Racing is really fun. Rules are required in all forms of racing. Writing rules is not fun. Many people think that following the rules isn't fun....so that's sort of a mess....
Even at trackday events, people often dont read the rules. I've been doing the tech inspections for our Honda Meet and Gridlife events for 11 years, and every year someone shows up without a battery tie down. Every year someone shows up with harnesses, poorly mounted aftermarket seats, and no rollbar. Every year someone has to organize the cluster of wires that looks like a birdsnest and is resting on their valve cover. Simply reading the rules, understanding them, and preparing your car to meet them makes this all go smoother!
I never really thought much about the rules-making-process in any of the forms of competition I had participated in. Then, I volunteered to help with the writing and organization of the rules for a few of them. Like almost everyone who has signed on the dotted line and entered a competition event, I complained about the rules.
I don't complain anymore.
Much of the slew of words in every rule book are safety related. Safety rules are obviously necessary, and the effectiveness of safety rules are the main thing to think about when writing them. All potential issues need to be encompassed in a few sentences. All possible rollcage structures must be covered, but you dont want the rollcage portion to be 40 pages or many competitors wont bother reading it all. Reading through many of the safety portions of the SCCA GCR, NASA CCR, and other "big" series , you can see the days and days of work that have gone into them, usually by volunteers. These are difficult things to write (I'm sort of writing part of one right now for the Gridlife series, its not easy), and a thankless job. At least do the writers of these rules a service, and thank them the best way you can, which is simply by reading and understanding them!
I remember reading the 24 hours of Lemons rules several years ago as we were prepping a car. Upon reading it initially, I was a bit annoyed (UGH! I need NEWER SEAT BELTS! etc). Its a lot of work to build a car to fit the rules, and it takes some of the fun and creativity out of it ( or so I thought at the time). You've got to read and follow the rules, or else you might get killed by a Daewoo Lanos. This isn't supposed to be easy.
As several years have passed since I first read the rules for Lemons (mainly safety and budget related stuff), I now look at those rules completely differently. What I felt were constraints on creativity many times actually were competition leveling portions, to try and keep these low-buck enduro cars on a similar plane. Many times these rules are actually simply a guidance for the creativity, pointing people in the direction they can go, if they read them correctly, with an open mind.
A recent podcast by the Dinner With Racers guys ("The Level 5 Special" episode) talks about a great example of a lack of rules allowing someone to spend untold millions of dollars to win a national championship (in club racing-yes, MILLIONS). A lack of sufficient rules can cause a class to spiral out of control in a budget and arms race, or kill the class because people say "whats the point, I can't spend the money to win". A properly written ruleset for a well thought out class needs to be concise, but readable, and cover all possible situations that might cause an "overdog" car, or lead to a spending war and inevitably kill the class. Its hard to find that perfect balance, and when a class becomes quite successful, the rules committee really must try to preserve what made the class a success without killing competition for some, alienating others, etc. Its a very difficult process, and sometimes impossible. As a member of an SCCA advisory board on rules for a few classes, I can speak firsthand to the odd requests, difficult competition adjustments, and awkward spots the rules-boards get put in. Preservation of a class isnt as simple as just "dont touch the rules".
Reading the rules to spot the potential advantages or loopholes for your particular car is a tough skill to teach. I've developed a bit of this ability, but some people just have a real knack for spotting places to interperate rules to an advantage. I dont know how many times I've read the rules for my particular SCCA class (STL), but its probably 100+ . Even though I probably do it on a weekly basis, every time I read the rules with a mind toward a pertain part of the car I manage to learn something or have an "AH HA!" moment. I literally read the rules every time I'm thinking of a modification unless I am 100% sure I know the wording on legality or allowance. The other day I spent 15 minutes reading the rules with a mind toward inner fender liners and brake duct vents, and I figured something out, and am planning a tiny aero mod this winter. Most of the champions in every form of motorsports have likely figured something out in the rules that many people glossed over, didnt pay attention to, or never bothered to try. Pushing a car to it's furthest possible development takes a lot of work and it needs to start with a lot of research and some "out of the box thinking". Reading deeper than just the words is tough. Think about "how can I follow this rule, or abide by this restriction, and still get the result I want".
Rules evolve along with the success and growth of the series they regulate, and its a tough job for the leaders of the group to stay on top of the rules and not hurt the classes. Thank a rules writer next time you see them at the track. They likely only want to help and make the class better....not clamp down on your fun.