Open-wheel single-seater formula racing has always been popular, especially when it’s affordable and easy to build and maintain. One of the most famous examples is Formula Vee, which originated in Germany and gained a significant following. Frenchman Maurice Emile Pezous also designed the Citroën-based MEP racers that were popular in France. Surprisingly, there was never a Formula Mini class in Great Britain. But there was a close alternative.
The class was called Formula Mini Plus (FMP) and was inspired by Biota instigator John Houghton’s success in a Hot Car-sponsored midget competition, where he raced a home-built Mini-based car he called “The Black Lawnmower”.
Seeing the potential for a more like-minded racing class, Houghton built a prototype car powered by a 90 hp A-series engine in a Mini subframe up front, coupled with a simple chassis and four fiberglass body panels.
Although Houghton offered replicas to aspiring racers, negotiations with the RAC Competition Department broke down and the class was banned before it ever took to the track in 1971.
Around the same time, British Leyland had a similar idea and approached Barry Stimson, the designer of the Mini Bug, to create a Formula car powered by a rear-engined Mini. Unfortunately, the BL-sponsored Formula never made it to the track, and it remains a mystery as to what went wrong. It’s not even clear whether a prototype car was ever built.