Ted Prappas in his Ralt RT4 on his way to victory at Road America in 1987.  Copyright Mark Windecker 2014.  Used with permission.

WCAR Formula Atlantic 1987

West of the Rockies, Stefan Petroff Industries (SPI) sponsored, organised and competed in the SPI Formula Atlantic Championship. Ken Baca and Stuart Miller were charged with promoting the series and delivered $500,000 of prize money from SPI for the 1987 season. SPI also ran a pair of cars for Parker Johnstone and Jon Beekhuis. The title race was won convincingly by Johnny O'Connell, who had moved into Atlantic after a disappointing season Formula Super Vee, but only after a strong challenge from former ski racer Dean Hall. O'Connell reinforced his reputation with a dominant win over ECAR champion Calvin Fish at St Petersberg in November. Hall was straight out of Formula Ford and his strong challenge for the title marked him as a future star in the category.

After the end of the 1987 season, SPI pulled out, leaving Paul Cava and Tim Fortner to organised a West Coast Formula Atlantic series for 1988 through their Cava-Fortner Sports Management Inc . As before, the series was sanctioned by the SCCA.

RK Smith's win in the Swift DB4 at Portland in September 1987 was not only the first ever Pro win by an American car in this category of racing, but was the first by anything other than a Ralt or a March since 1978 and the first by a car not built in England since Brian Nelson had won at Sebring in October 1970 in a Crosslé built in Northern Ireland.

The races

03 May 1987 > Laguna Seca

17 May 1987 > Firebird International Raceway

31 May 1987 > Sears Point

13 Jun 1987 > Portland International Raceways

05 Jul 1987 > Spokane

02 Aug 1987 > Sears Point

09 Aug 1987 > Tacoma

23 Aug 1987 > Westwood

13 Sep 1987 > Portland International Raceways

10 Oct 1987 > Laguna Seca

01 Nov 1987 > SCCA/SPI International Formula Atlantic Championship at Memphis Motorsports Park

WCAR SPI Formula Atlantic Championship events shown in bold

1987 WCAR SPI Formula Atlantic Championship table

1Johnny O'ConnellRalt RT4/86 - Ford BDD Jennings141 pts4 wins
2Dean HallRalt RT4/86 - Ford BDD Hasselgren128 pts4 wins
3Parker JohnstoneRalt RT4/87 - Ford BDD Jennings110 pts 
4Jon BeekhuisRalt RT4/87 - Ford BDD Jennings101 pts 
5Ted PrappasRalt RT4/86 - Ford BDD Jennings96 pts 
6Jeff KrosnoffRalt RT4/85 - Ford BDD Jennings
Ralt RT4/86 - Ford BDD Jennings
54 pts 
7Chris BenderRalt RT4/83 - Ford BDD Jennings
Ralt RT4/86 - Ford BDD Jennings
52 pts 
8Sandy DellsRalt RT4/83 - Ford BDD Jennings52 pts 
9Dan MarvinRalt RT4/83 - Ford BDD Hasselgren50 pts 
10Jimmy SantosRalt RT4/83 - Ford BDD Hasselgren50 pts 

Points table from Sports Car Jan 1988 p52.

In 1987, three different categories were competing to be the main route to CART. Of these, Formula Atlantic remained the most junior, with Autosport's Dan Layton estimating that a budget needed to be successful in Formula Atlantic was about half that needed for Formula Super Vee or ARS.