Formula Ford Owners Group

Formula Ford is a single seater, open wheel class in motorsport which exists as an entry-level series to motor racing,

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Formula Ford

Formula Ford is a single seater, open wheel class in motorsport which exists in some form in many countries around the world. It is an entry-level series to motor racing, in which in the past many drivers aspired to one day reach Formula One (today karting is more likely to be a young driver's entry to serious formula car racing).

When the formula was first established, it ran on road tyres, used road gearboxes, and a price cap was placed on rolling chassis - the intention was very much to create an affordable form of single-seater racing. John Webb of Brands Hatch, Geoff Clarke of Motor Racing Stables (the circuit's resident race driving school) and Jim Russell were largely responsible for its creation. The first Formula Ford car was Team Lotus' 1966 Type 31 which was derived from the Lotus 22 Formula Junior. Unlike its great rival as an entry level formula, Formula Vee, the Formula Ford cars use full racing suspension setups.

The Formula
Formula Ford racing exists in two main forms: National Series run around the world using the 1600 Duratec engine, (which replaced the heavier but not significantly more powerful Zetec engine in 2006); and a mainly amateur, club-racing series attracting serious enthusiasts using the now elderly 1600 Kent Engine with which the formula ran from mid-sixties to mid-nineties. The car can provide drivers with their first insights into how a racing car feels to drive and how to properly set up a car, or it can provide a relatively inexpensive way for drivers to campaign purpose-built racecars for many years. Many Formula Ford 1600 series exist for drivers of the older Kent powered cars.

A Formula Ford car is one of the more distinctive-looking open-wheel race cars because it does not have wings to create aerodynamic downforce, one of the reasons the series has persisted for so long in motor racing. Top speeds in the National Class are as high as in the other Junior Formulae of BMW and Renault, but the cornering speeds are lower due to the downforce-producing aerodynamic aids on the other cars. Handling is entirely down to mechanical grip, and the lack of wings ensures that cars following another are not aerodynamically disadvantaged, allowing close racing with plenty of overtaking. Series' rules may permit slick tires or treaded tires. As the rules limit modifications, all cars are relatively equal and close racing results. Still, Formula Fords allow suspension and braking bias changes, if not aerodynamic options like winged cars.

Formula Ford cars weigh 410/420 kg (1000 lb), so their engines, which typically develop about 140/115 hp, are capable of propelling them from 0–100 km/h in less than five seconds, reaching top speeds of nearly 235/220 km/h (150/140 mph). The engine is usually a stressed member of the chassis, as in larger and more advanced Formula cars.

Several famous race drivers have used the formula as a step up to international competitions. For example, David Coulthard and Jenson Button were both British Formula Ford champions; Danica Patrick, the American Indy Racing League (IRL) racer, finished second in the British Formula Ford Festival early in her career. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Emerson Fittipaldi and Jody Scheckter were both competing in Grands Prix within a year or so of starting Formula Ford in Britain.

Many championships are run around the world for Formula Ford including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Asia, and South Africa. Each run instrinsically the same rules and regulations with minor variations for local conditions.

Ford Championships around the world
Asian Formula Ford Championships
Australian Formula Ford Championship
British Formula Ford Championship
Dutch and Benelux Formula Ford Championships
Finnish Formula Ford Championship
New South Wales Formula Ford Championship
North European Formula Ford Championship
South African Formula Ford Championship
Irish Formula ford
MTA New Zealand Formula Ford Championship
Pacific Formula Ford 2000 Championship

The Chassis
In order to reduce cost, chassis are steel space-frame, unlike the monocoques found in other types of single seater racing. The more popular marques are currently Van Diemen, Mygale and the Australian built Spectrum, but smaller manufacturers such as Ray or Vector have had some success. In recent years, in the United States, Pipers have also been campaigned with strong results. Historical designers who have made a mark on the series have included: Titan, Lotus, Merlyn, Citation, Swift, Euroswift, Elden, Reynard, Crosslé, Lola, Zink Bowin, Royale, and Cooper Racing.

The Engine
Formula Ford racing cars can be fitted with different engines. After some very early races with the 1500 cc Ford Cortina GT engine, the formula rapidly adopted the OHV 1600 cc Ford Kent engine, using production blocks with little special preparation. In 1994, Ford replaced its Kent block engine with the more modern and more powerful 1800 cc 16-valve Zetec. The advent of the Zetec created a new class of Formula Ford cars popular in some countries, although the increased weight of the engine was felt to adversely affect the handling of the cars. The formula originally mandated production gearboxes, wheels and tyres (and a maximum cost for the rolling chassis, although this was long since abandoned), but Formula Fords now use racing gearboxes and, in some championships, slick tyres.

