• The Fat One

    The Fat One (the car that is, not the driver, Dennis Marwood is still in great shape today!). When the Sports Car Club of American created their new SCCA Grand Prix Championship for 1967, they did so with it combining three different classes: Formula C for Formula 3 cars, Formula B for F2 cars, and Formula A for F1 cars. Following a lacklustre opening season for Formula A, in which only a handful of elderly F1 machines took part, the SCCA reformatted the FA rules, to include stock-block V8 motors up to 5,000cc for 1968.

    This proved an excellent decision, as there were already several companies in the US preparing stock-block 5 litre V8 race motors for the SCCA Trans-Am series, and the new FA class provided chassis makers another avenue for which to build cars. But many of the early FA cars were either converted USAC cars, or used USAC design principles, such as those built by Jerry Eisert.

    Eisert built a monocoque USAC car for Al Unser to race in 1965, which then became a spare for 1966, before being converted to a Formula A car in 1968. In FA guise, the Eisert was raced by Stew McMillen. McMillen was then invited to New Zealand for the grandly named Monaco International Trophy at Bay Park, on December 28, 1968, where he squared up against the FA cars of Ron Grable (Sceptre HR1), Pierre Phillips (Lola T140), and Rex Ramsay (LeGrand FA67) plus a full line-up of Kiwis and Aussies in smaller capacity. Its not fully known if the Eisert McMillen took to NZ is the Unser car, or another 1965 model.

    McMillen qualified 2nd to Grable, but crashed on lap 18. But there were enough people in NZ who liked what they saw, and Formula A, or Formula 5000 as it became known elsewhere in the world, was adopted as New Zealands premier single seater category for the 1969/70 season. With that, the Eisert stayed in NZ, leased by Ian Rorison, who had it rebuilt, and it was raced by Dennis Marwood in both the Gold Star and Tasman Series.

    Marwood won the opening Gold Star race at Pukekohe in September 1969, then finished second to Graeme Lawrence in the ex-Amon Ferrari 246T in Round 2. Among his other outings, he also took top 5 placings at the Bay Park and Levin international races, against some impressive competition.

    At the end of the season, the lease on the Eisert was not renewed. With Formula A/5000 having become something of a global phenomenon, chassis development improved at rapid pace and the Eisert quickly began to show its age. The Rorison/Marwood combination instead went saloon car racing, with the purchase of Joe Chamberlains 1969 Trans-Am Camaro.

    But the Eisert, which was affectionately dubbed the Fat One early in its life, is fondly remembered in NZ, and how could it not be. How could you not fall in love with such a charismatic race car!
    This article was originally published in forum thread: The Fat One started by Steve Holmes View original post