Formula Vee celebrated its 50th birthday on track at Daytona, with a special parade of classic Formula Vee and Formula Super Vee cars prior to the 2013 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, many of them driven by legends of motorsport.
Several ex-FV drivers who went on to become international motorsports stars drove on track, including Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, who drove the very first Formula Vee car; two-time Daytona winner Elliott Forbes-Robinson; former DTM and sports car stars Hans-Joachim Stuck and Dieter Quester; and rally icon Markku Alen.
“It was great to be here,” said Phoenix resident Luyendyk. “I grew up around Formula Vee. My dad drove them and I worked on them, and Formula Vee has been a very big part of my life.” Luyendyk drove the Nardi FV that Hubert Brundage commissioned from Enrico Nardi in Italy in 1958. “I was flat out and everyone was passing me,” said Luyendyk, “which wasn’t so good, but this was special because the Formcar [modeled after the Nardi] is the first racecar I ever sat in.”
The first-ever SCCA Formula Vee race was held at the Daytona Speedway in August 1963, although cars had raced around the south-eastern U.S. prior to that event. Armed with the 40 horsepower, 1.2-liter engine and the running gear from the Volkswagen Beetle, motorsport enthusiasts put together extremely cost-effective single-seater racing cars — and launched a boom that was soon to spill over to Europe. On July 4th, 1965, Formula Vee made its official European debut in front of 50,000 spectators at the Norisring in Nuremberg, Germany.
This proved to be the start of a huge success story, to which a new chapter was added from 1971 onwards with the Formula Super Vee series, which ran parallel to the established Formula Vee 1300. FSV cars used a 1.6-liter Volkswagen engine that initially generated 120 hp, a figure that later rose to close to 200 hp.
Formula One world champions Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet, Emerson Fittipaldi, and Keke Rosberg all began their careers in Formula Vee championships, as did Le Mans winners Gijs van Lennep, Dr. Helmut Marko, and Jochen Mass. Indycar stars such as Michael Andretti, Al Unser Jr., Arie Luyendyk, and Scott Dixon competed in FV and FSV in their formative years.
Lisa Noble — Chairman of the Board of the Sports Car Club of America and owner of the company that has been building front-running engines since 1968 — joined the former motorsports stars on stage and said: “The parade was great. It brought out the history of Formula Vee and its importance as a series around the world.”