Formula Super Vee

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Formula Super Vee racing at Nurburgring in 1975. 1975-07-12 Formel Super V Nr. 17 u. 13 = Kaimann, Nr. 39 Lola T 320.jpg
Formula Super Vee racing at Nürburgring in 1975.

Formula Super Vee was an open-wheel racing series that took place in Europe and the United States from 1970 to 1990. The formula was created as an extension of Formula Vee, a racing class that was introduced in 1959. Formula Super Vee in Europe was similar to F3 or Formula Renault today, a stepping stone to F1. In the United States, Formula Super Vee, often referred to as Super Vee, was a natural progression to Indy Car and Can-Am. On both sides of the Atlantic the series also was a platform for the promotion of VW products, similar to how Formula Renault promotes Renault products today. [1] [2] [3]

Contents

Initially it was seen as a simple step up from Formula Vee, using the same type 3 air-cooled VW engines, but in 1600cc. However it soon transformed to using the very different and more powerful fuel injected water-cooled engines from the VW Golf/Rabbit. [1] [2]

History

To assist the launch of the new formula Volkswagen of America's, Jo Hopen, commissioned Gene Beach, an established constructor of Formula Vee cars, to design and build the first Super Vee and put this car on display at the Daytona 24 hour race. [4] [5] Beach was one of the first three constructors of Formula Vees, along with Autodynamics and Formcar. [6] It is therefore appropriate that a Super Vee designed and built by Ray Caldwell’s Autodynamics concern soon joined the Beach Super Vee. This second Super Vee (the Caldwell D-10) was put on display at the New York Auto Show. [7] [8] Other manufacturers soon followed suit, with Formula Vee constructors such as Zink Cars joined by more mainstream firms such as Lola. [9] [10] John Zeitler also built his first cars around the same time as Beach and Caldwell. As a matter of fact, John Zeitler won the very first Super Vee race at Lime Rock Park in 1970. [5] This race was run with the Formula Ford class.

Initially the series allowed 1600cc air-cooled engines of either type 3 (as used in the VW 1500 and 1600) or type 4 (as used in the VW 411, 412 and the VW-Porsche 914/4 sports car), however at a late stage VW had a change of heart and decided that the type 4 engines would be a better option. The type 4 engine is without doubt a better engine. However, this motor was never produced in a 1600cc version so VW decided to produce a "special" 1600cc version through their industrial engines division (the 127V unit), with smaller pistons and barrels, which reduced the capacity to 1600cc. [11] [12]

As with any formula, Formula Super Vee progressed through a number of changes during its life. Initially, for example, the cars ran without wings and used drum brakes at the rear. Later the regulations allowed the use of 8-inch rear wheels, rear disc brakes and 34 mm exhaust valves (1973) and then rear wings (1975). Since slick tyres had yet to be introduced into racing, the cars ran with treaded racing tyres, such as the Firestone "No-DOT", but later moved onto slicks. [13] [14]

The original regulations specified a non-Hewland gearbox and cars ran with fixed ratio VW boxes. [13] In Europe a company called Metso began building Hewland-like boxes which provided the ability to change ratios to suit each circuit and exploited the wording of the regulations, which had simply banned Hewland boxes rather than explicitly specifying the fixed ratio VW box. Once the cars started to use Metso boxes the regulations were changed and Hewland Gearboxes were also allowed. [15] This change, combined with start money being offered by Hewland to drivers using its products, effectively put Metso out of business, although the company did build boxes for other formula cars such as Formula Fords. [16]

Mark Smith leading Robbie Groff in a Super Vee race at the 1988 Grand Prix of Cleveland. Mark Smith Formula Super Vee Grand Prix of Cleveland 1988.jpg
Mark Smith leading Robbie Groff in a Super Vee race at the 1988 Grand Prix of Cleveland.

Much later, engine regulations were also opened up, allowing fuel injected water-cooled engines from the Volkswagen Golf (or Rabbit as the Mk1 was known in North America). The water-cooled engines inevitably replaced the air-cooled, which were rendered uncompetitive, and many air-cooled cars were converted to accept the water-cooled engine. [17] Some constructors, such as Lola, offered "conversion kits" which allowed the fitment of the Golf/Rabbit engine to earlier air-cooled chassis. The SCCA in the USA did allow 1700cc air-cooled engines towards the end of the air-cooled period, to remain competitive while the water-cooled cars joined the grid.

Ultimately the most developed version of Super Vee was to be found in the USA, since they continued with a Super Vee series years after the formula had died away elsewhere. Indeed, by late 70s Super Vee in the USA had become the feeder formula for Indy cars, referred to as the "Mini-Indy" series. This series was run in conjunction with the much older VW-Bosch "Gold Cup" for Super V. This series lasted until 1990 and, unlike the oval track USAC Mini Indy Series, was a road racing series. Each series crowned its own champion each year. In the late 70s the Ron Tauranac designed the Ralt RT1 and RT5, based on his Formula 3 designs, had a virtual monopoly in the USA series.

