Andre Westbye heading to the first and only overall win for the Cheek C288

Not very many people know that a tiny company, Cheek Racing Cars, in the equally tiny village of Tistedal in Norway, has produced several racing cars of their own design…one of which, the C2 sports-prototype of 1988, actually won races, took pole positions and set lap records. Two more Cheek chassis should be out in 2007….

Although I first raced in Special Saloons back in 1976, my first love in motor racing was always sports-racing cars, and especially the endurance racers. As a student in the UK in 1970, I saw the public debut of the Chevron B16, and was hooked.

Fast forward to 1976, and having completed my Finals for the MB, I finally started to build my first racing car. A humble 850 Mini was built into a 999S racer, with alloy doors, g/f flip front and boot lid. I had to compete i Sweden and Denmark, as there were no racing circuits in Norway before 1990. All our racing was done on frozen lakes in the Winter, and on horse-trotting tracks in the summer.

To say I was wildly successful from the start would be, erm, incorrect. However, I did plug on with another Mini Cooper S, which received a tubular rear swinging arm conversion, and coil springs . I did a good number of races in Minis, but eventually wanted to do rear wheel drive so an Imp came next. I did three seasons in Imps, gradually modifying them as I learnt about building and preparing racing cars, doing welding, turning, milling and the basics of laminating composite materials (I had in fact done a “bucket seat” in glass-fibre as early as 1963, when I started building an 1172 Special which was never completed.) My final Imp was a Maguire Stlletto, a super little ultra-low space-frame job which I acquired from British colleague David Enderby. The car weighed 420 kg mit mater and oil, but no petrol….super little car that was. And I enjoyed some good results in it.

However, the urge to go on got the better of me after two seasons with the Maguire car. Having always been very keen on the Chevron marque, I found a B54 sports-racer in Scotland, and bought that. The car was upgraded with vented front discs, four pot callipers, an FT200 and proper F2 size wheels and tyres, and it was powered by an 1800 BDA. This was all done at Chevron’s then- Scottish premises….and the less time dwelt on the quality of that work, the better. I had Geoscan do a geometry analysis and modified the suspension myself, on their advice, and the car became very nice to drive. It was also very quick, certainly by the standards of the day (1984/85) in Nordic Special GTs. It had acquired a roll cage done by myself, and a modified set of Maguire Lotus Esprit body panels to qualify as a GT car. It was, however, very unreliable, and we found the standard of the Chevron of Scotland-built components to be pretty dire. The whole car was re-built, including the engine, here i Norway….but having re-built it, I wanted to do my own thing, trying to build a whole car from the ground up. My close friend and ally Terje Nilssen and I had visited most of the factories of the emerging C2 category of cars, and we reckoned we could build a car to an acceptable level ourselves…

The original plan was to run it in a UK series for C2 cars, but that all didn't happen...from Autosport Magazine

Needless to say, this was a major undertaking, and looking back I can hardly believe I found the time to do all that work. The direct inspiration was the new Ecosse C2 car, a tiny, lightweight car which really appealed to me. I was able to purchase a set of s/h Ecosse body panels from Ray Mallock’s company, and through my professional contacts with pharmaceutical and chemistry giant Ciba-Geigy I was given two sheets of 1/2″ aluminium honeycomb, plus the appropriate epoxy cement and instructions. I drew up a monocoque tub using fabricated steel tubular bulkheads for suspension attachment strong points, and by September 1987 the chassis was being completed, with Tiga Thundersports uprights and F2 wheels. I designed the suspension, using Carrol Smith’s books and the “string computer” to good effect. At that time, I still envisaged using a 2-litre BDG and the FT200…..but one day rallycrosser Thor Holm came to my workshop. He was doing the European Championship in a Ford RS 200, and felt that my pretty little racer would need proper horsepower rather than the 250-odd expected from the BDG. Pretty soon, one of his BDT engines were in my workshop….and the whole car needed a major re-design to accomodate a virtual doubling of the horsepower.

Much more power meant a bigger transmission (and FGB from ADA Engineering), and bigger driveshafts, bigger uprights (March F3000 this time), bigger brakes (F3000) and going to 15″ rims. The layout of the canted-over BDT also meant designing and building a new tubular rear sub-frame, and we needed to find room for the much bigger coolers including the turbo intercooler. The water cooler was moved to the front, after a new honeycomb nose box had been designed. The Ecosse body was used as a basis, but in the end our bodywork plug used only the roof outline and windscreen of the Ecosse, everything else being done by means of foam, plaster and plastic filler. Doing the bodywork buck took more than 6 months of spare time, and was a messy, smelly, dusty and dirty period of workshop life.

Eventually, the car was made ready for its shakedown, on November 1st 1989. After we had loaded my shiny, bright red new racer onto its trailer, it started to snow….and there would be no more running intil the Spring of 1990. The car proved very quick from the word go, but we faced the inevitable new car niggling faults, also I had little time and money compared to what would realistically be needed. Early in 1990 I had set up Cheek Racing Cars and FBK Motorsport Service, in order to prepare racing cars and import parts for motor racing from the UK and the USA. I had three employees, which I hoped would leave me free to work at my day job in my busy

Proper pushrod suspension, and a very stiff alu honeycomb tub.

medical practice, and spend my spare time designing and building racing cars. The Cheek C288 was run for a number of top drivers, such as Alf Eng, Andre Westby, Borre Skiaker and many others after I had stepped down from driving myself, and scored some wins including in the Interserie, poles and lap records.By the time the C2 car was running properly in late 1990, the FIA had revolutionized/back stabbed (pick one) sports car racing by insisting on F1 engine tecnology only, in an obvious ploy to get the major manufacturers to switch from sports car racing to F1, where their budgets could be spent, ahem, more wisely. So, with the stroke of an FIA pen, the C2 category was no more, and our plans to race our car in the WSCC were squashed. We ran in the Nordic series and in the Interserie, until the car tried to push down the concrete pit wall at Donington Park in a wet Interserie race in 1995…..the concrete wall won.

The SR2 was the evolution - meant for the C3 class, but the class died and the car was sold less bodywork for a special saloon project.

We then ran a Reynard F3000 converted to a BDT power unit in the UK-based BOSS series, until the money ran out. My plans to run a racing industry related company in Norway were premature, and we had to put the company on the back burner, keeping on working with racing cars but now more on a hobby basis. Another version of the C2 chassis was completed in 2001, this being a Spider, and it was sold to the Ekorness racing team in Norway, who are putting a Lamborghini body shell on it to go GT racing. We also completed a rolling chassis Special Saloon tubular chassis, using the proved C2 suspension geometry and dimensions, and two 2004 spec LMP light honeycomb monocoques are ready to be assembled into rolling chassis. But Cheek Racing Cars have gotten involved in Historic racing over the last few years, and this is where our effort is directed at the moment. We may even re-build the C2 car for Historic GrC racing….watch this space!