BRSCC Northern Classic Formula Ford Features Historic Formula Ford Opinion Uncategorized

How many is too many?

The Historic and Classic Formula Ford 1600 season is almost upon us. James Beckett’s new United Formula Ford championship and the BRSCC’s Northern and Superclassic series have already had their opening rounds, as well as the National championship.

All of these championships are open in some way to pre-1982 machinery, with pre-1972 cars being theoretically eligible for all of them. This begs the question: are there too many championships for older Formula Fords?

The idea for this article came soon after United Formula Ford was announced late last year, replacing the Heritage Formula Ford series which was primarily for pre-1993 cars. There was a degree of anger from some commenters, who saw the multi-class United championship as potentially diluting existing grids and weakening the existing historic series. A few others also expressed disappointment that a dedicated race series for pre-1993 cars was being superseded.

Enigma Motorsport boss and Historic competitor Linton Stutely has a good perspective on this issue, as he is running cars in both the HSCC Classic and United championships for different drivers this year.

“I don’t think there are too many series,” he said, adding that he does not think that the HSCC ones are in any danger.

“We aren’t interested in racing anyone other than the best drivers in their respective classes.

“We don’t turn up to get a trophy, we turn up to try to beat the best.

“And historics can’t compete with modern cars.”

HSCC Historic FF1600 championship co-ordinator Ted Pearson does understand some of the criticisms and makes a comparison with the HSCC’s successful Formula Ford 2000 championship, which regularly has over-subscribed grids.

“If you’ve got a Formula Ford 2000, where else can you run it? Monoposto?

“In our world, 1600s, you can run it in the HSCC championship, or you can run it in Classic Formula Ford as well. Or you could run it with James Beckett, or with the BRSCC in the Northern championship. You can do one-off races with it here and there, and you can do Monopostos. You can do anything with it.

“There’s a lot of choice for people, particularly with a historic car or a classic car.”

Numbers at the opening BRSCC and United meetings this weekend suggest that numbers of pre-’82 cars will be fairly low in both championships, but some commenters are still worried.

One way round this issue would be for Formula Ford championship co-ordinators to work together more, agreeing on a balanced calendar with the minimum of clashes, allowing entrants to make guest appearances at their local or favourite track without interfering with championship commitments. Those who would benefit most from this are drivers like United racewinner James Hadfield, who is normally working on customers’s cars during HSCC race weekends.

There is also a case for regional championships like BRSCC Northern, which cater to racers who prefer not to use their budget on extensive travel to southern England, or work long hours and find it hard to travel.

Pearson goes on to say that clubs like having Formula Ford at their meetings too.

“It’s the best racing.”

Historic Formula Ford HSCC Opinion Uncategorized

When is a race not a race?

Readers of Vintage Formula Ford were expecting a first Historic race report from Brands Hatch on Saturday. The reason for that is that there was no race result to report.

First of all, we must acknowledge that an accident at Druids between Ross Drybrough’s Merlyn and Simon Toyne’s Lola resulted in Drybrough’s car turning over and Drybrough himself suffering a severe hand injury. Vintage Formula Ford wishes him a speedy recovery.

Normally, in the case of a red flag like the one which followed Drybrough’s accident, the race can be restarted. However, this red flag was the second one; the race had already been stopped after three laps to allow for the retrieval of Paul Unsworth’s Lola T200 from the gravel. Less than two laps were completed after the restart, meaning an insufficient amount of the 20-minute planned race length had elapsed for a result to be declared. Time pressures ruled out a second restart.

There are plans for another race to be scheduled later in the year to replace the voided one at Brands. Once it was known that Drybrough had got out of his upturned car by himself and that his injuries were not life-threatening, a certain amount of understandable disappointment came to the surface. After all, entry fees had been paid and some competitors had travelled considerable distances.

The issue of restarts and when to use the safety car is informed by several factors, including time pressures, weather, levels of marshal support and the severity of the incident.

The time issue is compounded by compulsory noise curfews at many circuits. This can be the result of land close to circuits being sold off cheaply due to noise concerns. The land is then built on and some residents then complain to the council about being able to hear engines. This is not a problem confined to motorsport; music venues have also suffered badly and even primary schools receive these sorts of complaint. It would help if noise nuisance claims were not taken seriously where a sports or entertainment venue already existed before land was developed, but this is a legislative issue and not easily solved quickly.

Marshal numbers are also an ongoing concern throughout motorsport. Sometimes this is due to multiple events on the same weekend, which cannot always be helped. Recruiting new marshals, especially younger ones, is important if problems like those at Brands are to be avoided in future. There are always hundreds of young people wanting to get more involved in motorsport and MSUK would do well to ask them what the barriers are to them taking up marshalling. Perhaps offering them a discount on license application or devising other competition-related perks for young fans and wannabe drivers who offer their services as marshals would help.

Weather is always a factor, but that of course cannot be helped.

(Image copyright HSCC)

Classic Formula Ford FF2000 Historic Formula Ford HSCC Opinion

Formula Ford goes

From the outside, all of the HSCC Formula Ford categories appeared to be running smoothly, discounting the odd bump and gravel excursion. Only slightly under the surface, however, in the garage and the paddock, the last-minute effort required just to get out on track could be seen.

Last-minute entries

Historic Formula Ford 1600 winner Tom McArthur had always intended to race at Donington, but he wasn’t on the early entry lists as he had forgotten to get his forms in.

His fellow Historic racer Callum Grant heard that McArthur was racing and decided to get his own late entry in too.

Last-minute engines

Henry Chart was forced to miss both Cadwell Classic FF1600 rounds due to a blown engine. His Van Diemen RF81’s new engine was only just fitted in time for Donington; the work was just about finished on Thursday, meaning that qualifying was Chart’s first chance to test the new unit. Thankfully it was running well.

Formula Ford 2000 front-runner Benn Simms was less lucky. He had replaced much of his Reynard SF77’s engine the week before Donington, with the added pressure of moving house. The Reynard’s shakedown during qualification was less successful though and Simms was unable to start the race itself, with ominous noises coming from the back of the car.

Last-minute driver?

Formula Ford 2000 Class B leader Fraser Collins only just got into the circuit in time to qualify his Lola T580. More on Collins’s race against time tomorrow…

Image courtesy of Richard Towler

Features Opinion

Hope is the sound of an old Ford engine

The return of club motor racing is a huge step towards a world we recognise.

On-track action from Formula One and Formula E has been back on our screens for a while now and international sportscar racing has begun again across the Atlantic, but it was only when my accreditation arrived for the Snetterton HSCC meeting that I started to feel part of motor racing once more.

This post-event opinion column was meant to discuss possible championship rivalries, new drivers, new cars and the latest controversies, but it’s really just a huge verbal sigh of relief that club motorsport was still there waiting for us all along.

We’re relieved that the FF1600 tyre issues that plagued last year appear to have been resolved over the off-season. We’re happy that grid sizes at Snetterton were healthy, with a good sprinkling of newcomers and plenty of existing talent. We’re pleased that on-track action was clean and competitive.

Most of all, we’re just glad to be back.

Now, navel-gazing over.

Normal service to be resumed.