Many people in the Mondello Park paddock, both these days and in times gone by, have a lot to thank David Sheane for. Not only has the quiet spoken man from Blainroe, just outside Wicklow Town, been responsible for mending, tuning and loaning cars to struggling competitors on race day, but it was he who originally brought Formula Vee to Ireland.
Back in the mid 70s, FF1600 was incredibly popular on these shores, with the suggestion that if you could win at Mondello Park, you could win anywhere being proved true on a yearly basis. David though, coming from a VW background, had learned about Formula Vee in other countries and thought it might be a viable budget entry level class for wannabe single seater drivers.
Not far off 50 years later, it appears David had a valid point- the class is as strong as ever, and his chassis are still right at the front. Former karter Paul Heavey, a front running Vee racer, designed and built his own car in the early 1990s, the Leastone JH001. Soon, he was asked for replicas and soon there were quite a few Leastones amongst the Sheanes on the grid. A few “foreign” chassis joined them, but not since Kerry Lawless’ “Project” in the early 80s, has the championship been won by anything other than a Sheane or a Leastone, further proving the quality of the Irish designed and built chassis is the fact that both have been super successful in the UK 750MC championship too.
In the early 1990s, the class had well over 50 competitors, necessitating three races, and A, B and C, at each race meeting. Since then number have decreased, but in the last number of years, the class is on the up once again. The key to this may be their “Star of Tomorrow” rookie series, which entices newbies aboard each year, many of whom go on to challenge right at the front in the A series as they gain experience. For 2021, it appears that Formula Vee will once again field the largest grid numbers in the ICCR!
Internationally, Formula Vee can lay claim to having fielded no less than three former F1 world champions- with Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda and Keke Rosberg all having raced in the class. In more recent times, it is a little known fact that current- and double BTCC Champion Ash Sutton started his career in UK Formula Vee- so despite the moderate costs, it’s as good a place to launch a career as any!
Anthony Cross is the reigning National champion- and has been for the past three years! He is back for 2021 and won’t be easily beaten but, as ever in Formula Vee, he faces stiff opposition. Jack Byrne has come on in leaps and bounds in recent times, and two overall wins in 2020 will have given him the impetus to mount a serious title challenge this season. Leastone’s Mark Reade has the potential to be as fast as anyone on occasion, and he is well capable of springing a surprise too. Jordan Kelly is a perfect example of a rookie challenging at the front- and he too is back for more in 2021- can he challenge for overall honours?
Interested? There are still a couple of weeks to go before the ICCR takes to the track at Mondello Park, and there are always cars available for sale or rent. As the lotto ad says, “It could be you!”