Updated: Jan 20, 2021
Formula Vee is a popular global development race category and over the decades Formula Vee has produced many famous racers and champions, including almost every single F1 World Champion between 1970 – 1987 and a number of current international drivers from F1 to IndyCar and Formula E.
In this Article we focus on the current crop of international racing drivers that did time in Formula Vee before rising to prominence on the world stage.
Current F1 driver and Red Bull Racing recruit, Sergio Perez, started out on his pathway to success racing Go Karts and Formula Vee’s in his home country of Mexico. Born on Australia Day 1990, Perez, or Checo as he is commonly known, started karting at the age of 6 before moving into his first race car, a Formula Vee. Perez raced Formula Vee's between 2003 & 2005 where he competed in his blue and white 1200cc #11 sponsored by Mexican telco, Telmex.
After racing Formula Vee for two seasons, Checo set off on his international quest to make it into F1, however his first stop was European Formula BMW before moving onto other classes. Perez would finally make if into F1 in 2011 when he secured a drive with Sauber.
Throughout his time driving with Sauber, McLaren, Force India and Racing Point Perez achieved several podiums however it was not until 2020 that Sergio Perez won his first Grand Prix in Bahrain. Perez will join Red Bull Racing for the 2021 season replacing Alex Albon.,
While he claims to be a Kiwi, six-time IndyCar Champ, Scott Dixon, was actually born in Brisbane, Australia. Dixon moved to New Zealand with his Kiwi parents at a young age and started racing karts after encouragement from his father who was a dirt track racer. After racing Karts for six years Dixon moved into his first race car category – Formula Vee – at the ripe age of 13. Dixon was so young that he had to obtain an exemption to race cars because the age for a race license in New Zealand is 15.
It was 1993, and the fair skinned Dixon didn’t fail to impress, winning the 93-94 New Zealand Formula Vee Championship after ten rounds. Dixon didn’t stick around, he quickly moved into Formula Ford where he won 13 of 14 races to take out the Formula Ford class two division, followed by the New Zealand Formula Ford Championship in 1996-97.
Today, Scott Dixon continues to race and win for the highly successful Chip Ganassi Racing Team and he shows no signs of stopping having recently taken out his latest IndyCar Championship in 2020. He will be racing for his seventh title in 2021 where he hopes to match championship record holders AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti. Not bad for a Formula Vee driver!
At the age of 26, Nick Cassidy has already made his mark on the international race scene, particularly in Japan where he has taken out championships in Formula 3, Super GT and Super Formula. Born in New Zealand, Cassidy graduated from karts in 2008 when he started racing Formula First (Vee) in the Manfield Winter Series where he finished first after 12 races, of which nine were podium finishes.
Cassidy continued in the 2008-09 season with Sabre Motorsport finishing second in the New Zealand Formula First Championship. This would be his last full season in the category. Cassidy returned to Formula First in the 2009-10 but only completed three races before transitioning to other categories and crossing the Tasman to race in the Australian Formula Ford series.
These days Nick Cassidy has signed with Envision Virgin Racing as part of the FIA Formula E series. Cassidy first drove the 275km/h Formula E in March 2020 in Marrakesh where he set the fastest time of all 23 drivers and set a new track record. With a podium percentage of 48.9% and backing from an established team in an emerging category, there is no doubt Nick Cassidy is someone we will see more of in the future.
Undoubtedly one of the youngest risings stars is Liam Lawson of FIA Formula 3 fame. Lawson, one of the next generation of Australian and New Zealand young guns, is preparing to take on the world stage of international motorsport.
After starting in karts at the age of seven, Lawson found himself behind the wheel of a Formula First (Vee) in 2015. His first foray into circuit racing was with Sabre Motorsport in the Formula First Manfield Winter Series where he finished on the podium eight times across 12 races to finish second overall. Lawson continued with Sabre Motorsport in the 2015-16 New Zealand Formula First Championship where he finished sixth overall after 24 races.
In 2017 Lawson crossed the Tasman to compete in the Victorian Formula Vee Championship in a Sabre 02 1600cc car but only completed three races that included one podium. Since this time Lawson has competed in Formula 4 and Formula 3 where he finished fifth overall in the 2020 FIA Formula 3 Championship behind Australian Oscar Piastri who won the championship.