1969 Chevron B15 Formula B
Chassis FB/69/8, Ex-Reine Wisell Sebring Winner
This Chevron B15 Formula B, chassis FB/69/8, was originally sent by the Chevron works to its U.S. distributor, Fred Opert Racing, in 1969 to showcase Chevron’s capabilities, and to expand Chevron’s presence in the U.S. market.
Opert brought chassis FB/69/8 to the final race of the 1969 SCCA Continental Championship season, held at Sebring International Raceway. Opert, who was then a distributor for both Chevron and Brabham, was stacking the deck in his favor by bringing in two star driver’s from across the Atlantic to try and win this important race. Opert knew that winning at Sebring in December, 1969 would generate sales for the upcoming 1970 season.
Opert showed up at Sebring with no less than three Brabham BT29’s. He hired 1968 British F3, 1968 British Formula Ford, 1969 French F3, and 1969 Greater London F3 champion, Tim Schenken, to lead the team with a new BT29.
The remaining team car, the Chevron B15, was also to get a championship-winning driver behind the wheel. Opert hired 1967 Swedish F3 champion, Reine Wisell, to drive the Chevron. In less than a year, Wisell would be racing for Lotus in Formula One, finishing on the podium at the U.S. Grand Prix with teammate Emerson Fittipaldi. However, at the end of 1969 Wisell would be driving the Chevron at Sebring.
Wisell and Schenken dominated the Sebring race. They lapped the entire 30 car pro series field. Wisell, however, was untouchable, even by Schenken. Wisell beat Schenken and his BT29 by nearly 30 seconds!
Sebring was a resounding success for the Opert Team, finishing 1, 2, 3, with Brian Robertson picking up the third spot. Chevron B15’s also claimed four of the top 10 spots, more than any other manufacturer.
Douglas Brenner, from Southern California, was also at Sebring. He watched Wisell and the Chevron pull away throughout the race to a convincing win. It was so convincing that Brenner decided on the spot that it was time to give up on the Lotus 41 Formula B he was racing on the West Coast, and buy this amazing Chevron. B15.
So Brenner sought out and found Fred Opert in the paddock after the race. Brenner purchased the Wisell car on the spot. That turned out to be a very good decision. He and FB/69/8 would go on to claim more wins, and track records, in 1970.
In 1970 Brenner became a member of the Opert Racing Team, racing FB/69/8. He won SCCA National races with the Chevron, and also competed in the SCCA Continental Championship pro series. At one point the team finished 1-2-3 with Brenner joining teammates Mike Eyerly and Alan Lader on the podium.
For more information on Doug Brenner’s time with the Chevron in 1971, and period photos of the car, check out Doug’s racing bio on the Brenner Shocks website at Brenner Shocks
After the 1970 season, Brenner sold the Chevron to fellow Southern Californian, Byron Hatton. Unfortunately, Hatton crashed the car in turn 2 at Riverside. The Hewland FT 200 gearbox, and back of the chassis were damaged.
Hatton repaired the back of the Chevron and replaced the gearbox with a Hewland Mk.9. He also replaced the twin cam 1600 cc engine and with an Formula C specification 1100 cc engine. He finished off the repair by installing a newer Chevron B17 engine cover. Hatten then ran some local Formula C races with the Chevron.
Hatton next sold the Chevron to Carl Thompson. Thompson was working for Vasek Polak at that time in Southern California. It is unknown at this point if Thomson raced the Chevron or not. However, we do know that Thompson had begun working on the Chevron because when he sold it to the next owner, the car was partially disassembled, and came with boxes and boxes of parts. Included in those parts were the original Formula B half shafts, larger drive donuts, an FT 200 case, original suspension and the rest of the original FB bits.
Dave Vegher bought the Chevron from Carl Thompson in the mid-1990’s. Vebher, a multiple time SCCA National Champion and racing prep shop owner, then began a frame up restoration that would take several years.
Interestingly, during Vegher’s restoration, he received a call from a a former Chevron factory mechanic. The mechanic was researching the histories of the different chassis, apparently for a book on Chevron cars.
The mechanic asked Dave the chassis number for the car. Dave said he did not recall the chassis number because at that time no one thought they might become important some day. So, Dave put down the phone, and went out to his garage to look at the Chevron.
Fortunately, the chassis number was right there on the original chassis tag which was still glued to the dashboard. Dave came back and told the caller the number was “8.” The mechanic said “Are you sure?” So Dave went back and looked again, sure enough the chassis tag said “8.” The caller then told Dave that he had actually worked on that car when it was new, and that it was the Sebring winner.
Vegher completed the frame up restoration of the Chevron in the early 2000s. He then began racing the car in historic races on the West Coast. Dave and FB/68/8 were a dominant force, consistently grabbing pole positions, winning, and setting track records.
When Vegher retired from racing, he sold the Chevron to its current owner. Vegher, builder of some of the most competitive racing engines in the U.S., built one more engine for the Chevron’s new owner. It is one of the most powerful, legal, 1600 FB engines we have ever seen. Dyno sheets documenting the engine’s performance are available upon request.
The current owner has driven the Chevron only a couple of times the past couple of years. So the car remains in its excellent, as-restored, condition.
The Chevron is powered by a Vegher 1600 cc Lotus twin cam engine producing over 200 horsepower on 45 DCOE Webers. The engine is mated to its proper Hewland FT 200 gearbox. The engine spins using a Tilton Super Starter.
The frame was fully restored and powder coated. All suspension has been rebuilt, crack tested, plated and polished. The shocks are Koni double adjustable and dynoed. The wheels are correct, original style, Chevron Formula B wheels. The belts and fire system are all up to date. Simply put, the car is in excellent, already race-proven, condition.
The Chevron is currently located in Petaluma, California, approximately one hour north of San Francisco. Inspections can be arranged, as well as meetings with those who have maintained the car and know it thoroughly.
The Chevron can be raced throughout the entire U.S. in Historic Formula B. It also qualifies for two categories in the Historic Sports Car Club (HSCC) Historic Formula 2 Championship in the U.K. See below.
Class A Jochen Rindt Trophy: Cars built with engines conforming to original Formula 2 specification with either fuel injection or carburettors manufactured and raced before 1st January1972 with a maximum capacity of 1600cc and with aerodynamic devices.
Class E Jim Clark Trophy: Cars built to conform to either Formula 2 or Formula Atlantic or Formula B regulations but without aerodynamic devices manufactured and raced after 1st January 1967.
The Chevron B15 was a winning car in period, beating the best Formula B’s that would ever be built for the class. It remains the proven front runner today in historic Formula B. It is probably the finest Formula B available anywhere.
Please contact us if you are interested in owning an historic Formula B with verified, important, provenance, and the capability of winning anytime anywhere. You will also be getting one of the last of the iconic formula car designs from the 1960s.