Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

“While in the vehicle on the Hagley Road for reasons not established he lost control causing it to veer across the road into the opposite carriageway.

“He failed to correct the deviation and subsequently collided on the front end with another vehicle.

“The level of impact physically lifted that into the air and backwards into a third vehicle, which forced that into a fourth vehicle, which hit a fifth vehicle.”


“Essentially he has not driven the vehicle on more than two occasions.  He pressed the accelerator rather than brake and that caused him to lose control.”


To recap:

Inexperienced Driver + Speeding + 550hp = Massive Fuckup

I’ve said before that more than 250hp is excessive.  Proof of this comes in almost daily.

Now before anyone gets their knickers in a knot, thinking that I want overpowered car engines to be banned or something:  I don’t.

Before racing in Formula 1, drivers have to get what’s known as a “super license” — i.e. without one, they aren’t allowed to drive an F1 car, even for practice on a track.  The issuance is very strictly controlled, and even for F2 / Indycar champions, getting a super license is no pro forma  matter.

I would support legislation that any individual buying a street car with 250hp or over (or truck >350hp) should have to show a similar license before being allowed to take possession thereof.

Feel free to argue with me.


  1. Maybe the right answer is a separate license with more specific training and instruction. These cars are very expensive so maybe some time in a simulator would help instruct these folks on how to operate them safely.

    I agree, dont ban them. And interference by the government is the last resort because the government can screw up anything it puts its mind to.


    1. Keep the gov’t out of it unless you like nightmares.

      Just put an adjustable bolt under the gas peddle that is set at the minimum speed when it is sold. Put the instructions for adjusting the bolt on the last page of the 800 page owners manual. heh

  2. Many, many years ago, I had the opportunity to drive a heavily modified De Tomaso Pantera.

    The lunatic who owned it had taken the stock Pantera (330 HP) and slapped a supercharger on the engine (somewhere well north of 400 HP).

    This was on a car with 1970s brakes and handling. Which I took for a sortie in the Texas countryside, with the owner in the passenger seat.

    Yes, I nearly killed us both, and that was on an empty road with zero traffic.

  3. I totally agree. I too love Jezzer et al tearing about in octane fever, but the average Joe Sixpack can’t even handle their 180HP+ beasts they currently own, let alone the 400+HP they dream of driving.

    I had access to a BMW a German buddy had, and he let me take it out on the Autobahn south of Darmstadt. I got up to 4th gear, north of 220KPH, and called it quits – too much power, too much potential for danger, and too many cars on the road.

    He called me a wimp…. but his car was still pristine, and no accidents.

  4. I drive a 300hp car which I think is rather modest. But then I’m not a member of the video game generation that thinks I’m invincible. I grew up when trucks and vans only had a lap belt in the front seat and cars didn’t have passive restraint, air-bags, ABS, collision avoidance, lane departure signaling, crumple zones, etc. etc. We drove cars with a manual tranny (before a tranny was a person) and had much fewer distractions.

    I’m not against safety features, but they seem to have enabled an entire generation of drivers who don’t realize that actions oftentimes have consequences.

  5. Maybe this is just another version of Darwinism and survival of the fittest at work. who are we to argue with this?


  6. You might want to revise your numbers to take into account modern vehicle weight. My 1500 series pickup has a 400 hp engine, but weighs around 5000 lbs. That puts power to weight ratio around 12.5 (lbs/hp). Used to be anything less than 10 lbs/hp was considered musclecar territory. Add to that my ten year old truck has enough electric nannies engaged (and cannot be switched off) that even with 400 hp it won’t even spin a tire on full-throttle take off. My musclecar from the 60’s, with a 400 hp engine, had a power to weight ratio more like 8.5 lbs/hp, no electric nannies, shitty brakes and poor suspension. Same horsepower, completely different driving experiences.

    To add, my wife’s full sized Buick has 300 hp but a ratio of 13.3 lbs/hp. It’s quick, rides well, but nobody would accuse it of being over-powered.

