What’s The Difference Between Cheating And Bending The Rules?

We say that racing is all about cheating, but is it? What if the greatest cheats, weren't even breaking the rules at all?

Today, IndyCar racer Alex Lloyd explained how race team engineers repeatedly break the rules to get an unfair advantage, but reader Tentacle argued that the very best engineers were those who never did anything explicitly illegal.

There is a thin line between cheating and being ingenious.

In case of Smokey Yunick, he simply made use of gaps: if you specify tank capacity, but not fuel line capacity, then you're free to use, say, a couple of feet of 1" diameter fuel line. If you don't specify a given weight post-race, then you can lose some along the way.

It only becomes true cheating if you break rules, instead of venturing into unspecified territory. Toyota was mandated to draw all of the air through the restrictor, yet it devised a way to bypass the restrictor (pictured below). That's cheating.

If you're not allowed to have traction control, but you do and you have a self-delete sequence built into the car's ECU to remove it post-race, then you cheat.

If nothing mandates what kind of dampers you have to use, so you switch from conventional dampers to magneto-rheological ones, that's being creative. It's an advantage over everyone who A) can't afford them and/or B) didn't think of them, but cheating it is not.

What’s The Difference Between Cheating And Bending The Rules?

So what race car engineers do you think only bent the rules and didn't break them? What famous race engineers can you think of who did actually cheat all the time? Which teams made cheating something to be proud of, and which teams were total scumbags about it?

We have our own heroes and villains, but what about you?

Photo Credit: Getty Images, Associated Press