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The Wheatcroft 'period' cars


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#1 Mac Lark

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 05:09

Remember the bunch of Holbay (?) powered front engined open wheelers Tom Wheatcroft commissioned a few years ago? - my guess was 5 yrs but it's probably more like 10 :drunk:

Are there still races for them? If so - where (other than Donington) and when.

If no - where are they all?

How many ever got built?

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#2 Macca

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 08:05

They were advertised for sale as a package a couple of years ago, still owned by Donington/Wheatcroft IIRC.

There hasn't been a race series for some years, I can't remember if they raced for one season or two - only that Martin Donnolly dominated.

Stupid-looking things, called 'Formula Classic' but looked more like US sprint cars than 1950s F1s, and all painted red - dull.


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#3 Rob29

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 08:22

I think they only ever raced once-at Donington.Agree they looked stupid,when anounced they said they would look like 250F Maseratis-no way :cry:

#4 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 08:44

I agree, the alloy wheels were pure Halford's Boy Racer as well...
For something built from scratch that could have looked like any great single seater in history I do wonder why they looked as they did - like big versions of Westfield's midget racer. Who was the designer ?
They also had the wrong engines. Originally Vauxhall Carlton 6 cylinder units were quoted which would have allowed a suitable soundtrack even when silenced but they emerged with a 4 cylinder Ford engine that didn't sound right at all. From what I recall the modern tyres they used didn't promote the 4-wheel-drifts suggested by the PR blurb either.
And why all red? That really was folly. "Formula anonyomous"

Generally a nice idea , in theory, but not excecuted at all well. Pity

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#5 Bonde

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 09:09

In my book the series suffered from the outset, apart from not looking the part at all, among other things, of being single make. If anyone wanted a skinny tyred, front engined formula, why not make it open to a variety of chassis and engines? Say, max. 2,5 litre "donors", preferably straight-sixes, Webers or Dellortos, mandatory wire wheels, Dunlop Racing Vintage tyres, space frame chassis, aluminium bodywork (okay, perhaps look-alike fibre glass). One-make single seater classes of the fifties were more or less confined to the soon defunct Cisitalia D46 and the French DB Monomill anyway, weren't they?

BTW: http://www.227sport.com/special.htm

Amazing, really, that a man of Wheatcroft's calibre and with his heart definitely in the right place could get it so wrong...

'Nuff said.

#6 Mallory Dan

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 10:33

Single-make stinks.

Why is there such reluctance at the moment to setting up a new formula rules/regs, and letting car and engine designers work around them ? Even if they all ended up looking similar, at least there'd be some variety. All down to money I guess...

#7 Patrick Fletcher

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 11:04

Originally posted by Bonde


BTW: http://www.227sport.com/special.htm

Amazing, really, that a man of Wheatcroft's calibre and with his heart definitely in the right place could get it so wrong...

In defence this was the the Monaco nose............... and tail [a first]

#8 RTH

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 12:57

One - make racing.........Who ever cares.

#9 Gary C

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 13:05

'One - make racing.........Who ever cares.'
True !!

#10 BRG

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 14:48

I do. Some of the best RACING I have ever seen has been in one-make series. It all depends if you are interested in seeing the drivers actually competing on equal terms or if you prefer to mix in a technical competition between constructors and engine builders as well. I see plenty of room for both and no need to decry one as less worthy.

Having said which, I agree that the whole Formula Classic saga was an ill-begotten mess and a waste of effort and money.

#11 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 15:00

Originally posted by Gary C
'One - make racing.........Who ever cares.'
True !!

Yep Variety is the spice of life in motor sport - one-make racing was OK when it was something quite rare and unusual (Mini's & R5's in the 70s and so forth) but once it becomes the standard fare at a club meeting it's a real turn-off unless you want to watch first corner carnage...


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#12 BRG

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 15:25

Originally posted by simonlewisbooks
it's a real turn-off unless you want to watch first corner carnage...

After all, we have the F1 field to provide us with that, don't we - if Suzuka was anything to go by.

#13 ensign14

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 16:14

There is a distinct problem though.

Most formulae turn into 1 make eventually. Look at Indy, most cars were Kurtis in the 50s, March in the 80s, Reynard/Lola in the 90s.

Formula 2 was dominated by single makes for a long time. Ditto F3000. British F3 is a Dallara-fest.

The lower formulae are seen as driver-led, so they become single makes as Johnny Ridebuyer wants the best car sponsors can buy to help him into F1. No interest in a 3 year project to move Manetta from a lock-up in Modena to F2 domination. Even if not de jure, it becomes thus de facto.

But how can chassis expertise develop other than as part of an F1 team or one of the junior formulae monopolies? There's no ladder of success. OK, I know not many DID make it to F1 from building lesser cars, but you could say Project 4, Minardi, Renault (via Toleman) and Sauber, as well as guys from Lotus to Osella, broke into F1 via other formulae. Who else can do likewise? Lola went bust trying, Reynard not far off.

