Cheetah Racing Cars
Cheetah Racing Cars were a prolific Australian manufacturer of race cars. The cars were almost solely designed, engineered and constructed by Brian Shead in a small factory at the rear of his home in Mordialloc, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.
The first Cheetah was built for Shead's personal use in 1960. It was a 'Cooper Copy' built to race in Formula Junior. A second Cheetah was built in 1962 and third in 1963. A completely new design was commenced in 1970, after which a friend persuaded Shead to construct an additional car. By 1973 Shead gave up his usual job to design and build race cars full time. The final car was produced in 1989, being a Mk9 for use in Formula Holden. Cars were constructed for Formula Junior, Formula Libre, Hillclimbing, Australian Formula 3 (AF3), Australian Formula 2 (AF2), Australian Formula 1 (AF1 or Formula Atlantic or Formula Pacific) and Formula Holden. Cheetah Race Cars dominanted Formula Three during the 1970s and in Australian Formula 2 they were the dominant manufacturer during the late 1970s and most of the 1980s. In Formula Holden, the sole Cheetah built for the category in 1989 was still competitive in the mid-1990s against far newer carbon fibre cars built by Ralt and Reynard.
Brian Shead also built one car that was not an open wheeler, being a Cheetah Clubman built for the Sports 1300 racing category. It was raced by Peter Jones, winning 132 races, including seven New South Wales titles and three Victorian titles.
Cheetah race cars are common sights at Australian historic race meetings, hill climbs, sprints and in Australian Formula 2 and Formula-R. In both Australian Formula 2 and Formula-R, Cheetah Mk7 and Mk8s which were built in the late 1970s and early 1980s are still winning races and championships against far newer carbon fibre tubbed Dallara and Reynard Motorsport cars.
Although Cheetahs are no longer manufactured, Shead is still actively involved with Cheetah race cars, supplying parts and advice to Cheetah owners.
Name Class Comments Mk 1 Formula Junior Cooper Copy Mk 2 Formula Junior Major revision of Mk 1 Mk 4H Formula Libre
Mk 4A Australian Formula 3 Mk 4B Australian Formula 3 Mk 4 Australian Formula 3 First production chassis Mk 4E Australian Formula 2 Mk 5 Australian Formula 3 Clubman Sports 1300 Clubman Mk 6 Australian Formula 2
Australian Formula 3
First monocoque chassis. Mk 6E & Mk6GE Australian Formula 2 Mk 6 cars with ground effects revision Mk 7 Australian Formula 2 First ground effects car, inboard front springs Mk 8 Australian Formula 2
Full ground effects, clean sheet design Mk 9 Formula Holden Last Cheetah made, clean sheet design
Season Driver Car Championship 1970s Brain Shead Cheetah-Corolla Multiple Formula 3 State Titles 1970s Brain Shead Cheetah-Corolla Four Formula 3 Stillwell Series 1977 Ian Judd Cheetah-Oldsmobile Australian Hillclimb 1979 Brian Shead Cheetah Mk6-Toyota Celica Australian Formula 2 1979 Brian Shead Cheetah Mk6-Toyota Celica Formula 2SM (AF2 Series at Amaroo Park Raceway) 1980 Peter Macrow Cheetah Mk7-Holden Gemini Victorian Formula 2 1981 Bob Prendergast Cheetah Mk7-Volkswagen Golf Victorian Hillclimb Championship 1983 Peter Beehag Cheetah Mk7-Volkswagen Golf Victorian Formula 2 1984 Peter Glover Cheetah Mk7-Volkswagen Golf Australian Formula 2 1985 Peter Glover Cheetah Mk8-Volkswagen Golf Australian Formula 2 1985 ? Cheetah Mk7-Volkswagen Golf Victorian Formula 2 1985 Robert Rumble Cheetah mk6 Renault NSW Hillclimb Championship 1986 Jon Crooke Cheetah Mk8-Volkswagen Golf Australian Formula 2 1986 Derek Pingel Cheetah Mk8-Volkswagen Golf Queensland Racing Car Championships 1986 Robert Rumble Cheetah mk6 Renault NSW Hillclimb Championship 1987 Arthur Abrahams Cheetah Mk8-Volkswagen Golf Australian Formula 2 1988 Rohan Onslow Cheetah Mk8-Volkswagen Golf Australian Formula 2 1988 Rohan Onslow Cheetah Mk8-Volkswagen Golf Australian Drivers' Championship - CAMS Gold Star 1993 Graham Blee Cheetah Mk6GE Champion of Winton 1994 Craig Lowndes Cheetah Mk9-Holden Australian Silver Star 1997 Hugh Gartley Cheetah Mk4 Toyota Corolla Champion of Winton, Formula Libre 1998 Bruce Combe Cheetah Mk7 Toyota Celica Australian Hillclmb, Under 2 litre 2002 Brendon Cook Cheetah Mk7-Volkswagen Golf Australian Formula 2 Rookie of the Year 2004 Kevin Lewis Ransberg Cheetah Volkswagen Golf Australian Formula 2 2006 Kevin Lewis Ransberg Cheetah Volkswagen Golf Australian Formula 2 2006 Edward Gavin Cheetah Mk8 Volkswagen Golf Australian Formula 2 Rookie of the Year 2007 Edward Gavin Cheetah Mk8 Volkswagen Golf Australian Formula 2
Track Distance Class Driver Car Year Time Symmons Plains 2.4 km AF2 Jon Crooke Cheetah Mk8 - Judd Golf VW 9/3/1986 54.73s Baskerville 2.01 km AF2 Jon Crooke Cheetah Mk8 - Judd Golf VW 16/3/1986 50.24s Surfers Paradise 3.2 km AF2 Jon Crooke Cheetah Mk8 - Judd Golf VW 18/5/1986 1m07.3s Oran Park 2.62 km AF2 Jon Crooke Cheetah Mk8 - Judd Golf VW 8/6/1986 1m05.8s Lakeside 2.4 km AF2 Jon Crooke / Arthur Abrahams Cheetah Mk8 - Judd Golf VW 15/6/1986 50.6s Sandown 3.9 km AF2 Arthur Abrahams Cheetah Mk8 - Golf VW 14/9/1986 1m40.2s Amaroo Park 1.946 km AF2 Arthur Abrahams Cheetah Mk8 - Golf VW 21/6/1987 46.52s Winton Motor Raceway - Short Circuit 2.03 km AF2 Arthur Abrahams Ransberg Cheetah Mk8 - Golf VW -/12/1988 56.9600s Eastern Creek Raceway 3.93 km AF2 Arthur Abrahams Ransberg Cheetah - Golf VW 25/08/1991 1m29.3500s Wakefield Park 2.2 km AF2 Craig Smith Cheetah Mk8 - Golf VW 16/09/2001 59.0361s
- Australian Motor Racing Yearbook 1985/86 Number 15 (1986)
- Australian Motor Racing 1982 Number 1
- Australian Formula 2 Club Inc.
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