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Didier Theys in the Martini MK50 at Mid-Ohio in August 1986.  Copyright Mark Windecker 2014.  Used with permission.

US Formula Super Vee 1986

After years of domination of FSV, the interruption to Ralt hegemony came at Indianapolis Raceway Park in May 1986 with the arrival of Didier Theys' new Martini MK50. Theys had been on the pace with the MK47 in 1985 but the new car was even better and he won first time out. To add to Ralt's alarm, Johnny O'Connell's Anson SA6 was second and only one Ralt even finished on the same lap. And all four cars were equipped with Bertils engine, not the usual John Judd Brabham units. Theys rubbed it in with pole positions at each of the next three races and never qualified lower than third for the rest of the season.

But as Ken Johnson had shown in 1985, there was more to winning a SCCA championship than simply winning races. The SCCA's preferred points system was now the 20-16-14-12 system with points down to 15th position which hugely penalised a retirement. Despite Theys apparent dominance, Mike Groff led the championship table by eight points going into the last race and all he had to do was finish second to Theys to clinch the title. Theys duly won but Groff was beaten down into fourth by none other than Johnson himself, the 1985 champion returning to the series for the last three races in the same RT5/84 that he and Arie Luyendyk had won the previous two championships. So Theys was a very deserving champion and Groff suffered the double disappointment of losing both the FSV title and the ARS title.

The races

12 Apr 1986 > Long Beach

24 May 1986 > Indianapolis Raceway Park

07 Jun 1986 > Milwaukee (Wisconsin State Fair Park)

22 Jun 1986 > Detroit

28 Jun 1986 > Meadowlands Sports Complex

06 Jul 1986 > Cleveland

27 Jul 1986 > Road America

31 Aug 1986 > Mid-Ohio

21 Sep 1986 > Road America

12 Oct 1986 > Laguna Seca

19 Oct 1986 > Phoenix International Raceway

09 Nov 1986 > Tamiami Park

16 Nov 1986 > St Petersburg

1986 Robert Bosch/VW Super Vee Championship table

1Didier TheysMartini MK47 - VW Bertils
Martini MK50 - VW Bertils
155 pts5 wins
2Mike GroffRalt RT5/85 - VW Bertils153 pts2 wins
3Steve BrenRalt RT5/85 - VW Brabham
Ralt RT5/86 - VW Brabham
Ralt RT5/87 - VW Brabham
132 pts3 wins
4Scott AtchisonRalt RT5/85 - VW Brabham RPM
Ralt RT5/85 - VW RPM
122 pts1 win
5Cary BrenRalt RT5/85/86 - VW Brabham93 pts 
6David KudraveRalt RT5/85 - VW Bertils87 pts 
7Gary RubioRalt RT5/86 - VW Bertils86 pts 
8Thomas KnappRalt RT5/85 - VW Brabham80 pts2 wins
9Dennis VitoloRalt RT5/83 - VW Brabham
Ralt RT5/86 - VW Brabham
77 pts 
10Johnny O'ConnellAnson SA6 - VW Bertils68 pts 

This points table is from On Track 22 Dec 1986 p69. See also Gordon Kirby's review of ARS and FSV in Autosport 1 Jan 1987 pp30-31.

Despite Theys' performances with the F3-derived Martini MK47 and the new purpose-built Martini MK50, winning five races, qualifying on pole six times and leading 36% of the races laps, only a handful of other Martinis appeared. Ralt's 1986-spec RT5 featured revised front and rear suspension but most runners preferred to use their 1985-spec cars. The Anson SA6 was sophisticated but not especially quick and Jim Griffith's GR-06 only had a handful of outings. Some variety of engine was also seen, with Bertil Sollenskog's engines powering Theys and Mike Groff, and Bob Morris's RPM motors in the back of Scott Atchison's car. For once, neither Ralt nor John Judd's Brabham-branded engines won the FSV title.

Fields remained very large, the average number of starters increasing from just under 27 to more than 28. Of those starters, 83% were in Ralts, 8% in Ansons and 5% in Martinis with the remaining 4% spread between an Argo JM12, Griffith, a six-year-old March, Ed Jones' Shannon AJ82V and a Venture GR06. A growing pressure on FSV and categories like it was that the number of companies capable of producing a competitive racing car was shrinking away and several of these were increasingly dependant on their domination of one or two categories. A successful new player could quickly put one of the existing giants out of business.