1600cc, class b, new engine, polo, proposal, regulations, rev limiter, rules, UK, watercooled
Essentially the only differences between a UK Class A Formula Vee and a Class B car are that Class B cars:
- Must use steel dampers
- Can only use dampers with one adjustment (ie combined bound & rebound)
- Must have the dampers attached to the lower trailing arm and the beam or chassis (so they’re on the outside of the car bodywork)
- Can only use a maximum of 2 coil spring/dampers for the rear.
So the theoretical advantages are the suspension components are cheaper to buy and simpler to use, and will likely be heavier than those allowed for Class A cars….
And, umm, that’s about it.
It means that whilst the dampers are much older technology, it’s arguable that using more modern stuff (within Class A rules) will make the car any quicker at all, let alone be a big difference. Overall car/driver weight is the same for both classes, so you can just offset the damper weight by using a lithium battery or eating two less burger at the Vee Centre Annual BBQ!
As clear and definitive proof of this, James Harridge has won races outright in his Class B Maverick – in fact he’s only in Class B to make the point that there is no difference. I believe Ian Jordan could also run in Class B and whilst winning races overall, but chooses not to.
I’m proud to be in Class B, and take the championship seriously, but even I have to admit there is no real difference, so it’s pretty pointless.
So what is the point of a Class B?
To be cheaper? To allow cars of a different specification to race? To reward newer/slower/less ‘financially gifted’ drivers?
At the moment, it’s none of these things – which is a shame because it could really be used to do so much more! For drivers and for the championship overall. Anything that gets more cars out on the grid is a good thing, right?
Now at this point I have to state that I don’t think Class A regs should change. Class A should be the hardcore, tune everything until it breaks class – and ALL cars from any class should still be Class A by default.
Here are my proposals for what Class B should be:
Class B is for new drivers. It gives them a chance to win a trophy whilst still learning their skills. If you finish in the top 3 in B Class, you’re automatically shifted up to Class A from the next season, so it keeps fresh blood in B.
Vee Centre Style:
Class B points are only awarded to anyone finishing outside the top 10. This makes it all a bit more fun, and also means that when you do progress into the overall top 10, you stop scoring any B Class points. So effectively your reward for outgrowing Class B is that you’re already finishing in the overall top 10.
Those are the quick and easy options that will cost nothing for anyone. Then we get into the more meaty options:
1600cc aircooled VW engines:
Again, this is basically adopting the Irish series regs for Class B. Because all the Class A people will already be frothing with outrage, it’s probably a good idea to have controls on these cars, again much like the Irish series, so that overall they’re not as fast as the Class A cars.
The Irish cars, as we’ve seen when we’re combined on track, are pretty evenly matched and yet have different strengths and weaknesses. They run on smaller wheels, different tyres and have a control camshaft, which (in theory) keep the cars very even.
Our Class A cars definitely have the legs in them in top speed, but they have more grunt – this means a Class B car could win overall, on the right track.
The biggest advantage is that the controls keep the cars reliable to the point that you can stick an engine in for a season or two and not touch it – something our current 1300’s couldn’t even dream of. As engine costs are huge in our series, this could mean a massive saving, and that new people with no mechanical skills would have a much better chance in the championship.
As a bonus, if we did adopt the full Irish Vee regs, it would mean all of their cars would now be eligible to race with our series as Class B cars, and we could also go racing with them in Ireland.
When I’ve raised this with drivers I’ve found massive backlash – but why? Just carry on with your Class A cars and regs! You don’t NEED to change anything!
Watercooled Polo engines:
Another suggestion is switching in a totally different engine, such as the watercooled Polo. This would mean much cheaper, much more reliable, and more powerful engines with greatly reduced costs.
The downsides are that they would be outright winners unless you hamstrung everyone, and could mean massive changes to chassis to get them to fit. And is it losing the whole spirit of Formula Vee, even with a VW engine?
Anyone can buy anyone elses engine for a set fee.
This would mean there would be no point spending thousands on your engine, because after every race everyone else has the option of buying your engine, and you have to sell it for that set price.
