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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Latest Activity: Aug 5, 2017

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 D.C.Fresch on August 5, 2017 at 10:26am

Sebring vintage P&Q july 2017.Best lap yet in the dirt oil traffic.

Comment by D.C.Fresch on June 17, 2017 at 12:05pm
Comment by D.C.Fresch on June 17, 2017 at 12:04pm

Sebring vint 61 6/17

Comment by D.C.Fresch on February 17, 2017 at 7:35pm
OK here is the horses mouth IMSA. See my note below.
I was deeply disappointed to see that after many years of traditionally including Historic/Vintage racing on the 12 Hour schedule, they are not included.
I have for many years driven those support races as well as taken part in the downtown faux tech and drivers parties at the Sebring center.
I have seen fans very supportive of being able to see the older cars off of the mainstream. They usually mention "I use to own one of those". Once after a spin they offered me food and drink at the fence. They definitely come out for more than just the "Big Show", they also enjoy the opening acts. For some, Sebring 12 Hours is the only race they will attend. It is there yearly vacation.
The drivers as well appreciate the opportunity to race in front of such a large crowd, many who may not have the chance to witness the older cars anywhere else.
For me the Historics were my one "Fun" race after a season of serious racing elsewhere. A chance to be a participant in a big show, not just a busy owner/driver chasing a podium finish.
I have talked to many fans and drivers on many different websites that are very upset with this  development.  They wonder just when IMSA started to forget about the racers and the fans in exchange for a better financial arrangement. It's been said all IMSA cares about is the money. If this is so, I will be happy to launch a worldwide boycott of IMSA events throughout the internet. Perhaps the loss of that income will prod you into reconsideration of a very bad decision. It's going to be a long year.
Regards, D.C.Fresch
I will be sending this out as well as flooding websites with it.
If this means anything to you at all. I suggest you use my note as a template and send IMSA a missive declaring your displeasure and intention to boycott the events.
This has been degrading since the end of ALMS.
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Comment by Mark Mcilyar on November 11, 2014 at 4:16pm

Hello fellow race fans,

PLEASE go check out my campaign for Vintage Racer TV Show at

Thanks in advance for any help you can spare. If successful, this project will be fantastic for vintage racing everywhere.

You can also go to (and “Like”) my new Facebook page

I want to hear you comments, suggestions, etc.



Comment by Steve Willing on January 4, 2011 at 5:31am

Hi to everyone!

I am as fresh as they come to car racing, having just purchased an RF82 Van Diemen after 20+ years of karting. I have done about 40 laps in a rev limited RF92 as a 40th present and thoroughly loved it.  The historic formula Ford scene here in Oz is relatively strong, and it appears most drive in a respectful way knowing there are not sheep stations up for grabs. I can't wait to join in the fun, there is a lot to learn.

Comment by Scott Smith on May 17, 2010 at 11:32pm
Just wanted to let everyone know that we added some Formula Ford (OFFC - Ontario Formula Ford Challenge) pictures on our facebook group at: from the Spring Trophy Races.
Comment by amber racing on October 28, 2009 at 4:45am
Amber Racing, uk based historic race car preparers & restorers specialising in formula ford
team management and at circuit services available
contact Neil
+44 07777687703
Comment by Mike Watson on August 22, 2009 at 1:19pm
what a great weekend at Road America! I wasn't able to attend but our crew (taylor race engineering was there) and I know Craig Taylor had a blast re-living the past. Honda's appearance was interesting too... looks like a done deal...
Comment by The on March 18, 2009 at 5:19am
The Walter Hayes trophy is better as it's what the festival used to be like when there was just kent engined cars...they're both good, but a shadow of the festval back in the 80s

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