Brabham BT18 (Formula 2) car-by-car histories
The Brabham BT18 was a multi-formula car built in 1966 and used in Formula 2, Formula 3 and Formule Libre. The histories here relate only to the Formula 2 BT18s.
Brabham records say that six F2 Brabham BT18s were built. Five of these would be the Honda-engined works cars F2-18-66 and F2-19-66 driven by Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme, the two Roy Winkelmann Racing cars F2-22-66 and F2-23-66 with Cosworth SCA engines raced by Jochen Rindt and Alan Rees, and the customer SCA-engined car F2-7-66 sold to Kurt Ahrens in Germany. The identity of the sixth car is unclear, but as we will see it appears likely to have been built for SCCA Formula C.
Three of the ex-F2 cars stayed in Europe: the ex-Ahrens car becoming a F3 car in Sweden, and both the ex-Jack Brabham car and the ex-Jochen Rindt car being fitted with 1600cc Ford twin cam engines for libre racing in Ireland. Of the other two, the ex-Denny Hulme car appears to have been given directly to Honda and has remained with them every since, and the ex-Alan Rees car appears to have been sold to the USA for SCCA Formula C racing using an 1100cc Cosworth SCC engine, a stretched version of the F2 unit.
New to Kurt Ahrens and raced in Formula 2 in 1966, using a Cosworth SCA engine. Sold to Ronnie Peterson for Formula 3 in 1967. To Gustaf Dieden for F3 in 1968. To Bertil Roos (Gotenborg, Sweden) for F3 in 1969. Chris Townsend advises that this car went to Stig Johansson for 1970. Subsequent history unknown.
Driven by: Kurt Ahrens, Ronnie Peterson, Gustaf Dieden and Bertil Roos. First race: Nürburgring, 24 Apr 1966. Total of 42 recorded races.
New for Jack Brabham to race in Formula 2 from April to July 1966, fitted with a Honda engine. Brabham won at Goodwood, Pau, Montjuich Park, Zolder and Reims in this car. Then raced by Alan Rees at Keimola in August, using a Cosworth SCA engine. Not seen again that season. Sold to Kevin Murphy (County Offaly, Ireland), fitted with a 1600cc Ford twin cam engine and raced by Murphy and Frank Keane in Irish libre events in 1967, 1968 and 1969. Sold to Patsy McGarrity (Belfast, Northern Ireland) for 1970, again for Irish libre. To Paddy Farrelly (Lucan, Dublin, Ireland) for libre in 1971 and for Formula Ireland in 1972. Subsequent history unknown.
Driven by: Jack Brabham, Alan Rees, Kevin Murphy, Frank Keane, Patsy McGarrity and Paddy Farrelly. First race: Goodwood, 11 Apr 1966. Total of 46 recorded races.
New for Denny Hulme to race in Formula 2 from April to July 1966, fitted with a Honda engine. Hulme won at Rouen and Le Mans-Bugatti in this car. Also raced by Chris Irwin at Albi and Brands Hatch at the end of the season. This is very likely to be the car now exhibited in the Honda Collection Hall.
Driven by: Denis Hulme and Chris Irwin. First race: Goodwood, 11 Apr 1966. Total of 19 recorded races.
New to Roy Winkelmann Racing for Jochen Rindt to race in European F2 in 1966, winning at the Nürburgring in April and at Brands Hatch in October. Sold to Reg Armstrong (Northern Ireland), fitted with a 1600cc Ford twin cam and raced in Northern Ireland in 1967. Later to Tommy Reid (Tandragee, County Armagh) for 1969 as a backup to his Brabham BT23 and used in events where the FVA-engined car was not eligible. To John Smith (Ballymena, County Antrim) and raced again in Irish libre racing in 1970. Smith acquired a BT30 for 1971 and the BT18 was sold to English dealer Bobby Howlings who sold it on, less engine, to RAF pilot John Walmsley. Walmsley fitted a 997cc ex-F3 Cosworth engine and ran it in sprints and hillclimbs, winning the novice award at Blackpool in June 1971. He fitted a Vegantune twin cam for 1972. The car was next seen with John Hart on the hills in 1975, when it still had the Vegantune twin cam, but he apparantly fitted a Cosworth FVA for the 1976 season. Then sold to Jimmy Johnstone for 1977, when it was back to its Vegantune powerplant. Traded to dealer David Winstanley (Winsford, Cheshire) for a Brabham BT30 and then unknown until raced between 1979 and 1981 in Monoposto by Barry Whitehurst (Wombourne, Staffordshire). Peter Speakman (Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria) acquired the car for the 1984 season, and hillclimbed it for many years. It was displayed by Speakman in a Rindt tribute at the Essen Motor Show in 1993. Some time around 2007, this car was bought from David Crowther by Joe Willenpart (Austria). By 2019, this had moved to a private collection. In September 2020, it was on display in the Musée des 24 Heures du Mans.