    Given that I regularly tow an 8000 lb RV with the truck, anything less powerful than what I have would be a nightmare and forget trying to merge onto I-10 coming out of Houston. So your estimate on truck horsepower is rather lacking. If you actually use a truck for towing.

    I can understand and appreciate the idea of a stepped license, but given that I’ve been driving for over 4 decades I can’t see giving the state even more of my money for a license to continue doing what I’m already doing. Maybe grandfather in anyone over the age of, say 35?, and start a stepped license for the younger generation? I might support that, but probably not.

    Where your idea falls flat is that the state will undoubtedly use this idea to simply generate more revenue without any actual relevant increase in road safety. You want to reduce traffic fatalities in Texas? Stop the illegals from crossing over, arrest and deport any illegals caught driving, arrest and impound and vehicles where the driver is not licensed, and stop giving licenses to illegals to begin with. I’ve had too many friends recount stories of traffic accidents where cops won’t even ticket illegals because, and I quote, “they won’t show up in court anyway, so why bother?”

  7. I also drive a 300 plus HP car (s) ( and have for quite some time ) and that level is becoming quite common when you consider that some electric cars will approach 600 hp levels, and more importantly really high levels of Torque at low speeds resulting in instantaneous acceleration. Thats a recipe for a lot more instances of “pedal misapplication ” and cars driven all the way though store fronts as people attempt to park them.

    With a maybe a thousand hours of track time over the last 35 years you might think I’d be in favor of a Multi tier license setup. I’m not. Who would administer it? The RMV?? No thank you. I’ll let Darwin deal with it.

    1. ….. and in my experience as a Track Day instructor, Darwin always deals with the guys with more $ money than skill whose ego won’t them admit they have much to learn. It usually happens on their 4th or 5th Track day, when they start to gain enough experience to approach to the cars limits but not enough to have the automatic responses needed to be close to the limit.

  8. I think licensing requirements to drive anything are woefully inadequate. 🙁

    1. This right here.

      We’ll hand out a license to anyone that can pass a simple written test, and a fairly simple driving one.

      For comparison, when I got my CDL, I had to pass five written tests and three practicals, only one of which was driving.

      FWIW, around here a negro in a kia or jetta is a far bigger threat to safety than a car enthusiast. Those rich boys in supercars are a nearly non existant threat.

      1. I’d like to revise and extend my comments to include illegals driving clapped out beaters with no insurance as an additional threat.

        1. Edit to add illegals driving clapped out beaters with no insurance and a blood/alcohol level of 0.20 or higher.

  9. Just because you can buy it doesn’t mean you can drive it. The insurance companies surely could be doing more to protect themselves from these losses, but they don’t seem to care. Ferrari doesn’t seem to mind building them a new one after they total the prior one but it doesn’t look the best when your buyers keep wrecking in such visible fashion.

    1. Actually, Ferrari does care if you bend their cars. You won’t be on the list to be able the next new model, and it will take a long time to order and receive replacement parts, assuming they are even available. And they won’t build you a replacement because the limited production run numbers mean that all the available build slots are already sold.

  10. Likewise for motorcycles. Superbikes have a power to weight ratio much higher than supercars. Kawasaki’s Ninja H2/R has peak power of 322 bhp, dry weight of 193 kg, power/weight: of 1.585 bhp/kg or .758 bhp/lb.

    The weight of Lamborghini Huracan is 1553 kg and it does not have an engine putting out 2460 bhp.

    Motorcycle old wives tales abound with stories of idiots buying even street versions of 100 hp bikes, or high torque Harleys, and the like, and wrecking them and themselves on the way home from the dealer.

  11. IDK – 250 HP seems awful low. My little Golf-R has 296 HP and it is a pussycat on the road (fast but very manageable).

    HP is not what got this person in trouble anyway, hitting the gas instead of the break will screw things up in any car. The problem was probably European styl pedals that are closer together than American style. Same issue caused the Audi “sudden acceleration” issue years ago – that went away when they went to wider spacing on their US cars.

