- Formula Junior
Formula Junior is a
formula racingclass first adopted in October 1958by the CSI ("International Sporting Commission", the part of the FIA that then regulated motorsports). The class was intended to provide an entry level class where you could use inexpensive mechanical components from ordinary automobiles. The idea to form the new class came from CountGiovanni "Johnny" Lurani who saw the need of a class for single-seater racing cars where younger drivers could take their first steps. It is often speculated that this class was founded as a reaction to Italy's lack of success in the 500cc Formula Three, and although Italian marques dominated the first year of the formula, they were soon overtaken by British constructors.
The rules for the class required the cars to be powered by production-based engines with a volume of 1000 cc with a 360 kg (792 lb) car or 1100 cc with a 400 kg (880 lb) car - in practice the latter was used in almost all successful FJs (the USA adopted other cc/weight ratios but they were rarely used). Parts like engine block, head and cylinders had to come from a production car; single or twin overhead
camshafts, limited slip differentials and modifications to the number of main bearings were all forbidden. The brakes and transmission also had to be production-based. Constructors were allowed to increase the number of gears, but only inside a production gearbox casing. Formula Junior was also the first racing class to require roll cages. In Italy the popular Fiat1100 engine was the obvious choice and in 1958there were few other suitable engines in Italy; elsewhere the 1000 cc Miniengine as well as the DKWand the Saabthree-cylinder two-stroke engines were obvious choices, as was the new oversquare Ford engine from the 105E Anglia. The first Italian FJ cars were very much in the front-engined tradition of contemporary Grand Prix cars; the first international Formula Junior championship in 1959was won by the Swiss driver and engineer Michael Mayin a Automobili Stanguellini. The British constructors were initially not particularly interested; the 500cc Formula Threewas still just about viable, and small-capacity sports car racing had become the accepted route into racing. As the formula gathered momentum, though, constructors started to take note.
In the UK
Frank Nicholsof Elva produced the Elva 100series powered by a BMC A-Series (Sprite or Mini) engine or a DKW two-stroke enginetuned by Gerhard Mitterin Germany. The Elva became first mass-produced British Formula Junior car. Other early British designs included the Gemini (earlier called Moorland) and Lola Mk 2.
Although these early British FJs were front-engined, the F1 car was undergoing a mid-engined revolution and there were also strands of thinking in FJ that stemmed from the 500cc
Formula Threewhere rear-engined cars had been the norm. It was not long before Cooper started to produce a car similar to their contemporary F1/F2 thinking, later F3s and "bobtail" sports car fitted with BMC A-series engines. On the engine side, Keith Duckworthof CosworthEngineering took an interest in Formula Junior and managed to get hold of two of the new engine to be used in the 1959 Ford Anglia. Lotus also came into the game with their Lotus 18, a simplified derivative of their Formula Oneand Formula Twochassis fitted with a 997cc Ford Anglia engine. Later Lotus also raced in Formula Junior with Lotus 20, Lotus 22and Lotus 27. These two marques (particularly Lotus-Ford), able to virtually mass-produce their cars and with close links to their Grand Prix teams, soon came to dominate Formula Junior on an international level, with other
Sweden Saabproduced the Saab Formula Junior, mainly to test new engine designs.
Russiathe most used engine came from the Moskvitch.
Through the formula's lifetime, though, the number of manufacturers increased. By the end of 1960 there were over 100 manufacturers worldwide, and by the end of 1963 the number had increased to almost 500 - but the vast majority of race wins went to the British constructors of mid-engined cars.
Brabham's first racing car was the mid-engined BT1 (originally called the MRD, but renamed when it was realised that the initials had unfortunate connotations in French) in 1961. By 1963the class had become expensive, the scope for wins in homebuilt or amateur cars was diminishing and the cost of tuning a 1000 cc engine to get up to 120 hp was getting too high. The 1963 series was the last series in the UK and Europe.
In the early 1960s, after Formula One was reduced to a 1.5l engine capacity and Formula Two disappeared, Formula Junior suffered from playing two roles, both an introduction to single-seater racing for novices, and the only international single seater category below F1. The latter role meant that costs were pushed up too high for many amateurs (competing against works or near-works Coopers and Lotuses meant that there was little chance of success in major races), and it was decided that two new formulae were needed to replace FJ; one-litre
Formula Twoand Formula Threewere reintroduced for 1964, with F2 allowing pure-bred race engines and aimed very much at professional and serious up-and-coming drivers, and F3 essentially being a slightly tamer version of FJ for amateurs and those at an earlier stage in their career.
Slightly later in the 60s, classes based on the same original idea as FJ evolved as low-cost introductions to single-seater motor racing, notably
Formula Fordand Formula Vee.
Because many cars and engines are still readily available, Formula Junior is now a popular category in historic racing.
Drivers with background in Formula Junior includes
Jim Clark, Peter Arundell, Trevor Taylor, John Surtees(whose association with the formula was very brief!), Denny Hulme, Ed Leslie, Pat Pigottand Jack McAfee. German Gerhard Mittersuccessfully raced (40 wins) and sold (130) two-stroke-engines for FJ.
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