The fortieth year of Formula Vee racing in South Africa, gets underway with the first round of the 2005 SA National Formula Vee Championship at the Zwartkops International World of Motoring, on the R55 Pretoria West, on Saturday 19 February 2005. Racing is due to start at 11h00 and includes Inland Championship events. for Thundercars, Porsche Challenge, VW Challenge, Super Hatch, Formula Libre/Formula M and Silvercup cars. Two motorcycle categories are also competing at the event, one being the BMW Boxer Cup Africa series, along with the inaugural race, for the new Michelin Zwartkops Thunderbike Challenge. The Formula Vee National Championship events, are due to be run at 12h40 and 16h40.
Based on Volkswagen Beetle components and introduced in the United Sates, by Hurbert Brundage in 1963, Formula Vee was introduced into South Africa in 1965. The first three cars competed in a Club Race meeting at Kyalami, on the 15th May 1965 and six weeks later, the first Formula Vee race in South Africa, was run at the same venue. Since those early days, the category has evolved and the only Beetle components on a modern day South African Formula Vee car, are the front beam and the gearbox. The Volkswagen Citi Golf engine, replaced the Beetle engine a number of years ago and the capacity of the current engine, is 1400cc. The cars run twin Webber Carburetors, a performance camshaft and are fitted with disc brakes. In various forms, Formula Vee Championships continue to be run around the World, including the United Sates Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
The 2003 South African Formula Vee title, went to twenty year old David Veringa (Sabat Rhema) who went on to finish second in the 2004 SA National Zetec Formula Ford Championship. By contrast, the 2004 SA National Formula Vee Championship, went to a forty three year old veteran of Formula Vee racing in South Africa, Symm Grobler (Auto Mecca Rhema 2). This was Grobler’s first National title, since moving to the category from Moto Cross about ten years ago. For 2005, Grobler remains in the category and will be out to defend his title, against a host of highly experienced Formula Vee campaigners and the current crop of very competitive teenage ex Karters.
Although still in his twenties, Alan Holm (JBS Laser Sprint Rhema 2) has more that ten years of Formula Vee racing experience. In 2004, he took the runner up spot for the second time in his Formula Vee career and will be hoping to improve on that, in 2005. His JBS Laser Sprint teammate, Jaco Schriks, emerged as a front-runner during the 2004 season and must also be a force to be reckoned with, in 2005. The 2000 National Title holder Dennis Johns (Goldco Midas Rhema 2) is hoping to be able to secure the resources, to mount another challenge for the title, while the 1999 National Champion, forty three year old veteran Peter Hills, soldiers on in his Vacuform Rhema. At this stage, it is still unclear if the 2001 titleholder Lee Thompson (08Xconnect Rhema) will be competing in Formula Vee, as well as in the Engen Polo Cup series but if he does, he can also not be ruled out, as a Championship contender for 2005. Another ex Champion in the field, will be the 1997 and 1998 National Champion Anthony Taylor (Rigidek Rhema 2) but the focus of his efforts for 2005, will be directed toward his son Michael’s National Championship campaign, in the GP Junior Karting category.
Up against this wealth of talent, will be teenage ex Karters Andre Van Der Merwe (ACC Air-conditioning Rhema 2), Kyle Bennett (Rhema), Trevor Bland (Rhema) and newcomer Laurent Calkoen (Vision). Their task will be made easier, by the introduction of a semi slick racing tyre for the 2005 season, easing the learning curve for them and all of them, have the talent to mount a serious Championship challenge. The most successful of the teenage ex Karters, during the 2004 season, Jonathan Vilaca, will not be racing during his matric year and his car has been sold to Calkoen. Other newcomers to the series, for 2005, include teenage Junior Moto Cross rider Ronald Knight (Vision) and Barry Gove (Sting).
Hoping to get even closer to the front in 2005, will be the likes of development driver Benny Phetla (Vacuform Rhema), the Cartmell brothers Kevin and Claude (Rand Brake Stings), Jannie Geyser (Vision), Bradley Martin (Rhema 2) and Cape Town’s Doug MacDonald (Rhema). Cape Town’s Chris Danks, is also planning to compete at National level in 2005, having acquired the ex Wayne Bennett Rhema 2 and any competitors still competing on road tyres, will compete for the Formula Vee Association Competition in 2005, as well as still being eligible to score National Championship points. The leading competitors at this level, should be Alan Kernick (Tasman) and Bobby Nel (Lantis). Close competitive racing, should once again be the order of the day, all the way through the field, throughout the year..
The Formula Vee Fourtith Anniversary event, is planned for November 2005 and will once again include overseas participation.