Driven by: Jochen Rindt, Hans Herrmann, Ludovico Scarfiotti, Reg Armstrong, Tommy Reid, Larry Mooney, John Smith, John Walmsley, John Hart, Jimmy Johnstone, Barry Whitehurst and Peter Speakman. First race: Goodwood, 11 Apr 1966. Total of 60 recorded races.
New to Roy Winkelmann Racing for Alan Rees to race in European F2 in 1966. Also driven by Jo Bonnier at Karlskoga and Keimola in August. Subsequent history unknown.
Driven by: Alan Rees and Jo Bonnier. First race: Goodwood, 11 Apr 1966. Total of 19 recorded races.
Unidentified F2 Brabham BT18s in 1966
Two Brabham BT18s appeared in Formula C specification in the US late in 1966, one for Dewey Harless in the Pacific Northwest and one for Fred Opert at the SCCA Runoffs. Of the five cars that had appeared in F2 during 1966, only the ex-Denny Hulme F2-19-66 and the ex-Roy Winkelmann/Alan Rees F2-23-66 do not have a clear continuous history in Europe over the next seasons, as Ahrens' F2-7-66 went to Sweden for F3, and both Jack Brabham's works F2-18-66 and Jochen Rindt's F2-22-66 went to Ireland for libre racing. It seems highly likely that the ex-Hulme F2-19-66 was given to Honda in Japan, so the ex-Roy Winkelmann/Alan Rees F2-23-66 is the car most likely to have gone to the US. The second of the cars that appeared in the US may have been built new for that category, and would explain why MRD records say that six F2 cars were built. The most likely scenario is that Harless had the ex-Rees car and Opert had commissioned a new car for an SCC engine.
Dewey Harless (Portland, OR) ran a Formula C Brabham with great success in SCCA and ICSCC racing in the Pacific northwest from late 1966 onwards, but it is only in mid-1968 that it was identified as a Brabham BT18 with Cosworth SCA engine. His first appearance with the car was at the November 1966 SCCA Run-Offs where The Wheel described it as a Brabham with Cosworth sohc engine, that had been purchased for the Run-Offs. The Cosworth sohc engine would be a Cosworth SCA, so it looks like this was the first appearance of his BT18. However, it is possible that he had an older SCA Brabham in late 1966 - for example a BT10 or BT16 - and progressed to the BT18 in 1967 or 1968. Harless bought Fred Opert's BT21B with SCC engine for 1969 and the subsequent history of the BT18 is unknown.
Driven by: Dewey Harless. First race: Phoenix International Raceway (R1), 11 Feb 1967. Total of 13 recorded races.
Fred Opert had a Brabham BT18 with Cosworth SCC engine at the ARRC (SCCA Runoffs) in November 1966. It seems likely that Opert had commissioned this car as a Formula C car, perhaps in the expectation he could sell it to one of the top FC runners for the Runoffs, but he ended up running it as a Formula A car. Opert had qualified for the Runoffs in Northeast Division FA using a Lotus 32, a F2 car so presumably fitted with an engine marginally over the 1100cc Formula C limit, tipping it into FA. He may have used the same trick with the Brabham BT18 at the Runoffs, but the car was disqualified, reportedly for being underweight. Given the rarity of Brabhams fitted with Cosworth SCC engines, it seems likely that this was the car that Bill Gubelmann drove in SCCA FC in 1967.
Driven by: Fred Opert. First race: Riverside, 27 Nov 1966. Only one recorded race.
F2 Brabham BT18s in 1967
The ex-Ahrens F2-7-66 was converted to F3 specification for Ronnie Peterson to race in Swedish F3; the ex-Brabham F2-18-66 went to Kevin Murphy for him and and Frank Keane to race in Irish libre, and the ex-Rindt F2-22-66 was sold to Reg Armstrong, also for Irish libre. Dewey Harless retained his late-1966 car, probably the ex-Rees car, for SCCA and ICSCC racing in 1967. The ex-Hulme F2-19-66 was very probably with Honda in Japan all year. The late-1966 Fred Opert SCC car is probably the BT18-SCC raced by Opert's customer Bill Gubelmann in FC in 1967.
