The Ford Motor Company will sponsor the VSCDA’s Formula Ford 50th anniversary celebration at Road America, it was announced today by Steve Beeler, FF50th organizer.
Ford’s corporate support makes a strong statement that interest in and passion for the world’s most popular and populous single-seater racing formula is as healthy today as it was 50 years ago last month when the first “official” Formula Ford race in the U.S. took place.
“We are thrilled that Ford is helping us celebrate this great occasion,” said Alex Rorke, president of the Vintage Sports Car Drivers Association, the sanctioning club. “With Ford’s support, we have added a third race group. Between Ford’s sponsorship and the dedication of event chairs Mike and Deb Korneli, it’s going to be a spectacular weekend for racers and spectators.”
Originally conceived as a car for a British racing school, early Formula Fords featured a durable Ford four-cylinder passenger car engine. Fun to drive and relatively affordable, the class took off well beyond racing school bounds, first in the UK, then in the US and Canada, Australia and South Africa, and eventually all of Europe.
For more than 20 years, a majority of drivers filling the Formula 1, IndyCar and international sports car racing grids were graduates from the Formula Ford ranks. Internationally, the long list included 10 F1 World Champions, among them Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher.
In IndyCar racing here in the U.S., notables with a FF background include Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Chip Ganassi, defending Indy 500 winner Will Power and the last two IndyCar champions, Josef Newgarden (2017) and Scott Dixon (2018) among many others.
More than 200 different chassis manufacturers on five continents have built and marketed Formula Fords over the last 50 years, ensuring an ample supply of cars as the class has evolved, becoming, today, a staple of vintage racing. And the 1600cc ‘Kent’ Ford engine, although no longer part of Ford’s current car and truck lineup, remains in limited production thanks to the global automaker’s enthusiasm for this much-heralded class.
Several vintage groups in the US will feature Formula Ford in 2019, the class’ 50th anniversary year, but Ford Motor Company’s involvement is with the flagship — the September 11-15 gathering at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Nearly 300 FF entries alone are expected at the FF50th, the headliner at this year’s VSCDA Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival which annually features an array of several hundred historic formula, sports, GT and sports racing cars.
For more information on Formula Ford racing, past, present and future, check out the Formula Ford Racer page on Facebook.
For information on the FF50th and the Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival, log on to https://www.stevebeeler.com/ff50th/ and https://www.vscda.org/events/elkhart-lake-vintage-festival/ respectively.
Drivers and car owners note, the pre-registration window has been extended. Link to https://vscda.org/ff50th-road-america-pre-registration/.
FF-GRADUATE FORMULA 1 WORLD CHAMPIONS
Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, Jody Scheckter, Alan Jones, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, Mika Hakkinen, Jenson Button
FF-GRADUATE INDYCAR CHAMPIONS (incl. IndyCar, CART, IRL, USAC)
Danny Sullivan, Emerson Fittipaldi, Arie Luyendyk, Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Jimmy Vasser, Buzz Calkins, Kenny Brack, Greg Ray, Sam Hornish, Gil de Ferran, Cristiano da Matta, Paul Tracy, Dan Wheldon, Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon