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Formula Ford – The Most Successful Junior Formula Ever
The Formula Ford is a single seater formula racing car that debuted in 1967 using a sixteen hundred cc Cortina engine in the back of a space frame, open wheel chassis with a fiberglass body. The first Formula Ford car ever based on the Lotus Formula Junior. At this time the more sophisticated formulas used alloy monocoques which were expensive, broke in the event of an accident and were generally not repairable, at least economically.
The Formula Ford steel space frame was still light but very strong, cheap to manufacture and in the event of a ‘shunt’ it could be cut, welded, even fixed. The heyday of Formula Ford was actually quite a long time, primarily all of the nineteen seventies and eighties, although it remained very healthy in the nineties and continues today. There were spin-offs, many of them, so many in fact that Formula Ford itself was diluted for a time, Formula Ford 2000, Sports 2000, Formula First and Formula Forward, but none enjoyed success, or as much love. did not attract spectators and drivers. as the original Formula Ford formula sixteen hundred.
Thousands of drivers around the world cut their racing teeth in Formula Fords during the aforementioned decades, when the engine used was the Ford Kent engine, not as easy to get hold of now, but then it is as common as the flower. Early cars usually had front radiators and an external suspension, but due to the popularity of the formula and the simplicity of construction, the number of racing car manufacturers increased. Merlyn, Royale, Van Diemen, Reynard, Swift, Elden, Hawke, Lola, Ray, Titan, Tiga and more joined the Lotus. Some only built Formula Fords, others like Lola participated in many formulas up to and including the Sportscars World Championship, Indy Cars, Formula 5000 and Formula 1.
Motorsport has always been fiercely competitive and so, with all these manufacturers vying for their chance to sell, development was rapid and mirrored developments in the more senior formulas. As an example look at nineteen eighty-three Formula 1 cars like the John Player Special Lotus where the driver looks well forward in the car and then the Van Diemen RF84. All Van Diemens model numbers indicate the specific model year.
Soon there were side radiators, internal suspension, a body that improved airflow around the engine and gearbox, but some things remained the same. During those decades everyone raced the Kent engine and although the Zetec and later Duratec engines took over the formula it is a shadow of its former self. It was so successful in the seventies and eighties for a number of reasons, firstly it was cheap, secondly it was attractive, due to the narrow control beams and lack of aerodynamic equipment, the cars could and did move close to each other, drifting. and flow. slide A variety of producers have added to the audience’s interest and you can actually see new stars in the making.
In 1972, the inaugural Formula Ford Festival was held at Snetterton in Norfolk at the end of the season, it would move to Brands Hatch from 1975 and became a Cup event for Formula Ford drivers around the world. the world It still runs today and even in the nineteen nineties it attracted hundreds of entries from around the world, with support races for other Formula Fords and historic Formula Fords.
Festival winners include Johnny Herbert, Eddie Irvine and most recently Mark Webber, although fourteen winners have gone on to Formula 1 and many who have come close to winning the Festival, such as David Coulthard, have moved on to the sport. It is possible that the Ford Motor Company took their position as number one in grassroots motorsport for granted, or perhaps they thought their position was inevitable, but other companies wanted in on the action, Formula Renault, Formula Vauxhall Lotus ( Opel in other markets), Formula Palmer Audi and others.
In 1981, when the formula was at its peak, the young Ayrton Da Silva, who later changed his name to Senna, moved to England and won both British Grand Prix titles that year. Unfortunately he returned to Brazil before the Formula Ford Festival due to family reasons. Formula Ford has been instrumental in the development of modern motorsport and has brought joy to millions. Read the book ‘Land, Sea And Sky’ to share the experiences of one special Formula Ford driver. http://www.oflandseaandsky.com
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