At the Bridgehampton race in May 1967, there appeared to be far too many BT18s present. As Don Morin in F2-16-66, Alan Gottlieb in the ex-Stew McMillan BT18 (likely to be F2-48-66), John Hood in his mystery BT18, and Bill Gubelmann in the BT18-SCC all started the race, the only other BT18 available in the US at that time should have been Dewey Harless's car on the opposite side of the continent. Even Mike Hiss's FB BT10 was in the race. However, there were two more on the entry list. Fred Opert had entered a "1966 F2" Brabham for himself to drive in Formula B, implying a BT18 with twin cam engine. A photograph on REVS of Opert in the car shows that it was a BT21, so presumably Opert's brand new BT21A had arrived after his entry was lodged. Tom deLoughry was also entered in a FC Brabham which he later said on his SCCA licence application had been a BT18. However, a REVS photo shows it did not have the distinctive taller rear uprights of a BT18, so it was either a 1966 BT15 or more likely an older car such as a 1965 BT15 or BT16. THe photograph appears to show an Cosworth SCA engine. He ran as #22, which was the number Bob Fuller used on his BT16, but Fuller's car ran in FB, so this seems very unlikely.
Bill Gubelmann (Oyster Bay, NY) ran a red Brabham BT18 with 1.1-litre Cosworth SCC engine in Formula C in 1967, winning seven Nationals and setting lap records right down the east coast. He advertised the car in Autoweek on 18 November 1967 as a late 1966 BT18 chassis with 140bhp Cosworth SCC engine, and it then went to Fred Opert, presumably traded on Gubelmann's new BT23F. From Opert it was sold to Mike Eyerly (Salem, OR) and raced in the Pacific northwest, winning several Regional SCCA events. He kept the orange BT18 when he moved into the SCCA national Formula B series in 1969 and completely dominated the series, winning six of the first nine races and finishing second in another two. Advertised in October 1969. Subsequent history unknown.
Driven by: Bill Gubelmann and Mike Eyerly. First race: Palm Beach International Raceway (R1), 18 Mar 1967. Total of 29 recorded races.
F2 Brabham BT18s in 1968
The ex-Ahrens F2-7-66, now in F3 specification, was sold by Ronnie Peterson to Gustaf Dieden for 1968; the ex-Brabham F2-18-66 with 1600cc twin cam engine was retained by Kevin Murphy for him and Frank Keane to race in Irish libre in 1968; Reg Armstrong's ex-Rindt F2-22-66 also in Ireland with a 1600cc twin cam engine was not seen in 1968; Dewey Harless retained his SCA-engined car, probably the ex-Rees car, for another season of SCCA and ICSCC racing in 1968; the ex-Hulme F2-19-66 was very probably with Honda in Japan all year; and Bill Gubelmann's Formula C SCC-engined car was converted to Formula B specification and went to Mike Eyerly in the Pacific Northwest.
The puzzle in 1968 is Chuck Schroedel's Brabham BT18 with a Cosworth SCC engine for Formula C. This was the same specification as Gubelmann's car in 1967, but Gubelmann's had gone to Mike Eyerly. Maybe Fred Opert had fitted the ex-Gubelmann SCC engine to another (ex-F3 or even ex-FB) BT18, or maybe Schroedel had imported a BT18 and bought Opert's potent SCC to fit into it. Of the twin cam BT18s, there is a gap in the history of the ex-Alan Gottlieb BT18 that almost fits the known history of Schroedel's car.
Chuck Schroedel (New York, NY) raced at Brabham BT18 powered by a 1.1-litre Cosworth SCC engine in Formula C in 1968 and early 1969. He then acquired a BT21 from England and his team, Springdel Racing, then sold the BT18-SCC to Mike Rand who ran it in late 1969 before acquiring a BT21B. The BT18 went back to Springdel Racing but its later history is not yet known.
Driven by: Chuck Schroedel and Mike Rand. First race: Marlboro Motor Speedway (R1), 7 Apr 1968. Total of 21 recorded races.
F2 Brabham BT18s in 1969
The ex-Ahrens/Peterson F2-7-66 was sold by Gustaf Dieden to Bertil Roos for F3 in 1969; the ex-Brabham F2-18-66 was retained for a third season by Kevin Murphy for him and Frank Keane to race in Irish libre in 1969; Reg Armstrong's ex-Rindt F2-22-66 was sold to Mick Mooney's Irish Racing Cars for Tommy Reid to race in Irish libre in 1969; Dewey Harless's SCA-engined BT18 was traded back to Fred Opert and vanished; the ex-Hulme F2-19-66 was very probably still with Honda in Japan all year; and Mike Eyerly retained his ex-Gubelmann Formula B BT18 which proved highly effective in the SCCA Continental Championship.