The original Formula Super Vee series specifications

Champions

SCCA Super Vee Gold Cup (professional) (USA)

SeasonChampion DriverChassis
1971 Flag of the United States.svg Bill Scott Royale RP9
1972 Flag of the United States.svg Bill Scott Royale RP14
1973 Flag of Sweden.svg Bertil Roos Tui BH3
1974 Flag of the United States.svg Elliott Forbes-Robinson Lola T320
1975 Flag of the United States.svg Eddie Miller Lola T324
1976 Flag of the United States.svg Tom Bagley Zink Z11
1977 Flag of the United States.svg Bob Lazier Lola T324
1978 Flag of the United States.svg Bill Alsup Argo JM2
1979 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Geoff Brabham Ralt RT1
1980 Flag of the United States.svg Peter Kuhn Ralt RT1/RT5
1981 Flag of the United States.svg Al Unser Jr. Ralt RT5
1982 Flag of the United States.svg Michael Andretti Ralt RT5
1983 Flag of the United States.svg Ed Pimm Anson SA4
1984 Flag of the Netherlands.svg Arie Luyendyk Ralt RT5
1985 Flag of the United States.svg Ken Johnson Ralt RT5
1986 Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Didier Theys Martini MK-47/MK-50
1987 Flag of the United States.svg Scott Atchison Ralt RT5
1988 Flag of the United States.svg Ken Murillo Ralt RT5
1989 Flag of the United States.svg Mark Smith Ralt RT5
1990 Flag of the United States.svg Stuart Crow Ralt RT5

USAC Mini-Indy (professional) (USA)

SeasonChampion DriverChassis
19771 Flag of the United States.svg Tom Bagley Zink Z11
Flag of the United States.svg Herm Johnson Lola T324
1978 Flag of the United States.svg Bill Alsup Argo JM2
1979 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Dennis Firestone March
1980 Flag of the United States.svg Peter Kuhn Ralt RT1/RT5
1Bagley and Johnson tied in the points and were declared co-champions.

Formel Super Vau GTX (Germany)/German Formula Super Vee Championship

SeasonChampion DriverChassis
1972 Flag of Liechtenstein.svg Manfred Schurti Royale RP9
1973 Flag of Sweden.svg Kennerth Persson Kaimann
1974 Flag of Sweden.svg Kennerth Persson Kaimann
1975 Flag of Finland.svg Keke Rosberg Kern-Kaimann
1976 Flag of Finland.svg Mika Arpiainen Veemax Mk VIII
1977 Flag of Germany.svg Dieter Engel Veemax Mk VIII
1978 Flag of Germany.svg Helmut Henzler March 783

Formula Super Vau Gold Pokal (Europe)/European Formula Super Vee Championship

SeasonChampion DriverChassis
1971 Flag of Austria.svg Erich Breinberg Austro Kaimann
1972 Flag of Liechtenstein.svg Manfred Schurti Royale RP9
1973 Flag of Austria.svg Helmuth Koinigg Austro Kaimann
1974 Flag of Sweden.svg Freddy Kottulinsky Lola T320
1975 Flag of Finland.svg Mikko Kozarowitzky Lola T324
1976 Flag of Finland.svg Mika Arpiainen Veemax Mk VII
1977 Flag of the Netherlands.svg Arie Luyendyk Lola T326
1978 Flag of Germany.svg Helmut Henzler March 783
1979 Flag of Denmark.svg John Nielsen Ralt RT1
1980 Flag of Denmark.svg John Nielsen Ralt RT5
1981 Flag of Denmark.svg John Nielsen Ralt RT5
1982 Flag of Austria.svg Walter Lechner Ralt RT5

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References

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  4. "Gene Beach - Passion Meets Performance". Beach Racing Cars. Beach Racing Cars. Archived from the original on 27 January 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2019. ...when Volkswagen of America's Jo Hoppen wanted to created a new, faster class, he tapped Gene to design a car for what would become Formula Super Vee. Gene's prototype was used as the basis for FSV class in America, and later went to Europe.
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  11. "The Formula Vee. Since 1963". Volkswagen-Motorsports. Volkswagen. Archived from the original on 1 February 2019. Retrieved 1 February 2019. Formula Super Vee was launched in 1971. The Volkswagen engines boasted displacement of 1.6 litres and initially delivered up to around 120 hp. Here, too, engine performance improved rapidly and hit the 150 hp mark after just a few years, eventually even rising to almost 200 hp.
  12. Ernst, Kurt. "Volkswagen Formula Vee series celebrates 50th anniversary". Hemmings Daily. Hemmings. Archived from the original on 1 February 2019. Retrieved 1 February 2019. In 1970, a faster class of Formula Vee, dubbed Formula Super Vee, was introduced. Super Vee used larger displacement four-cylinder engines (1.6-liters, versus 1.2 liters in Formula Vee), permitted liquid cooling, allowed the use of dual carburetors, and was less restrictive about changes to cylinder heads and cams.
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  15. "Lola Super Vee". Motor Sport Archive. Motor Sport Magazine Limited. p. 50. Archived from the original on 14 February 2019. Retrieved 14 February 2019. The gearbox is a Mk 8 Hewland, which means four forward gears, reverse, no synchromesh, a normal H change pattern and VW casing.
  16. "A Real Factory". Elden Racing Cars. Elden Racing cars. Archived from the original on 14 February 2019. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  17. "The Zeitler Super Vee". John zeitler Formula Racing. Archived from the original on 26 June 2020. Retrieved 26 June 2020. This is an article about the change from aircooled Supervee's to water-cooled