Australia’s national Formula Ford Championship will be scrapped at the end of the current season, casting a major blow to the aspirations of young Australian open-wheel racers hoping to forge a Formula 1 career.
The announcement was made yesterday by Australia’s motorsport governing body, the Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS), which cited Ford’s withdrawal of funding as the reason for the category’s demise.
“As much as CAMS would like to see a thriving national Formula Ford competition, this has been and will be difficult to achieve,” CAMS CEO Eugene Arocca is quoted as saying.
“We agreed to run the category in 2013 when the category manager at the time was not able to continue doing so due to financial pressures – primarily a result of the withdrawal of important funding from [Ford].
“Those pressures have not eased and despite careful management of the category this year by CAMS, we simply cannot justify the time and money it will take to continue doing so beyond 2013.”
State-level championships will continue – as they are privately run without CAMS’ funding – and there are plans for a national Ford Ford Festival (similar to the British version) to be held at the end of each year.
The Formula Ford Championship has been a mainstay of the Australian motorsport scene for over 40 years, with a host of past and present top-level drivers claiming the national championship en route to major motorsport stardom.
The past honour roll reads like a who’s who of motorsport ‘Down Under’, with title-winners including the likes of Larry Perkins (1971), Russell Ingall (1990), Craig Lowndes (1993), Jason Bright (1995), Garth Tander (1997), Will Davison (2001), Jamie Whincup (2002), David Reynolds (2004) and Chaz Mostert (2010).
The Formula Ford Championship is the second national open-wheel championship to cease in the last 15 years, with the Formula 3000/Holden Championship stopping in the late 1990s.
That will leave the Australian Formula 3 Championship as the sole national-level open-wheel racing championship in the country, which is itself struggling with rapidly dwindling grids – the last round at Queensland Raceway featured just nine cars.
This will have serious knock-on effects for local drivers who are looking to move up the motorsport ladder and break into major international competition.
Australia’s two Formula 1 drivers on this year’s grid, Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo, both had to head overseas early in their motorsport career – at considerable expense to their families – to further their prospects of breaking into F1.