Very controversial, and no doubt comes with a whole heap of problems, but a great way to stop costs spiralling…
These should make the formula cheaper and more accessible, and preferably raise reliability. Obviously, targeting engine costs and reliability are the best targets here.
Cheap and easy options are:
- Add a rev limiter
- Raise minimum weight
- Control camshaft
Oh, and I missed a couple of things out!
Age of Car – we could do a lot more to get the hoards of old Vee’s out of sheds and back on track! Maybe having Class B as cars over 15 years old would knock out the newer and more expensive to buy cars in one fell swoop, and encourage owners of all the 90’s cars to get rebuilding? Maybe even Class C for the proper vintage Vee’s – I know Glenn Hay has a 60s Beech (or is it Beach?) that could see the light of day again if we had anything to race it in, and the 70s Scarab Mk I.
This also has the plus-side that it really shouldn’t affect the front-running A’s, as it’s doubtful any 60s spec cars would be able to win races outright. I should note that it wouldn’t be entirely my choice, as drivers like Ben Miloudi have proved it is still possible to win races in a 20 year old car that’s well prepared – so to me a “15 year or older” Class B still isn’t enough of a difference – although it would make it easier to enter B as in theory all cars would be cheaper to buy than modern machinery.
I should have also mentioned that the older Class B regs from around 2008(?) had Class B cars using points ignition. It was an attempt to distinguish the classes, but in reality just meant to be in Class B you had to put up with severe unreliability and a multitude of problems – so I’m definitely not suggesting we go back to that!
Martin Woodman said:
As a driver in the 70s, I am amazed the Vee grid has so many cars still running the old 1300 engine. Even in my day reliability was never brilliant especially when the regs changed and got rid of the fan belt and cooling fan (the fan belts kept flying off at the revs we were using).
When I have visited races this year, the one common thing i have seen is mechanics with their heads in their engines and grease up to their elbows.
Formula have to evolve with time, reliability and availability / cost of parts. The original 750 formula shows how engine evolution can occur.
Reliability must be good for full grids of amateur, self prepared and low cost racing cars.
I look forward to see what direction the regs go and the continued success of this great formula.
Well the 1300 parts aren’t getting cheaper or more plentiful, that’s for sure! Engine repairs and rebuilds are definitely what send costs spiralling, whereas a ‘lucky’ season where you just leave the engine alone can be done for around £3000 pretty easily. That’s going to bring a lot more people into Vee!
I like the 750 formula example – it shows a bit of a change doesn’t have to kill the purity (and fun!) of a series, if it’s done right.
At the moment I’m liking the 1600cc idea, or saying B class if for “Pre-2000” cars with either a higher minimum weight or maybe even a rev limiter to stop them going bang so often?
There’s a lot of discussion on Facebook when I posted this, so it’s well worth having a look at the thread on ‘James Cater Racing’ there, if you’re interested!
Mike Rupp said:
Pretty good point with the engines. I have also recognised that 1300 barrels are more expensive than the 1600 and 1300SP heads are also becoming rare. With the sp heads in FV spec you need custom made intake manifolds while on DP you could buy parts off the shelf which should be in first place. However you would put AHS and Co probably out of business 😉
Nevertheless I’m fan of a 1600 engine and there need to be a change as parts becoming rare and more expensive. Water cooled wouldn’t be an option in my opinion too as often you’ll need to make big changes to the chassis and you might need an adapter plate
Exactly! Things need to change to keep them alive…
That said, I’d hate to see Vee go water cooled – I think that being a very rare aircooled series is part of the appeal, and shows off the rare and dying skills of those who can tune these engines.
I still think tightly controlled 1600 engines are the way to go for a cheaper and more reliable class, even if that’s not the main class.
Mike Rupp said:
I would really welcome this change. In FVee Brasil they used 1600 with a Engle cam, Counterbalanced crank etc. The only difference was that they were running on alcohol fuel and fuel injection. Anyway i don’t know if I will manage to join the championship this year but for sure next year!