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Why Do Rally Cars Have Tape on Their Headlights: Aerodynamics, Protection, and Performance

Why Do Rally Cars Have Tape on Their Headlights

If you’re a fan of rally racing, you may have noticed the ubiquitous tape on the headlights of these high-performance vehicles. But why do rally cars have tape on their headlights? In this blog post, we’ll delve into the reasons behind this common practice.

What Is Rally Racing, And What Are Rally Cars?

Before getting straight into “Why Do Rally Cars Have Tape on Their Headlights” lets first discuss what rally racing is. 

Rally racing

Rally racing is a type of motorsport that takes place on public or private roads. They race in typically in a point-to-point format, where drivers and co-drivers compete in high-performance cars. This race goes across a variety of terrains and weather conditions. 

Rally dirt racing car-Why Do Rally Cars Have Tape on Their Headlights

The goal is to complete the course as quickly as possible while following a specific route and navigating a series of checkpoints.

Rally cars

Rally cars are specially designed vehicles that are optimized for high-speed performance. They got maneuverability across a range of terrains, including dirt, gravel, snow, and tarmac. 

Rally car

They typically feature all-wheel drive, high ground clearance, and specialized suspension systems. With these specs it can handle rough and unpredictable conditions of rally racing.

Rally cars are also equipped with advanced safety features. These features includes roll cages, racing seats, and fire suppression systems, to protect drivers and co-drivers in the event of an accident. 

They may also have modifications to the engine, brakes, and transmission for improved performance and durability. 

Why Do Rally Cars Have Tape On Their Headlights?

Why do race cars have x on headlights? Why taping? For several reasons! Let’s explore why do race cars tape their headlights.

old rally car-Why Do Rally Cars Have Tape on Their Headlights

Improved Aerodynamics And Reduced Drag By Closing Off The Gaps And Vents

The First reason for “why do rally cars have tape on their headlights,” is to improve aerodynamics and reduce drag. This is done by closing off the gaps and vents around the headlights. This helps to streamline the airflow over the car, improving performance and speed.

A stock racing car has several holes and vents, including the radiator grille, which reduces the car’s aerodynamic qualities. Specially made front panels can eliminate the grille entirely, but they are meant only for specialized race cars. 

Protection Against Debris And Damage

Another reason “why do rally cars have tape on their headlights” is to protect them against debris and damage. 

During a rally race, cars are driven on rough and uneven terrain, and rocks and other debris can get kicked up and hit the headlights, causing damage or even shattering them. This dust, debris or moisture seeping inside the headlight housing makes the lights foggy and dim.

By taping over the headlights, drivers can protect them from such damage and ensure that they stay intact throughout the race. Otherwise, the damaged or foggy headlight could affect the driver’s visibility and ultimately impact their performance.

Taping the headlights is a quick and easy way to protect them and ensure that the driver can focus on the race without worrying about any damage to their car. 

If a headlight does get damaged, drivers can quickly replace the tape during the race to ensure that they have optimal visibility throughout.

Ability To Quickly Replace Damaged Tape During A Race

In addition to protecting the headlights from debris and damage, the tape on the headlights of rally cars also serves another important purpose – it allows drivers to quickly replace damaged tape during a race.

As mentioned earlier, the rough terrain and debris on rally tracks can cause damage to the headlights, even with the tape protecting them. However, if the tape gets damaged during the race, drivers can quickly replace it at pit stops without losing too much time.

Using duct tape to protect the headlights is also advantageous because it’s easy to tear off and reapply. This means that drivers can quickly remove the damaged tape and apply new tape without any special tools or equipment.

Duct Tape Improves Handling Around Corners

One of the more interesting reasons for “why do rally cars have tape on their headlights” is that it can improve handling around corners. This may seem counterintuitive, but the principle behind it is quite simple.

As air flows over the car at high speeds, it creates turbulence around the headlights, which can cause drag and reduce the car’s stability. 

By taping over the headlights, drivers can create a smoother, more streamlined surface that reduces turbulence and improves aerodynamics.

The improved aerodynamics can have a significant impact on the car’s handling, particularly around corners. With less drag and turbulence, the car can maintain better stability and grip on the road, allowing drivers to take corners at higher speeds and with more confidence.

What type Of Duct Tape Do They Use? And How To Use It?

Now you know why do race cars have tape on headlights. Let’s find out now what type of duct tape they use. Well, Duct tape is a versatile and strong adhesive tape that is commonly used in rally racing to secure and reinforce various parts of the car. 

200 mph tape

There are several different types of duct tape available, but the most commonly used type in rally racing is known as “200 mph tape” or “racer’s tape.”

This type of tape is typically made of a strong, woven fabric coated with a thick layer of adhesive that provides excellent bonding strength and durability. It is designed to be tear-resistant and water-resistant, making it ideal for use in harsh outdoor conditions.

How To Use It?

  1. Identify the areas of the car that are prone to damage or wear, such as the front bumper, headlights, and body panels.
  2. Tear off a strip of duct tape of the desired length.
  3. Ensure that the surface to be repaired or reinforced is clean and dry.
  4. Press the duct tape firmly onto the surface.
  5. Overlap the tape slightly to create a stronger bond.
  6. If using duct tape to secure loose or damaged parts, such as mirrors or spoilers, wrap the tape tightly around the affected area to hold it in place.
  7. Check periodically during the race to make sure the tape is still in place and functioning properly.

May be useful for you: 7 Possible Reasons Why Do LED Headlights Have Fans?

