Monza in Italy, Silverstone in England and Nemunas ring in Kačerginė, Kaunas district, Lithuania – what do they all have in common? They are all race circuits on the Formula Junior Diamond Jubilee World Tour!
By Sarah Mitrike / Formula Junior
Formula Junior racing began in 1958, on 23rd April, at the Monza Race Circuit. It was the idea of an Italian Count called ‘Johnny’ Lurani, to create a starter formula for drivers to progress through to Formula One. The formula was for 1.0 and 1.1 litre production engines, and gearboxes, in mini Grand Prix chassis.
The Formula lasted just 6 seasons in total, but was hugely successful with races taking place all over the world, including countries like Australia, Cuba, South Africa and of course the USA and Europe. Formula One drivers such as Jim Clark, John Surtees, Jochen Rindt, and Graf Wolfgang Von Trips often began their careers in Formula Junior.
In 1975, Formula Junior was the first past formula to be revived as an historic series, and in 1993, the Formula Junior Historic Racing Association was created, with the author’s father, Duncan Rabagliati as the leader. Since then, both Historic Formula Junior, and Historic Motor Racing in general, have grown enormously in popularity, and there are Historic Race Events taking place almost every weekend of the year at circuits all over the world. Events such as the Monaco Historic GP, the Goodwood Revival Meeting, the AVD Oldtimer GP at the Nurburgring and the Silverstone Classic are some of the most well-known and popular such meetings in Europe, and Historic Formula Junior races were included in all of these events over the last few years.
To celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Formula Junior, a 3-year World Tour of racing for Formula Junior cars and drivers has been taking place, visiting many of the circuits which were raced on historically when Formula Junior was new. The Tour began in South Africa in 2016, and has visited Australia, New Zealand, America, and various European countries.
Having lived in Žagarė, Lithuania on and off since 2004, and permanently since 2011, it has been the author’s ambition, as event coordinator for the Formula Junior Historic Racing Association, to bring the drivers, cars, and racing to Lithuania as part of the Tour.
So, on 1st-3rd June 2018, together with Asociacija Retromobile and VšĮ Nemuno Žiedas, together with support from the The Lithuanian Automobile Sport Federation (LASF), the team will be organising the first-ever Retro Festival on the Nemunas ring, to celebrate not only the history of Formula Junior, but the heritage of Lithuanian motor sport in general, from cars to buses and bikes, and also the fashion, dancing and music from the same time period.
This photo above shows cars very similar in design to Formula Junior cars, starting a race at the Nemunas ring. The organizer team would love to discover some more history of single seater racing in Lithuania, including photos, old video footage, event memorabilia, original race programmes, newspaper articles from the 60’s era, and of course importantly, to hear from any people who were either racing, or building and designing the cars that raced in that time. Maybe you know of any of the cars that have survived, in the back of a neighbours shed, for example?!
Here are a few photos from our World Tour so far. The team look forward to meeting everyone in Kačerginė in 2018!