Vale: Brian Shead It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Brian Shead. Brian Shead is best known as the designer and constructor of highly successful Cheetah Racing Cars which dominated Australian F2 and F3 racing in during the 1970’s and 1980’s. During that period, Cheetah cars went on to take six Australian F2 championships including one for Shead himself in 1979. He was a highly regarded and competent race driver. He competed in over 300 events. A quiet achiever, Shead built his first Cheetah for himself in 1960 which then led to construction of nearly 50 more Cheetahs for both himself and customers. Construction of the cars was done in a small factory at the rear of his house in Melbourne. Many of his early cars were powered by Toyota engines supplied through Motor Improvements, owned by long time friend Brian Sampson. Motor Improvements modified and tuned Corolla and Celica engines to a high standard. Sampson also raced Cheetahs to achieve many race wins. Between the two Brians, the Cheetahs were dominant in F3 and F2 racing. While Cheetahs were highly successful in the pre ground effects era, Shead would go on to produce a full ground effects Mk 8 Cheetah for which Rohan Onslow used to win the 1988 Australian F2 title as well as be awarded with the then CAMS Gold Star Champion Driver award. There were other drivers using Cheetahs at the time. Brian Sampson, Peter Macrow, Bob Prendergast, Peter Behag and Derek Pingel all tasted success in national or state race series. Formula Holden was introduced in 1989 with Shead being instrumental in establishing the category. He constructed a Mk 9 Cheetah Formula Holden which was raced by Peter Glover then Brian Sampson, and Craig Lowndes. It was to be the last car he constructed. Shead also designed and constructed a Cheetah Clubman which was raced by Peter Jones in the 1300cc category. This was another highly successful car taking victory in many national and State race series. Besides building cars and racing them, he was involved in the development of open wheel racing at the controlling body level. Then later, he took on senior CAMS officials roles which led to his appointment as chairman of the National Track Safety Committee at CAMS. In 1994, Shead was awarded CAMS Life Membership for his long-term distinguished service to Australian Motorsport. Like the names of Brabham, Tauranac, Cooper and Matich, Brian Shead leaves behind a wealth of Australian motorsport history. The Historic Racing Car Club (Qld) Inc extends condolences to Brian’s family and friends.
Image: Glenn Moulds/Primo Tipo
Image: Brendan Jones/Primo Tipo
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