Origins

Formula SuperVee was created as a platform for the promotion of VW products.  The idea for Formula SuperVee is generally attributed to Josef Hopen who worked as the Special Vehicles Manager for Volkswagen of America.  It was Hopen who sold the idea for the new formula to the SCCA, USA based sanctioning body.  In November 1969, the SCCA launched a championship for the new car for the following year despite the fact that no cars existed at that time.


To assist the launch of the new formula, Hopen commissioned Gene Beach (an established Formula Vee constructor) to design and build the first SuperVee's.  He did so and put the first Beach SV on display at the 1970 Daytona 24 hour race.  Beach was but on of the first three constructors of Formula Vees along with Autodynamics and Formcar.  Appropriately, SuperVee's designed and built by Ray Caldwell's Autodynamics concern soon joined the Beach SV. The second SV, the Caldwell D-10 was put on display at the New York Auto Show.  Other manufacturers from the ranks of FV (such as Zink) as well as main stream manufacturer's (such as Lola) soon followed suit.


OF NOTE - John Zeitler, constructor of the Zeitler SV's built his first cars around the same time as Beach and Caldwell/Autodynamics. What is noatable is that Zeitler won the very first SV race at Lime Rock Park in 1970 running with the FF's.


Initally, the series allowed 1600cc air-cooled engines of either type III (as used in the Beetle) or Type IV (as used in the VW-Porsche 914).  That said, late stage, VW dictated the use of the type IV engine as it was a better option. Notable, the type IV engine was never produced in 1600cc displacement, so VW produced a "special" 1600cc version through their industrial engines division (127V unit), with smaller pistons and barrels, reducing capacity to 1600cc's.


Formula Super Vee evolved, as formula cars tend to, and progressed during it's life.  In 1974, eight (8) inch rear wheels, rear wings, and 34mm exhaust valves we introduced. Furthermore, the gearbox had seen evolution as well.  Originally, the regulations specified a non-Hewland gearbox so cars ran with the fixed ratio VW transaxle. In Europe a company called Metso constructed a "Hewland like box" that provided the ability to change ratios to suit each circuit, thus exploiting the wording of the regulations that simply banned Hewland boxed.  Once the cars started to use the Metso, the regulation was changed and Hewland boxes were allowed.


In 1978, engine regs were opened, allowing water-cooled engines from the VW Golf/Rabbit.  The waiter cooled engines ultimately replaced the air-cooled engines which were deemed to be uncompetitive.  The SCCA DID allow 1700cc air-cooled engines towards the end of the air-cooled period in an effort to keep them competitive with the water cooled cars joining them on the grid.


Because of politics involved with the SCCA and IMSA there are groups such as the "Monoposto Register" that do not acknowledge that the Series 1 cars even existed and do not have a class for those cars to run competitively in Vintage Racing.The allegation has been made that there never were flat bottomed, tube framed, air cooled FSV's on 6" rims running treaded tires without wings.  Those groups are poorly informed, having never read the literature relating to those early days of Formula Super Vees.  Unfortunately, some of the "Vintage" race groups simply adopt the Monoposto Register classes as gospel and in doing so require the Series 1 FSV's to run against later F-5000, Formula B and the Series 2 and Series 3 FSV's in an "Exhibition Class", rather that against the 1968 to 1973 Formula Fords where the Series 1 FSV's were originally classed.


Much later, engine regulations were also opened up, allowing water-cooled engines from the VW Golf (or Rabbit as it is known is North America).  The water cooled engines inevitable replace the air-cooled, which were rendered uncompetitive. In the UK, many of the air-cooled cars were converted to accept the water cooled engine.  The SCCA in the USA did allow 1700cc air-cooled engines towards the end of the air-cooled period to remain competitive as the water cooled cars joined the grid.


Ultimately, the most developed version of the Super Vee was to be found in the USA (due to death of the series internationally).  By the mid-80's, Super Vee in the US had supplanted Formula Atlantic as the "formula" feeder for Indy cars, so much so that the series had picked up the moniker "Mini-Indy" series.  At that time (mid-80's) Ron Tournac's Ralt RT5 had a monopoly in the US series.