One of the best things about Formula 1200 (A.K.A. Formula Vee) is that there’s such a rich history. The formula has existed since the 1960s, continues in many countries today, and boasts several F1 drivers as alumni of the category. There has also been a tremendous number of articles written on Formula 1200 over the years, and many can still be found on the internet .

The following article by Alan Franklin was published on the website PETROLICIOUS more than 8 years ago. Some of the costs may have gone up due to inflation, but the story remains accurate today.

Formula Vee Gives F1 Thrills on a Peanut-Butter Budget

Your car is the work of evolution, and the ultimate four-wheeled form of this universal force is undoubtedly the open-wheeled, single-seat racecar.

Single-seaters are amazing things, their slender bodywork just barely large enough to contain a driver, fuel, and drivetrain, bursting with elegant, delicately-formed and precisely tuned suspension components left exposed to the slipstream and locating open wheels at four extreme corners. It’s a design whose low center of gravity and highly concentrated mass allow for the lightest weight, most compact dimensions, greatest agility, and highest cornering forces possible—a Formula 1, Formula 2, Formula 3, Formula 4, Formula Ford, and the focus this article, Formula Vee.

Formula Vee was conceived in the late 1950’s as a low-cost alternative to other open-wheel formulas, in particular Formula Ford, itself originally conceived as less expensive way into single-seat competition. Using existing pre-1963 Volkswagen Beetle drivetrains and front suspension components mounted to a custom tube frame with composite bodywork, Formula Vee cars are designed to be built, maintained, and raced by a single owner on a relatively modest budget—even brakes and wheels are based on stock items.

Stateside, races are primarily sanctioned by the SCCA, while several others maintain a healthy international following, with championships held across South America, Africa, and Europe as well. Like other entry-level forms of Formula racing, Vee is seen as a venue for young drivers to work their way up the open-wheel ladder, with former F1 champs Keke Rosberg, Emerson Fittipaldi, and Niki Lauda all cutting their teeth in the little monoposto bugs.

A race-ready car should cost about $15,000 to build, with a kit not including needed VW parts coming in at about $8,000. Maintenance and consumables are estimated to run about $700 per race—not pocket change, but definitely cheap considering the level of competition, not to mention bucket-loads of fun, on offer.

If you’ve ever dreamt of getting into open-wheel competition, there’s no better place to start.

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