Now I know firebugs was a different dev and they had a different attitude towards player punishment but they did have one really neat stand-out pick-up: a catch-up portal/warp.
Basically, after activation, it would be held in front of the car as it charged and grew in size. Once big enough, it would create a portal a couple of places(but never first)/a certain distance ahead from the spot it was fully charged at, propelling the car the created it and any that managed to get in before it dissipated (generally seemed to hang about for 3-5 seconds.)
It was a genuinely cool and brilliant tool to keep the race changing and exciting. Also the sound of it was fantastic.
I'd say it's something to look into, especially now we can have proper portals.