  12. The main reason for the F1 super license is gatekeeping, to limit the number of drivers available to the teams, and thus increase their economic value (and thus their salaries).

    The main reason for a super license for powerful cars would be similar, but different. It would be to increase the bribes/incentives for the issuing bureaucrats. AKA if you can’t grease their paws to the amount of a few tens of thousands of dollars on top of the cost of the license, you don’t get the license.

  13. There’s something similar in aviation. To operate an airplane with retractable landing gear or other complex systems, a pilot needs a certification in his logbook over and above his pilot’s license.

    Having said that, my BMW 3-series has 230 horsepower. I don’t consider it a high-performance car. Fun driver, but not nearly the hot-rod that some vehicles are.

  14. Maybe it shouldn’t be a horsepower rating, but a power/weight ratio rating.

    To expand on Mike M.’s comment, a US pilot also needs a logbook signoff from an instructor before operating an airplane with more than 200 horsepower, separate from the signoff for the complex systems. And to operate a turbine-powered aircraft requires even more training and certification.

    1. yup, but that’s not because it’s “too powerful for your own good” but because of the complexity of the systems involved, the increased pilot workload.

      It’s similar to needing a different license to operate a tour bus or semi on the road. Or for needing a different license for an ocean going container ship as compared to a bass boat.

      1. That’s true for the complex aircraft endorsement, but not for the high-power endorsement. That’s just for the power – it’s needed for a Stearman biplane, for example (220-hp engine in stock form), even though that has no complex systems at all. That’s why there are two separate endorsements needed – to handle two separate training problems. Oh, and the Stearman also requires experience or a signoff for flying tailwheel aircraft. To relate it to cars, that’s the equivalent of knowing how to drive a standard transmission car when most cars have automatics.

  15. To drive a Formula One car in a race you need a Super License. Most teams let young academy drivers wih an International A License put in a few familiarisation laps in Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 (FP1 and FP2).

    If you visit Misha Charoudin’s YouTube channel, he is an instructor at the Nurburgring and drives a Ring Taxi too. The last few years he has taken part in the 24 Hours at Nurburg. Often he is asked to test drive some highly modded car with 500bhp plus at the rear wheels. Invariably he finds that the car is overpowered for the suspension and often for the brakes as well.

    However there are plenty of videos showing the Vacuum Cleaner effect of a Lambo. Guys, stand next to one, lean against it casually, and just about any girl will talk to you.

  16. Years ago, in the Before Time, back when I was young and stupid, I nearly killed myself on a sunny Sunday morning when I pushed a 1958 Volkswagen Beetle with about 90 hp up to 100 mph. It is not the car or the motor where the danger lies. It’s the inexperience and stupidity of the driver that gets people killed.

  17. 250 is a bit low. My WRX has 280hp in a 3500(?) lb chassis. It goes, and with AWD it launches too, but it’s never close to being out of control. Then again, it’s a manual, so you have to pay attention just to run the thing properly.

    I honestly think that, between lax driver’s license issuing standards and most cars being automatic these days (you fall asleep in an automatic), is where the problem lay. Stop encouraging automatics, and make it freaking harder to get a license – maybe even make it mandatory to know how to drive stick – and we’d be better off for it.

  18. A couple points:
    I drive a 1996 Dodge 4×4 farm truck.
    Its Cummins diesel is factory-tuned to 250hp… significantly under its potential.
    With a couple-three hours and a couple grand in parts, that simple engine is good for double the juice.
    My interest is reliability, so it stays stock.
    Why involve the bumblebrats (aka ‘government agents’ (aka ‘perpetually unemployable’)) with your license scheme; they have zero investment in and zero responsibility for your vehicle operation.
    Instead, who has money in the game?
    I think encouraging insurers to validate the skills and experience of every vehicle operator goes a long way toward safety.
    But the kicker:
    * how does the insurer disable the ignition if the operator is negligent.
    Eugene, Oregon.
    We have insurance with two companies.
    The writers say about sixty percent (60%) of drivers have zero insurance.

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