In 1978, Formula Super Vee competitors had two series to choose from – the United States Auto Club (USAC) Mini-Indy Series, established in 1977 and the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Robert Bosch/VW Gold Cup, which originated in 1971. The USAC Mini-Indy was a support series for USAC’s Championship Car division. As a result, a majority of the races were contested on ovals and served as a ‘stepping stone’ for Indy Car racing. In fact, last year’s Mini-Indy champion, Tom Bagley, was competing in this season’s Champ Car series. The Robert Bosch/VW Gold Cup events were conducted on road courses and prepared competitors for the Can Am series.

The first generation of Formula Super Vees was powered by the 1.6-liter air-cooled engines (Type 3 and Type 4) used in many of Volkswagen’s road-going vehicles. In 1978, a significant rule change allowed teams to use the water-cooled Volkswagen engine. The production-based four-cylinder 1.6-liter overhead camshaft motor produces over 150-horsepower.

The 1978 USAC Mini-Indy Series kicks off in March at Phoenix International Raceway and is followed by the first of two stops at Trenton International Speedway. Next, the championship travel’s north of the border to compete at Mosport – this is the only road course on the schedule. In mid-June, teams make their first of two visits to The Milwaukee Mile. Round five is held at Texas World Speedway and then the series returns to Milwaukee. On the Labour Day weekend, drivers compete in a doubleheader at Ontario Motor Speedway. The penultimate race occurs at Trenton International Speedway, with the finale in late October, where the year started, Phoenix International Raceway.

Round three of the 1978 USAC Mini-Indy Series was held at Mosport Park. There was also a Robert Bosch/VW Gold Cup event being conducted at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the same weekend. The Mosport race managed to attract eighteen competitors with the same number entered at Mid-Ohio.

Bill Alsup piloted a Lola to a twelfth-place finish during last year’s visit to Mosport. This season Alsup drove the No. 41 Argo JM-2. He opened his 1978 Mini-Indy campaign with a twenty-first-place result at Phoenix, followed by a runner-up finish at Trenton. Alsup was dominant in round three; he qualified on the pole and led flag-to-flag for his third win of the year. He already had two victories in the SCCA series.
The No. 10 March 78SV was driven by west coast racer Dennis Firestone. Firestone captured a fifth-place finish in the season opener at Phoenix International Raceway. However, he retired at Trenton, finishing twenty-fourth in a field of twenty-eight starters. During the race at Mosport, an incident in corner three resulted in contact between Firestone and John Wood. Firestone was able to continue and finished third.
Geoff Brabham, the son of the three-time World Driving Champion Jack Brabham, was splitting his time between Europe and America. Brabham was driving in the British Formula One Championship and made his Mini-Indy Series debut at Mosport. He was one of three entries driving the Ralt RT1. The Ralts used an airbox which was declared illegal by USAC Officials and removed before the race. Brabham finished twelfth at Mosport.
Herm Johnson was a veteran of the Formula Super Vee category. In 1976, Johnson won the prestigious Sports Car Club of America’s title at Road Atlanta driving a Lola T-324. He started this season with a sixteenth-place result at Phoenix and a fifth at Trenton International Raceway. Johnson qualified on the outside of the front row at Mosport, but the No. 2 Lola T-620 retired on lap-5 with a broken brake caliper.
John Wood didn’t participate in the opening round of the series but made his presence felt in race two. The rookie was victorious in the No. 43 Bill Scott Racing Ralt RT1. At Mosport, series officials asked Wood’s team to remove the airbox on his car. He and fellow competitor Harry MacDonald threatened to withdraw and head to Mid-Ohio; however, the pair relented. Unfortunately, Wood’s race ended on lap-2 with an accident.
Gary Passon’s weekend ended on the back of a hook. Passon purchased last season’s championship-winning Zink Z-14 from Tom Bagley. He crashed the car in practice and the team was not able to perform repairs at the Mosport, leaving him unable to participate in the race. At his first start of the year at Trenton International Raceway, Passon finished in the thirteenth position.
One of the more interesting Formula Super Vees entered at Mosport was the No. 74 Wheeler driven by Interscope team principal Ted Field. The Wheeler is the vision of Gary Wheeler. His resume included a stint as lead designer at Dan Gurney’s All American Racers. Wheeler left Gurney’s company to build the new Super Vee. Twelve pre-sold cars were constructed by FABCAR. Field practiced but did not start the race at Mosport.

1Bill AlsupArgo JM-226-
2Stuart MooreLola T-62026-
3Dennis FirestoneMarch 78SV26-
4Harry MacDonaldRalt RT126-
5Syd DemovskyLola T-62026-
6Peter HalsmerLola T-62025-
7Tommy ThompsonLola T-62025-
8Heinz SnizekLola T-32424-
9Richard TallonLola T-32424-
10Bob CicconiLola T-32423-
11Joe Gimpel, Jr.Hawke23-
12Geoff BrabhamRalt RT123-
13John FergusonRaceResearch W316-
14Herm JohnsonLola T-6205Brakes
15John WoodRalt RT12Accident
16Tim RichmondLola T-6202Accident
17Gary BettenhausenLola T-6200Engine
18Gary PassonZink Z-140Did Not Start

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