The philosophy of motor racing... :

#14 Bonde

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 20:27

[RANT]

...I know this post is not very constructive, but what if motor racing's governing organizations actually did something to actively encuorage chassis diversity rather than sanction single make formula upon single make formula? Look at the word 'motor racing' - it's should be a contest of man AND machine, and 'man' should mean both driver and designer.

I can accept reasons for a certain, limited single-make niche, as it was in the past, because it was thought of at the time as a means of 'closing-up' things, pitting drivers against each other in equal machinery. However, we also know that the richest teams tend to win regardless, because 'equal' can never be kept equal where boys and men compete. So much for the original intent of single-make - it isn't giving us anything, in either in competition, aesthetics or economics, IMHO. But of course, whatever manufacturer lands a single-make deal surely loves the monopoly, but where's the competitive spirit, evolution and progress once the deal is landed?

I can certainly accept single-engine formulae [although more should be done to improve the sound] because bespoke racing engine development and tooling-up is hugely expensive - but there is potential for a lot of diversity in chassis design IF THE RULES WOULD LET US.

In fairness, it should be noted that current 'de facto' one make formulae are open to interlopers, and have seen the chassis hegemony change over time. For instance F3 used to largely be Formula Cooper, then Formula Brabham, then Formula Ralt, then Formula Reynard and now Formula Dallara.

Problem is, to keep speed in check, the rules of year n+1 are continually ammended to reflect the design of the most competitive car(s) of year n, with the result that the rule book is becoming more or less a detailed design manual, nay almost a blue print, for last year's winner, rather than a simple, fixed set of limitations to maneuver within - as a formula should be. IMO today's super detailed rules pretty much tell you what you have to do rather than set an envelope to work within. That, to me as both an engineer and as a spectator, is a big, big loss. Gone are the days when visiting a paddock (that's assuming they'll even let you in if you aren't a lightly dressed female popstar or part of a corporate jetset or something) was like walking into a toystore - "Hey, have you seen Wondercar's solution over there" - "Pretty neat, but naught compared to the Colinmobile over in that corner, and, and..." One could spend a weekend in the paddock then - today I get bored after 1/2 hour in a single-make paddock...Too much money involved is also too much to risk to loose, which, when combined with the inevitability of design convergence due to the feed-back loop described above, has even resulted in the V10 "petrol" engine configuration being mandatory in F1 - which to me is a sad joke...Even the Formula Ford Tech Regs is 28 pages long nowadays.

So - let's start afresh, with some simple geometric limitations (for instance wider chassis and no raised noses) that would render all current aerodynamics totally unsuitable and let's see who could come up with something, given a fresh start. It might give newcomers a chance if all the old data is rendered useless overnight...

[/RANT]

PS: And make F1 an energy expenditure formula with emission limitations (but DON'T tell them how to limit emissions, only what to limit) or something like that so we
would get engine and fuel diversity for the benefit of society as a whole...

#15 RS2000

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 22:53

IIRC one of the reasons this particular series was not a success was engine unreliability. Strange because I believe the engine was the "Millington Diamond" alloy "Pinto" block with the (originally Ford-commissioned) Holbay head that was later (and at that time?) made by Warrior and now Connaught. The alloy block version is now used successfully in "ultimate" rwd rally Escorts and the head on an original Pinto iron block is preferred by many over a BDG in Post-Historic rallying for its better torque. The origin of the head was proposed changes to AppendixJ Group2 that would have outlawed the full 2 litre BDG? - but it was never used "in period" as a works engine.

#16 BRG

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 09:52

RS2000 - you are right that the engine was the problem - it was a bit of a dog's breakfast by Holbay (of whom I have a fairly low opinion). I think it pre-dated Roy Millington's Diamond though. I know a little about Roy and his work - a friend uses a Diamond in his Darrian and it has been 100% reliable. I would be surprised if he had any hand in the F. Classic debacle?

#17 bill moffat

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 10:15

My first impression when I saw a Formula Classic was that if you became intimate with the Armco either forwards, sideways, backwards (in particular) or from an inverted perspective it was going to hurt in a very big way. I'm glad the car died a death rather than a driver.

How about those pretty ERA (modern-day) single seaters..dare I say I quite like them...

#18 T54

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 19:02

Most formulae turn into 1 make eventually. Look at Indy, most cars were Kurtis in the 50s, March in the 80s, Reynard/Lola in the 90s.


You forgot the '60's and '70's, two of the most interesting decades in Indy car racing... :wave:

#19 Vicuna

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 21:17

Originally posted by bill moffat
My first impression when I saw a Formula Classic was that if you became intimate with the Armco either forwards, sideways, backwards (in particular) or from an inverted perspective it was going to hurt in a very big way. I'm glad the car died a death rather than a driver.

How about those pretty ERA (modern-day) single seaters..dare I say I quite like them...


Me too - especially the ones painted in 'period colour schemes'.

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#20 petefenelon

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 21:36

Originally posted by bill moffat


How about those pretty ERA (modern-day) single seaters..dare I say I quite like them...


Hmmm. I must say that when I first saw one I thought they were meant to look like late-60s FFords rather than evoking the Lotus 25. Not bad looking cars, but rather "generic".