Chuck Schroedel retained his mystery BT18-SCC for the early part of 1969, then sold it to Mike Rand.
F2 Brabham BT18s in 1970
Bertil Roos' ex-Ahrens/Peterson/Dieden F2-7-66 was not seen after 1969 and disappeared into the ocean of second-hand F3 Brabhams running in Europe; Kevin Murphy's ex-Brabham F2-18-66 was sold to Patsy McGarrity for Irish libre racing in 1970; Mick Mooney's ex-Rindt/Armstrong/Reid F2-22-66 was sold to John Smith for Irish libre in 1970; Dewey Harless's SCA-engined BT18 had vanished after the 1968 season; the ex-Hulme F2-19-66 was very probably still with Honda in Japan all year; and Mike Eyerly's ex-Gubelmann Formula B BT18 was not seen again after 1969. Mike Rand's ex-Schroedel BT18-SCC was also not seen again after 1969.
The three ex-F2 BT18 in SCCA racing can no longer be tracked after 1969. The ex-Dewey Harless (FC SCA), ex-Mike Eyerly (FB) and ex-Mike Rand (FC SCC) cars are all likely to have continued in SCCA racing at a lower level in 1970, but would be hard to pick out from the many similar cars racing in SCCA Regionals by that time. As well as these ex-F2 cars, there were also several twin cam BT18s built originally for FB that arrived in the US new, as well as an unknown number of BT18s imported to the US after an earlier career in F3. Drivers of unidentified BT18s in 1970 include Ron Southern (FC Regionals) in California and Dave Yoder (FC Nationals) in Florida.
F2 Brabham BT18s from 1971 onwards
Brabham BT18s continued to be used in SCCA Formula B and Formula C well into the 1970s, especially as beginner or SCCA drivers' school cars. Bob Schutt, Thomas Abbott and Jim Ellingson had FB BT18s in 1971, and Brownlee Cote raced one in 1972. In Formula C they remained even more numerous, with James Frey using one in Formula C with a Kawasacki motorcycle engine as late as 1977.
We must remember that there are still many Brabhams that raced in SCCA Formula B, Formula C and Formula B in the 1970s where not even the model has been identified. At the time of writing there are over 26,000 race appearances or entries in the OldRacingCars.com database for Brabhams, and in 759 of those cases all we know is "Brabham".
This Brabham BT18 is identified by its SCCA Logbook as a car that was registered for Formula B in February 1975. Its frame number is AM131. Its SCCA number is "04 061", which is Central Illinois Region and would be from the period 1972 to 1975. According to William Taylor, who owned the car in 2008, none of its early drivers are recorded, but it was given a new logbook in September 1980 after which it was raced as a C Sports Racer by Jerry R Bookham or Bookman in four races in 1982. This is likely to be Jerry Booker (Peoria, IL), who raced a Brabham in C Sports Racing at Brainerd in September 1982. Later owners were given as Dave Gransee in 1987 who sold it to John Arnold in Colorado in 1988. Arnold still had it in the late 1990s. Taylor (Denver, CO) bought it from Arnold and had restored it to Formula B specification by 2012, when he was racing it in historic events. It was offered for sale in 2014 when it was "believed to be chassis BT18-F2.18.66". Sold to Roger Hall (Brisbane, Australia) in 2015.
Some people have been working on this topic for decades and I must thank them first for their help over all those years. David McKinney was researching Brabham BT18s in New Zealand in the 1980s, as were Brian Miller and Denis Lupton in Australia and Brabham Registrar Ted Walker in England. Chris Townsend was a relative newcomer to the subject in the mid-2000s, but his highly organised approach helped impose some structure on the research. Thanks also to Steve Wilkinson for his work on hillclimb and sprint Brabhams, Dan Rear, Eli Solomon, Andrew Fellowes, Alan Brown, Philippe Demeyer, Simon Hadfield, Richard Page, Michael Oliver, Rupert Lloyd Thomas, John Fox, Tony Nicholson and John Turner for their help on the topic, and to former owners Doug Hart, John Walmsley, Joe Willenpart for information about F2-22-66.
These histories last updated on .