For the 2006 season, the Zetec engine is being superseded by the 1600 cc, DOHC 16v Duratec engine. The Zetec was criticized by engineers and designers as less than ideal because of its bulk and weight. The move to Duratecs has brought Formula Ford back to using 1.6 L capacity motors. Despite the capacity decrease, the new engines are more powerful than the Zetecs, and weigh more than 20 kg less, reducing overall weight and increasing performance significantly.

Unusually for any racing formula, one Minister Racing Engines-built engine became a legend - known as "Patch" after the number of times its cylinder block had been repaired, the same unit won several Formula Ford festivals in different hands.

Ford administers some of the national Formula Ford championships around the world, but older cars are very popular with club racers, providing the ground for several organizations to run their own series. Many racing schools offer driver training in Formula Ford cars. However, in many countries, Formula BMW and Formula Renault Campus had superseded Formula Ford as the main entry level class, however 2006/7 have seen the Ford grids outdoing the BMW's and Renault's. In the UK there are many less important regional series aimed at the amateur enthusiast, as well as championships for older Fords.

For many years the highlight of the Formula Ford season was the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch. Entries of several hundred cars from all over the Formula Ford world were common into the 1990s, with racers competing in knockout heats to decide the grid for a grand final. Entries have been declining and recent Festivals have struggled to attract more than 40-50 cars, enough for two heats and a final dash; more "historic" FF1600 cars have been turning up for the supporting races than contemporary Zetecs, however in 2006 the Festival saw the Duratec engine for the first time thereby having a final for all 3 marques at one meeting for the first time. The Walter Hayes Trophy now recognises the continuing interest in 1600cc 'Kent' Formula Ford and attracted over 150 entries in 2006, including several drivers more commonly seen in much more senior formulae.

Related Formulae
Reynard Formula Ford 2000 at the Nürburgring in 1985Formula Ford has given birth to several other categories of racing: Formula Ford 2000 evolved in the 1970s to use a Pinto engine and although it used basically Formula Ford chassis, permitted use of slicks and wings; it was seen as a natural step up from the 1600cc formula and a stepping stone to categories such as Formula Three. Formula Ford 2000 engines and transmissions were married to sports-racing chassis to produce Sports 2000.

Older Formula Fords, with outboard shock absorbers, race in the United States as Club Formula Fords in SCCA and other club racing series.

Formula 100 was an unsuccessful attempt in the late 1960s to create a sportscar category related to Formula Ford but using a 1300 cc Ford engine; despite being extremely pretty, the cars were heavy and slow. The proposed Formula Turbo Ford (an attempt to update FF2000) of the mid-1980s was limited to one Reynard that ran a few demonstration laps.

Formula Ford remains immensely popular at grassroots level in its 1600 cc form, though — the cars are widely raced, sprinted and hillclimbed. Formula Continental is also a popular choice in the USA and Canada. The class provides a venue for Formula Ford 2000 as well as the earlier Formula C (1100 cc pure racing engine) and Formula Super Vee (production-based VW engines). Formula Continental cars employ aerodynamic effects (front and rear wings).

Formula First was a partly successful attempt to get back to the roots of Formula Ford, with a spec FFord-like car running a transversely-mounted Ford engine in a very low state of tune; it was designed as an introductory formula and racing school chassis, and served in this capacity for some years.

British Formula Ford Series
Formula Ford Australia
Formula Ford Club of Holland
Formula Ford - New Zealand

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Comment by Scott Smith on February 23, 2009 at 5:55pm
Well unfortunately it's over already. I sure enjoyed it!!
Comment by Scott Smith on February 23, 2009 at 5:12pm
I'm just sitting down to watch the 2008 Formula Ford Festival from Brands Hatch. Can't wait!!
Comment by Scott Smith on February 19, 2009 at 1:29am
The pictures are in the galleries drop down.
Comment by Scott Smith on February 18, 2009 at 11:55am
Just wanted to say hi to everyone. I have a confession. I don't own a Formula Ford, but love Formula Ford racing.
The Formula Ford racing is usually the highlight of my weekend at the track.
I also have lots of Formula Ford pictures on my site

