All photos credit Romain Dumas

It would be too easy to ask this question of any era, with oddities like the Chaparral 2J “sucker car” in the mix. So, I’ll ask it of today’s race cars: what’s the most incredible, ridiculous race car currently in use?

It would be easy to whip out some insane time attack racer with a giant wing sticking off the front of the car, or a DTM car that is now more canard than BMW, but the latest car to make me stop and go “whoa, what is that?” has to be the Norma MXX Romain Dumas is taking up Pikes Peak.

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Pike’s Peak has one of the more open rulebooks in existence, allowing competitors to go nuts on cars like this. The ex-Porsche LMP1 racer’s car is just one incredible mass of aerodynamic bits, topped off with a caged-off open cockpit.

Dumas has taken Norma prototypes up the Peak before, but I can’t get over how crazy this year’s car looks. Maybe it’s the new livery that makes things more obvious, but all the hallmarks of lunacy are there: huge front wing with giant endplates, vents on vents on vents on vents over the front wheels, partially-covered rear wheels, and a giant wing big enough to make airplanes jealous in the back.

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It’s a carbon monocoque race car that weighs only 1697 lbs, with all wheels powered by a Honda HPD K20 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine. That doesn’t sound too insane until you realize that the four-banger K20 is pumping out approximately 570 horsepower. (The full spec sheet is here, for the curious.)

So, there’s my pick. Which modern race car made you do a double-take?