The History of Formula Ford Racing in Australia
Formula Ford Racing in Australia has a storied history, serving as the launching pad for numerous Motorsport careers. This thrilling category has played a pivotal role in nurturing young driving talent in the Land Down Under.
Join us as we rev up the engines of history and explore the fascinating journey of Formula Ford racing in Australia.
In 1970, the Australian Motorsport scene saw the birth of something remarkable - Formula Ford racing. Inspired by the success of the category in the UK, Formula Ford quickly gained traction, primarily due to its cost-effectiveness and competitiveness. It was an excellent starting point for budding drivers with big dreams.
The Birth of a National Championship
The inaugural Australian Formula Ford Championship roared to life in 1971. This marked the category's official recognition and ascent to the national stage. The championship swiftly drew young, ambitious drivers into its fold, becoming a hotbed for Motorsport talent.
In addition to the national championship, numerous regional and state competitions sprang up. These grassroots events provided emerging talents with opportunities to hone their skills, gain experience, and catch the eye of racing scouts. Formula Ford racing was on the rise.
Chassis and Engines Evolution
Formula Ford racing underwent significant changes over the years, especially regarding chassis and engines. Various manufacturers, including Van Diemen, Reynard, Swift, and Mygale, contributed their unique designs. These machines evolved in both aesthetics and performance, enhancing the thrill of racing.
Engines were no exception. Different eras featured engines such as the Ford Kent, Ford Zetec, and Duratec. These engine changes improved both speed and reliability, making for an even more exciting racing experience.
In the 100-year-plus history of Motorsport, some cars stand out as landmarks of the sport. The Swift DB1 is such a car. It changed the Formula Ford class forever. Dave Bruns, the designer of the Swift DB1, had the vision to bring Formula 1 technology to racers on a Formula Ford budget. The SwiftDB1 had a lowered front, a needle nose, and wide tracks with suspension units tucked out of the airstream, with a more extended, narrower, and stiffer chassis.
In the late 80s and throughout the 90s, some of Van Diemen's finest cars inspired two newly founded Australian-based Formula Ford manufacturers for their first cars: Spectrum and Stealth. In fact, Stealth Formula Fords started off as a modified version of the Van Diemen RF94 chassis, with an upgraded suspension and body kit. Some of these Stealth-upgraded Van Diemen's were also exported to New Zealand, where they are still competitive at National level.
The 1600cc Ford “Duratec” engine as used in the Ford Fiesta road car was introduced for the 2006 Australian Championship, replacing the Ford “Kent” engine that had been mandatory for Formula Ford in Australia for over 30 years.
Since the introduction of the Duratec engine, Australian Championship spoils have been shared between the Spirit, Spectrum and Mygale chassis.
The Cradle of Champions
Formula Ford racing in Australia has produced a long list of exceptional drivers. This category is the cradle of champions, with household names like Mark Webber, Craig Lowndes, Will Davison, and Tim Slade having all cut their teeth in Formula Ford. These drivers leveraged their success in this category to propel themselves into international stardom. Formula Ford was, without a doubt, their launchpad to success.
The Recent Landscape
In recent years, Formula Ford racing has faced its share of challenges. Participation numbers have dwindled, and the Motorsport landscape has shifted. However, the passion for this category still burns brightly, with dedicated individuals working hard to breathe new life into it.
Formula Ford racing in Australia is more than just a racing category; it's a breeding ground for Motorsport legends. It has a history replete with passion, perseverance, and the pursuit of dreams. As it continues to evolve, Formula Ford racing remains a vital part of the Australian motorsport scene, promising to uncover the next generation of racing superstars.
Experience it for yourself!
If you're itching to experience the rich history and thrilling competition of Formula Ford racing in Australia, we have Driving Experiences available at Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW and Wodonga Tafe Driver Training Facility, VIC.
Experience the thrill of driving a genuine Formula Ford Race Car on some of Australia's iconic purpose-built Race Tracks!
Unlike other Driving Experiences, we put you in the driver's seat of Single-Seat Race Cars...
No instructor beside you, just pure, exhilarating driving freedom.