited to import cars. Below you will find two lists, one for cars that are ideal to run in IHRA events, and the other for NHRA events. Although not commonly done, cars that can run in IHRA events can also qualify for NHRA events.

    Import Race Cars

    The best cars for drag racing can actually be anything you can modify to compete in 0.25 mile or 0.125 mile drags. In addition to major engine, suspension, transmission and tire modifications, in order to race in an IHRA sanctioned event, your import car will have to be equipped with a number of safety devices including, but not limited to, leak proof fuel cells, racing seats, five-point roll harnesses and fire suppression systems.

    The NHRA allows any make and model as long as it meets or exceeds the safety requirements. The same safety modifications required by the IHRA are required by the NHRA. You will be required to wear an approved helmet, gloves and fire suit. Your car will be required to have safety interlocks to shut the engine down in the event of crash, roll-over or fire. There are a number of cars for drag racing that are easy to find and modify. However, three cars are more popular than the rest. All of these cars are easy and inexpensive to find and have a plethora of ready-made parts available to modify these cars for any of the various NHRA classes, from amateur all the way up to professional.

    The IHRA and the NHRA, as well as some information regarding safety requirements in events run by these sanctioning bodies. It is important to note that any car can be turned into a drag racer; however the best cars are lightweight, powerful and easy to hold in a line and have a shorter wheelbase for straight line stability.