History of Formula Ford
The origins of Formula Ford began in the early 1960s, where motor racing stables featured single seat cars from world renowned constructors like Cooper and Lotus as well as many aspiring formula 1 stars to drive them. Down on power, the small, high strung 1 litre engines were expensive to build and even more to maintain.
In 1963 collaboration between racing developers saw a Lotus Junior chassis fitted with a stock 1498cc Ford pushrod engine from the Ford Cortina GT sedan. The 1500 Cortina motor, with its excellent reliability and adequate horsepower output proved a resounding success in testing. The drivers of the day experimented with radial tires as well, reducing the cost of entry to open wheeled racing which was gaining popularity by virtue of the romantic portrayal of Formula One in the media
In 1966 a new entry level formula race series named “Formula Ford” with Ford sponsored engines and lightweight Lotus chassis established rules for this new class. Late in 1967, Ford announced the new Formula Ford class to the world with the blessing of F.I.A. The first standalone Formula Ford race took place at Brands Hatch on July 2, 1967 attracting manufacturers and privateer teams including legendary Lotus , Crossle, Dulon, Elden, Hawke and Brabham.
As the production Ford Cortina engine evolved to a new 1600cc crossflow unit, so did the Formula Ford regulations and Formula Ford racing quickly spread across Europe and North America, with the first official Formula Ford race in the United States in March 1969. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, Formula Ford had established itself as a direct path to a seat on a Formula 1 car, the highest level in open wheel motorsport.
Formula Ford is not a one-make championship. It allows freedom of chassis design, engine build and numerous technical items of specification on the car. This opens the door to many chassis manufacturers, large and small. Many other single-seater formulae impose fixed specifications. Only two other professional single seater racing formulae in the world offer the same freedom of chassis and engine build: Formula Three and Formula One.
The cars today
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, relying on mechanical grip and high speed with no aerodynamic disadvantages, allowing some of the closest racing with plenty of overtaking.
On the track you will be driving a mid rear mounted, mildly worked Ford 1800cc Zetec engine mated to a Hewland racing transmission with a 4 speed manual and Formula specification clutch and flywheel package.
Don’t underestimate the small engine displacement, the lightweight motor produces peak horsepower at higher revs, but the gearing and the longer stroke of the engine allows you to take advantage of the impressive torque curve at lower rpm’s. When you factor in the extremely light weight of the car at around 550kg’s (including you!) you are looking at a seriously fast machine.
How fast? With a good driver the Formula Ford will be faster around any of our tracks than the same driver in a Porsche 911 GT3 RS, which in turn is about as fast as a Holden or Ford V8 Supercar.
Chassis: Tubular space frame (exotic materials prohibited) construction confined to maximum dimension.
Engine: 145 PS (143 hp or 107 kW and 140 lb·ft or 190 N·m) DOHC four-cylinder Ford Zetec engine, sealed on cylinder head and front and rear crankshaft seal covers.
Steering: Rack and pinion
Suspension: Front & Rear – pushrod activated dual damper system. Full racing car suspension designs are required to ensure maximum tyre grip at various cornering speeds. Chassis balance is adjustable and controlled by damper, spring and anti-roll bar combinations.
Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes have independent front and rear activation. Front/rear bias is adjustable.
Gearbox: Limited to 4 forward and 1 reverse gear. Ratios can be changed to suit various circuits and conditions.
Fuel tank: 41-litre
Tyres: Front & rear – 5.5 in Avon (ACB10) tyres. A grooved Avon racing tyre is chosen for optimum grip under all weather conditions. The Avon tyre and compound are specified, ensuring an economical wear rate.