Nice to meet everyone.
Comment by Michael Dunham on January 13, 2009 at 2:37pm
I have a Reynard FF-75 Chassis #009 that was built in late 1975 – early 1976, by Adrian Reynard and Bill Stone (former production chief at March Racing) in their small shop in St John Street, Bicester, England operating as Sabre (an anagram of their initials). Chassis 009 was the ninth of only eleven customer cars built by Reynard and Stone in 1975 and 1976, and one of six configured for FF1600 competition. The chassis could accommodate either a 1.6 (FF-75) or 2.0 (SF-75) litre Ford engine. Although Reynard and Stone called their small company Sabre Automotive, the cars were christened Reynards in order to capitalize on Adrian Reynard’s racing success with the chassis in both the British Formula Ford and Formula Ford 2000 racing series.

In 1976 three FF-75 1.6 litre Formula Fords were imported into the U.S. by ADEC in Columbus, Indiana through Hawke, acting as Sabre’s agent. Dennis O’Neal, of Columbus, purchased the first car, totaled it early in the racing season, and replaced it with another one of the FF-75’s from ADEC. James (Jimmie) Rowe, a wealthy gentleman farmer from Metcalf County, Kentucky purchased chassis 009. According to British automotive writer Mike Lawrence, a fourth FF-75 was imported in 1976, but I have no information concerning the importer or customer.

The car was first raced at the SCCA Mid-Ohio National on July 4, 1976. Jimmie Rowe’s main crewman throughout 70’s and early 80’s was David Livingston of Lexington, Tennessee. The car was maintained by Livingston, but not raced for several years as Jimmie Rowe pursued other racing interests until his death in the late 1980’s.

David Livingston purchased the car from Rowe’s widow about a year after Rowe’s death. Livingston raced the FF-75 in the SCCA, first in Formula Ford, then in Club Formula Ford through 1995. In the spring of 1996 the car underwent a full frame-off restoration complete with a new Charlie Williams-built trick, but legal, engine. Livingston raced the car a few times following the restoration, but had to park it when he could no longer fit into it.

I purchased the FF-75 from David in August 2002, and first raced it in June 2003 at a Midwestern Council event at Blackhawk Farms, finishing on the podium in the Club Formula Ford class. The car was raced in six events at Blackhawk in 2003 and 2004 as both a FF and CFF. The FF-75 became VARA, and SCCA historic-eligible in 2004.

I am aware of only one other FF-75 still in the United States. It was purchased by Dan Targonski of suburban Chicago in March 2002 from Gregory Noe. The car was bought disassembled, and, as of the last communication I had from Dan in the summer 2003, the car was still not put together.

This is a distinguished, historically important car that has never been bent, and is a real kick to drive.
Comment by Romana DIDIER on January 10, 2009 at 9:12am
for your information, I give you links to the two French FFord 1600 championships' websites:

All the best

Comment by Romana DIDIER on January 10, 2009 at 7:49am

I am a French Formula Ford fan and owned three cars in the past: a Swift 89, and two Swift SC92F, which I consider the best FFord 1600 ever built. I raced them between 1993 and 1997, and also drove Mygales and a Van Diemen 90. Recently, in November 2008 I returned to Formula Ford racing, and I you may find my press release hereunder. Sorry, it is a bit long!
Best wishes to all, Romana

Press Release November 13th 2008
Romana Didier / Walter Hayes Trophy for Formula Ford 1600cc
Silverstone, November 1-2 2008

The best and only French!

Chief columnist and press officer Romana Didier was the only French driver in the entry list for the Walter Hayes Trophy’s eighth edition at Silverstone National Circuit. The Formula Ford 1600 returnee couldn’t make it to the Grand Final, neither to the Semi-finals or Last Chance Race, but really enjoyed fighting around the 1.639-mile Silverstone National circuit at the wheel of his blue-white and red Van Diemen RF80. The meeting attracted a huge 119 entries, including the likes of 1988 Le Mans 24 Hours winner Andy Wallace, FIA GT race winner Ryan Sharp, Le Mans GT1 category double winner Darren Turner, Le Mans Series LMP2 star Michael Vergers and LMS points finisher Joey Foster…

The driver from the Val de Loire region of France was a Superkart regular between 2002 and 2006, but she is also a Formula Ford enthusiast. In the middle of the nineties, she took the runner-up spot once and third place twice in the FF1600 French national Trophy. In 1996, she finished 7th in the Euro Formula Ford Cup in the 1600 class, but had to stop single-seater racing in 1997, due to a lack of backing…

