Ted Prappas winiing at Westwood in July 1986 in his Team Tui Ralt RT4/86.  Copyright Brent Martin 2016.  Used with permission.

WCAR Formula Atlantic 1986

Ted Prappas had been racing for several years in Formula Super Vee, latterly with RPM Motorsport, and was usually amongst the quicker runners but without ever making it to the top step of the podium. For 1986, he moved into Formula Atlantic where he was equipped with a pair of new Ralt RT4/86s, prepared by veteran Allan McCall's Team Tui. He was immediately right on the pace, taking pole position four times in the first five races and winning at Laguna Seca, Westwood and Portland. However, such was the unforgiving nature of the points system that when Prappas skipped the Laguna Seca race to take in the Canadian GP support race, veteran Dan Marvin and Mexican Roberto Quintanilla, were able to move ahead. Prappas retook the points lead when he, Quintanilla and Marvin finished 1-2-3 at Portland leaving the title race delicately poised going into the Sears Point finale - Prappas now had 97 points, ahead of Marvin on 93 and Quintanilla on 88. Marvin took pole at Sears Point but dropped out after 24 laps leaving Prappas only needing to finish second behind the Mexican to win the title. Which he duly did.

One other driver who deserves a mention in that 1986 WCAR season was Tommy Phillips, son of legendary local racing car dealer Pierre Phillips, who took four pole positions and two wins in a purple patch that lasted from June to August. He translated that into a CART drive at Laguna Seca that October, but unfortunately it led nowhere.

The races

23 Mar 1986 > Firebird International Raceway

04 May 1986 > Laguna Seca

18 May 1986 > Riverside

01 Jun 1986 > Sears Point

15 Jun 1986 > Laguna Seca

20 Jul 1986 > Westwood

10 Aug 1986 > Tacoma

24 Aug 1986 > Portland International Raceways

27 Sep 1986 > Sears Point

1986 WCAR Formula Atlantic Championship table

1Ted PrappasRalt RT4/86 - Ford BDD113 pts3 wins
2Roberto QuintanillaRalt RT4/85 - Ford BDD108 pts2 wins
3Dan MarvinRalt RT4/82 - Ford BDD94 pts1 win
4Mike BuckenhamRalt RT4/83 - Ford BDD85 pts 
5Tom PhillipsRalt RT4/82 - Ford BDD83 pts2 wins
6Rod BennettRalt RT4/82 - Ford BDD77 pts1 win
7Sandy DellsRalt RT4/82 - Ford BDD67 pts 
8Glen SmithRalt RT4/82 - Ford BDD
Ralt RT4/83 - Ford BDD Hasselgren
55 pts 
9Charles NearburgRalt RT4/83 - Ford BDD48 pts 
10Chris BenderRalt RT4/83 - Ford BDD44 pts 

Of 208 race starts in the west, 182 were in Ralts, ten in Argos, six in Marchs, four in Tigas, three in the Johnston, two in Brabhams and one in a Magnum. Only 21 starts were in cars buit in 1986, and a further 15 from 1985. Excluding early cars clothed in newer bodywork, there were only 11 or 12 genuinely new Ralts in the country. In comparison, the bulk of the Ralts were left over from the end of the CASC series, there being 59 starts in 1983 cars and 47 in 1982 cars, more than 50% of the grid. Excluding Ralts, the youngest cars in use were two 1981/82 Argos, a 1982 Tiga and the 1981 Magnum.