Why Taping Over Your Headlights Is No Longer Needed Today?

Taping over headlights was a common practice in rally racing in the past to protect the lights from debris and damage, as well as to improve aerodynamics and handling. 

However, with advancements in technology and materials used in modern rally cars, this practice is no longer necessary.

Modern rally cars are built with stronger and more durable materials that can withstand the harsh conditions of racing, including debris and rocks that can hit the car during high-speed driving. 

Modern rally car

In addition, headlights are now designed to be more aerodynamic and streamlined, reducing the need to tape them off for improved airflow.

Furthermore, modern rally cars are equipped with high-tech protective covers and shields that offer better protection against debris and damage, eliminating the need for taping over the headlights. 

These covers and shields are often made of strong and lightweight materials such as carbon fiber or Kevlar, which can provide ample protection without compromising the car’s performance.

However, you can die your headlights with some simple and smart tapings. Such as this guy mad an eyelid on his headlight.

Other Modifications Made To Rally Cars For Performance And Safety

In addition to the modifications made to improve aerodynamics, handling, and protection, rally cars also undergo several performance and safety modifications.


Suspension modifications are critical for handling the rough terrain and jump that is typical of rally racing. Rally cars often have a higher ride height and longer travel suspension to absorb the shocks and bumps of the terrain. This type of suspension also allows for better traction and stability on uneven surfaces.


Engine modifications are also crucial for rally racing. These modifications are designed to increase power and torque to help the car accelerate quickly out of corners and up hills. Many rally cars have turbochargers and intercoolers to boost performance.

Brake Modifications

Brake modifications are also necessary to slow down the car quickly on rough terrain. Rally cars often have larger and more powerful brakes than standard cars. 

These brakes are designed to withstand the high temperatures generated by the intense braking required during rally racing.

Roll Cages, Safety Harnesses, And Other Safety Features

Roll cages, safety harnesses, and other safety features are also essential for rally cars. Roll cages provide a rigid structure that can help protect the driver and co-driver in the event of a crash. 

Safety harnesses keep the driver and co-driver securely in their seats during high-speed maneuvers and accidents. 

Additionally, fire suppression systems, quick-release steering wheels, and other safety features are often added to rally cars to ensure the safety of the driver and co-driver.

How Does Tape Affect The Lighting Of The Rally Car?

Taping over the headlights of a rally car can have a significant impact on the brightness and visibility of the lights. When the headlights are taped over, the light output is reduced, which can make it more difficult for the driver to see the road ahead.

However, many rally drivers are accustomed to driving in low-light conditions and have developed techniques to compensate for the reduced lighting. 

Old rally car with headlights taped-Why Do Rally Cars Have Tape on Their Headlights

For example, drivers may use their high beams (high beams are drstint from regular headlights) more frequently, rely on their co-drivers instructions to navigate, or use external lighting sources to help illuminate the road ahead.

In addition, many modern rally cars are equipped with high-performance lighting systems that are designed to provide maximum visibility in even the darkest conditions. 

What Happens If The Tape Comes Off During A Race?

If the tape used to secure a car’s aerodynamic components within the headlights, such as the front splitter, side skirts, or rear wing, comes off during a race, it can have a significant impact on the car’s performance and handling.

Aerodynamic components are designed to help the car generate downforce, which helps to keep the car stable at high speeds and during cornering. If a component comes loose, it can disrupt the airflow around the car and reduce downforce, causing the car to become unstable and difficult to control.


Who first used tape on their headlights – cars or motorcycles?

It is not clear who first used tape on their headlights, whether it was cars or motorcycles, as the use of tape on headlights has been a common practice for many years.

Why do rally cars need to reduce their aerodynamic drag?

Rally cars need to reduce their aerodynamic drag to achieve higher speeds and better handling. 

By reducing drag, the car can move through the air more efficiently, which can improve its acceleration, top speed, and handling capabilities.

Will I get stopped by the police if I have tape on my headlights?

It is possible that having tape on your headlights may attract the attention of law enforcement officers, as it can obstruct the light emitted from the headlight. 

In some regions, it may also be illegal to modify the lighting on a vehicle, so it is always best to check local laws and regulations before using tape on your headlights.

Can I use any type of tape to cover my headlights?

It is important to use tape that is specifically designed for use on vehicles and headlights, as other types of tape may not be able to withstand the heat and pressure of driving. 

It is recommended to use a tape that is designed to be used on cars, such as automotive masking tape.

What happens if I accidentally get tape on my headlights and don’t remove it before driving?

If tape accidentally gets on your headlights and is not removed before driving, it can obstruct the light emitted from the headlight, reducing visibility and increasing the risk of accidents. 

It is important to clean the headlights thoroughly before driving to ensure that they are not obstructed in any way.

How often do rally car teams change the tape on their headlights during a race?

Rally car teams change the tape on their headlights frequently during a race, as the tape can become damaged or worn due to the high speeds, vibrations, and impacts associated with rally racing. 

The frequency of tape changes may vary depending on the specific conditions of the race.

Are there any downsides to using tape on rally car headlights?

One downside to using tape on rally car headlights is that it can add weight to the car, which can reduce its performance and handling capabilities. 

Additionally, the tape may not be able to withstand high temperatures, which can cause it to melt or come loose during the race.


  • Michael Alexander

    Hi, My name is Michael. I am an automotive lights enthusiast expert. I created Cooltechguide to provide authentic knowledge about car headlight problems. If you interested in knowing more about me. Feel free to contact me

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