#21 markrobert

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Posted 24 April 2024 - 09:20

I understand that the prototype off the Wheatcroft Formula Classic ran in a demo with other cars from the Wheatcroft collection at the European Grand Prix at Donington Park in april 1993.

Is there anyone who has got a photograph of this car at that event?  



#22 Michael Ferner

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Posted 24 April 2024 - 09:39

[RANT]

...I know this post is not very constructive, but what if motor racing's governing organizations actually did something to actively encuorage chassis diversity rather than sanction single make formula upon single make formula? Look at the word 'motor racing' - it's should be a contest of man AND machine, and 'man' should mean both driver and designer.

I can accept reasons for a certain, limited single-make niche, as it was in the past, because it was thought of at the time as a means of 'closing-up' things, pitting drivers against each other in equal machinery. However, we also know that the richest teams tend to win regardless, because 'equal' can never be kept equal where boys and men compete. So much for the original intent of single-make - it isn't giving us anything, in either in competition, aesthetics or economics, IMHO. But of course, whatever manufacturer lands a single-make deal surely loves the monopoly, but where's the competitive spirit, evolution and progress once the deal is landed?

I can certainly accept single-engine formulae [although more should be done to improve the sound] because bespoke racing engine development and tooling-up is hugely expensive - but there is potential for a lot of diversity in chassis design IF THE RULES WOULD LET US.

In fairness, it should be noted that current 'de facto' one make formulae are open to interlopers, and have seen the chassis hegemony change over time. For instance F3 used to largely be Formula Cooper, then Formula Brabham, then Formula Ralt, then Formula Reynard and now Formula Dallara.

Problem is, to keep speed in check, the rules of year n+1 are continually ammended to reflect the design of the most competitive car(s) of year n, with the result that the rule book is becoming more or less a detailed design manual, nay almost a blue print, for last year's winner, rather than a simple, fixed set of limitations to maneuver within - as a formula should be. IMO today's super detailed rules pretty much tell you what you have to do rather than set an envelope to work within. That, to me as both an engineer and as a spectator, is a big, big loss. Gone are the days when visiting a paddock (that's assuming they'll even let you in if you aren't a lightly dressed female popstar or part of a corporate jetset or something) was like walking into a toystore - "Hey, have you seen Wondercar's solution over there" - "Pretty neat, but naught compared to the Colinmobile over in that corner, and, and..." One could spend a weekend in the paddock then - today I get bored after 1/2 hour in a single-make paddock...Too much money involved is also too much to risk to loose, which, when combined with the inevitability of design convergence due to the feed-back loop described above, has even resulted in the V10 "petrol" engine configuration being mandatory in F1 - which to me is a sad joke...Even the Formula Ford Tech Regs is 28 pages long nowadays.

So - let's start afresh, with some simple geometric limitations (for instance wider chassis and no raised noses) that would render all current aerodynamics totally unsuitable and let's see who could come up with something, given a fresh start. It might give newcomers a chance if all the old data is rendered useless overnight...

[/RANT]

PS: And make F1 an energy expenditure formula with emission limitations (but DON'T tell them how to limit emissions, only what to limit) or something like that so we
would get engine and fuel diversity for the benefit of society as a whole...

 

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Even if almost twenty years old, this post pretty much sums up the problems of current motor racing, and how they could've been avoided. As it is, motor racing will  deservedly disappear up its own arse in the foreseeable future, and know what, I couldn't care less. It had had its day, but that has become a distant memory.



#23 john aston

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Posted 25 April 2024 - 06:13

It's possible still to enjoy it you know. I am no fan of spec formulae , in fact I only have ever unreservedly enjoyed two spec series - BMW M1 Procars and TVR Tuscans . I can moan incessantly about track limit penalties , over legislated series and rubbish tracks in awful countries. But there is still much to savour - we had reports here of VSCC frolics at Silvetstone and over the least few weeks I:ve seen Ferraris and Lamborghinis , Mustangs and McLarens  in British GT , last week I watched enthralling races for Formula Vee and small saloons and this weekend  I'll be writing about TVRs , Elans and Cortinas , racing around Oulton Park , a circuit which has changed little since my first trip in 1968.  

 

It's not all doom and gloom, Far from it.   



#24 Mallory Dan

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Posted 25 April 2024 - 07:17

The weather is, John. 



#25 Gregor Marshall

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Posted 25 April 2024 - 18:50

It was a great idea, just poorly executed, which was strange for Tom. My late Dad did some of the development testing and feedback, but unfortunately it didn't change a lot and the engines were very unreliable.
I can't remember the details now, but I think to do a season was something like £30k (you leased the car), but the prize money for the winner was supposed to be £100k.
TVR Tuscans were still really popular, plus you had the ProSport 3000 series and the financial crash, so it started at the wrong time and the cars didn't look or sound great.



#26 Doug Nye

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Posted 26 April 2024 - 06:46

I must confess I was pretty much overcome by embarrassment at the entire farcical 'Formula'.  Wheatie - bless him - did exhibit from time to time a total taste bypass.  Also from time to time - in his defence - he could tend to listen to the wrong people, believing they were on his side, rather than their own.

 

As I recall, an embarrassment indeed.

 

DCN