My two cents:
There are other ways to make a car fast besides writing a blank check. Claimer rules do not differentiate between excessive budgets and creative engineering. I am very familiar with be scrutinized for having an ultra-cheaty BMW, but the reality is that I have a below-average amount of money investing into my cart / build compared to other teams.
...but you race cheaty BMW!
It's a 20+ year old E39 5-series. Nobody wants a 5 series because they're "big and heavy" so you can buy them for <$1000 all day long. Sell the seats and scrap the unused components and you'll probably make back close to what you paid for the car. Oh yeah, a race prepped E39 is only 200-300 lbs heavier than a race prepped E46.
Ok then, explain that cheaty ass LS swap !
Go to any pick-n-pull on a $99 engine-pull-Sunday and yank one of the million Chevy truck motors that litter the yards. If you've clever and patient enough, you might just found the rare and elusive disposable GM SUV that came with an aluminum block LS-based V8. Again, for $99 and a little bit of sweat equity, it's yours for the taking!
Yeah, but like... computers and shit
$99 gets your EVERYTHING. That includes the wire harness and ECU. Remember that part when I said this requires creativity? Sit down with a Mitchell's wiring guide and pin that bitch out. Yeah it sucks and yeah it takes time... but there's this place called the 'internet' (ever heard of it before?) that has all these wonderful resources on how to program these ECUs to do whatever you want them to. In fact, there is a FREE open source programmer available for earlier GM Truck based LS controllers that can programmed with your PHONE these days.
If you have a manual transmission LS swap, it MUST be a T-56 and those are like $2500!
If you have the means to do it, plenty of team have bought smashed / salvaged cars with T-56 transmissions and parted out the entire car while saving the transmission for themselves. Often, they still turn a profit on selling the salvaged parts and essentially get a 'free' transmission. Again, there is no limit on sweat equity.
However, not all of us have a full blown wrecking yard at our disposal. This is where creativity heavily comes into play. Instead of swapping in even more GM parts, you have the option to simply cut the bell housing off of your $50 BMW transmission (they are no-joke a dime a dozen) and weld a GM bellhousing onto it in its place. This was one of my most proud Lemons moments, but also one of the least appreciated. Even Judge Eric completely glossed over this detail at its first race and made the stereotypical "...it obviously has a T56." Again, there is no cap on creativity. Everyone is guilty at some point of underestimating the creativity or sweat equity of their fellow racer.
Long winded conclusion:
In closing, claimers do more than just take away the monetary investment from a car / team. They also take away the sweat equity and creativity that the previous owner(s) spent countless hours developing and executing. A great example of this is the Geo MetSHO with the twin turbo Taurus SHO motor in the back. The original owners spent MILLIONS of man-hours building and maintaining that car. There was a thousand page "owners manual" that went along with the car when it was sold to the new owner detailing every last intricate detail to the car. It has unfortunately sat in a warehouse since it was sold as the new owner severely underestimated the level of creative commitment that car requires.
I guess you could say the MetSHO was 'claimed' by its new owner, but will likely never return to its previous glory since the new owner doesn't have the same creativity and / or vision for the car that the original owner(s) had. Until there's a way to claim creativity and ambition to put in the sweat equity, there will always be a disparity between teams.
The Pentastar whisperer