History of Formula Vee  (Page 2)   - From Alan Harding's European website


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(continued from Page1)
In global terms the demise was felt mostly in Europe. In fact there is now an historic Vee class of racing based in Holland. Vee had been plugging on in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. In Ireland and the US it was going great guns. A core of enthusiasts had kept it going in Germany and it would be true to say that Vee racing still exists today in Finland for example but there are few cars, mostly historic and in their own class in races with lots of other single-seaters. Regulations have localised to each country and whilst the Germans use the Polo engine and aerofoils, the Irish use the standard Beetle 1600 engine. Contrast the Irish who have recently renamed their series from “Formula VW” to “Formula Vee” with the Aussies who are “going modern” by changing their name to “Formula First” which have regs similar to the UK.

In the 1980s new chasses came on the scene from the US – three Predators (one from 2001 champion Jeremy Clark) and Citation conversions called Spyders from Mike Steley. The cockpits of these “lay-down” cars in the tradition of the US oval slip-streamers needed to be widened to conform to UK rules. These were followed by customer cars from Ireland. Cars from the stable of David Sheane in Naas were ubiquitous in Ireland for years and needed very little changing to fit the UK regs. Paul Heavey followed suit first with a Leastone for the victorious Ray Moore and then production versions thereafter.

Also the series acquired several recognised engine builders who could produce quick reliable engines. Graham Card who for so long built Beetle engines for aeroplanes turned his skills easily to Formula Vee with the GAC concern. Also emerging from the shadows was Mac Daghorn who so long had been the builder of a select few powerful engines was supplying his services to more drivers. Andy Storer who from being the first Scarab 2 customer had now taken over the franchise to produce the Scarab and supplied engines of his own under the RSS banner. A similar route was taken by current Formula Vee Official Alan Harding who once owned an Austro and now builds a great deal of Vee engines using his initials AHS. Now both GAC & AHS offer new cars.

The Vee package was now strong enough to support the concept of race hire which really took off in the 1980s with 4 or 5 teams now running race hire operations. This has become such a feature that first-timers in motor racing are targeted for this route, particularly at the Racing Car Show. In fact Formula Vee now introduces more novices than any other single-seater category.

So popular was the category that in 1990 the Formula Vee Centre was formed to harness the desire for a social club for drivers and their families. The Exhibition stand, BBQs, End of Season Awards and test days are all arranged through this club-within-a-club.

Because drivers are so keen to race their cars they persuaded the 750 Motor Club to organise a single-seater relay which they supported well. Vee’s 30th birthday was a festival at Brands Hatch with a feature on BBC’s Top Gear TV programme with Tiff Needell doing the driving and several international drivers racing in their own and “allcomers” races. Also the clock is being turned back as UK drivers are competing successfully abroad. Firstly there were sojourns to Scotland and races at Phoenix Park, Dublin and Mondello. Then they provided the core of drivers to race with the 750 Motor Club at Croix, France. Now regularly a group of UK drivers race in the German Formel Vau Series which has expanded outside the country to such places as Spa, Dijon and Monza and allows UK-specification cars to race with them. In fact for two years an Englishman actually won the German Formel Vau championship. Some “Brits” also compete in the historic European series and other intrepid drivers - Andy Storer, John Bowles, John Randall and Trevor Welsh - have competed in the US Formula Vee run-offs in the US.

So now, beyond its 35th year, a form of motorsport that was based on similar equipment for all has flourished by retaining that adage and is the most popular and successful single seater formula in the world.

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