“The last race I entered before this week-end was already an end of season one-off event in England: the Castle Combe Carnival. In 1997, I sold my Swift 92 to a Cornish driver, who invited me to drive it at Combe, and I came home 15th. What a great memory! Six years later, I went to Brands Hatch to cover the Formula Ford Festival for Kart mag. There I met Steve Roberts and his family, and we became good friends. I live near Le Mans, they live near Silverstone, and we have found several occasions to meet and celebrate our passions for Motorsport, punk-rock, top of the pops hits and Morrissey. Steve is a Karting regular and part-time Formula Ford racer, and our aim was to be team-mates for the Walter Hayes Trophy, which he had described to me as the greatest Formula Ford 1600 race in the world. Unfortunately we could only secure one seat. Steve decided that I would be the team’s sole entrant for the WHT, and that he would race the car at Anglesey two weeks later… This meant that I was supposed not to wreck the car at Silverstone! But during the meeting, Steve learnt that the Welsh race was withdrawn. It was a shame for him, but I knew I was free to crash the car.”

Patrice Bourget, a former Courage Competition chief mechanic at Le Mans who already ran a Mygale at the Formula Ford Festival, had been entrusted with the technical aspect of the WHT project. He had to solve a few mechanical problems in Friday’s testing. Ignition failure forced Romana to stop on his first lap. “I was saved by Darren Turner, who went off in the gravel trap at Brooklands” said the French driver. “The session was red flagged and I could be given a tow by the marshals. Thanks to Patrice, who quickly fixed the problem, I could soon rejoin the pack and begin to learn the track. In the second session, I thought I had blown the engine coming out of Woodcote! It was just a throttle problem, but I had to stop the car at Copse and sit out for the second half of the session.”

The official part of the meeting began with a qualifying session, in which Romana’s transponder didn’t work, but once again a miracle happened: the timekeepers operated manually and the #37 Van Diemen (legendary F1 driver Arturo Merzario’s race number in the late seventies) set the 18th time. “The track was damp and ten minutes was all I got to get used to the grip.” The Silverstone beginner had to make do with starting from the outside of row 9 for the Heat. Finishing in the top 11 to qualify straight for the Semi-Finals seemed hopeless, but being part of the 12th to 16th finishers was definitely a possibility… Until the former Le Mans 24 Hours for karts winner approached Brooklands. “I saw a driver spin, and I expected this to happen as he already spun in the green flag laps. I made a move to the left, and I thought I could pass safely, but he didn’t brake hard enough to stop his car spinning. I had to brake heavily and couldn’t avoid a slight contact with one of his rear wheels. My engine stalled in the process.”

The incident cost the French driver dear, but she was firmly determined to strike back in a wet Sunday morning Progression Race. Unfortunately, the latter rapidly turned into a Regression Race. “I was 12th on the grid, and I had to finish in the Top 6 to qualify for the Last Chance Race. It was a difficult task, because a few frontrunners had failed to qualify in their heat, and they were behind me on the grid! But I did a good start and took advantage of a clash in the pit straight. The race was logically red flagged and when racing resumed, I made a poor start with too much wheelspin. I lost several places in early stages and my qualification hopes vanished.” That was the end of the French touch peril. “I think I needed more mileage to be on the pace, especially in the wet. Anyway, I have no regret. I took part in a great event, at a fantastic venue, with a wonderful team of friends.”

The race commemorates Ford’s “image maker” Walter Hayes, who died in 2000. One of his greatest achievements was probably to introduce the giant corporation to Cosworth Engineering, to create the famous DFV Formula 1 engine. The 2008 edition of the WHT was won by 16 year-old American Conor Daly, the son of former Williams, Tyrrell, Hesketh, Ensign, RAM-March and Theodore F1 driver Derek.

“I would like to thank the officials of the meeting, my race engineer Patrice and his girlfriend Martine, the owner of the car « Jones the Race », the commentator David Addison, the photographer Jeff Bloxham, and my English friends Steve, Gillie, Hannah, Jane and Jon for supporting my efforts and offering food and shelter. I hope next year will see a massive French entry, and I’ll do my best to advertise the meeting on the other side of the Channel!” said Romana in conclusion.
Comment by Gary C on October 30, 2008 at 5:35pm
good evening everyone from the UK. I own a 1969 Nike Formula Ford and run it with the Historic Sports Car Club.
Comment by Yasuto Yamada on July 3, 2008 at 8:44pm

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