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Old 19 Jul 2017, 11:48 (Ref:3752753)   #1
old man
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Choice in Single Seater Series

Autosport Digital has just done a review of Formula Ford 1600 and this prompts me to think about where we are in the "lower" formula. Most if not all our junior single seat series are run with a prescribed chassis and engine package. It is said that this is to keep costs down and level the playing field but I wonder if this is really a good thing?

Going back to the days when an aspiring karter or someone who fancied this motor racing lark moved into car racing in "our" day the way forward was to get an FF1600 car. One had a choice of chassis manufacturers and engine tuners and a ready market of second hand cars and parts. A good driver had the chance of deals with these firms and a lot of good guys ran the cars themselves with a car and trailer. The many single circuit or local championships allowed drivers to compete with minimal travelling and then move up to National level with help from the chassis and engine firms. Ford got many years of free publicity as we all just used the formula and built up to the Festival.

Change came with Formula Vauxhall when the car was a package deal and there was actual prize money. My question is, was that really a step forward for the aspiring driver?

Now you must have a defined car, spares from the factory, engines from a controlled source and to stand any chance be run by a fully professional team. A budget running to six figures is required and there is no incentive for suppliers to help young drivers.

Granted, there were the pro teams even then but competition to sell cars and tune engines kept costs down.

I am not sure we have progressed for the aspiring enthusiast and have made the sport more eliteist
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Old 19 Jul 2017, 13:45 (Ref:3752781)   #2
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Going back to the days when an aspiring karter or someone who fancied this motor racing lark moved into car racing in "our" day the way forward was to get an FF1600 car. One had a choice of chassis manufacturers and engine tuners and a ready market of second hand cars and parts. A good driver had the chance of deals with these firms and a lot of good guys ran the cars themselves with a car and trailer. The many single circuit or local championships allowed drivers to compete with minimal travelling and then move up to National level with help from the chassis and engine firms.
You might be better putting this topic in the Historic Motorsport section as I'd guess there would be more of a discussion.

In my view national single seater motorsport has definitely regressed a long way since the days you mention. People would do National F Ford with a Dad and a lad and a transit van, now you have to an artic lorry, awnings, hospitality, matching floor tiles and grid girls etc etc.

I am probably an old f@@t but I wish we could go back to the days you mention. Time for a cheap single seater formula with List 1b tyres, spaceframe, no aero and something like a 3 cylinder Suzuki turbo engine for power (as used in the bottom of the range Caterham 7. Ban trucks, and only let University teams build and run cars????
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Old 19 Jul 2017, 19:19 (Ref:3752850)   #3
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we all know it will never go back to how it was, you can't un-open pandora's box. you could start a series as open as formula ford and within a few months some teams would be going flat out on testing and researching the car. even if you had a dad and a lad, there's always going to be a dad now with an improbable amount of money to throw at it via a big team. they can make anything cost six or seven figures if they wanted to.

from an aspiring driver perspective, you could easily get up to some really loud single seaters without touching one of the "professional" fancy series. but do f1 teams understand and watch those series? no. although if a driver had a big enough wallet and was intent on staying away from the pro stuff you probably could pursuade them to take a look...
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Old 19 Jul 2017, 23:12 (Ref:3752904)   #4
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Out of interest how many recent (say the last 10 years ish) relatively successful single seater drivers have NOT come to the fore via karting?

Of those, how many have not had big money behind them?

Finally, how many have arrived, run 2 or 3 seasons and then vanished from the scene?

Is the "race career" pattern significantly different to what it was in the era of the early days of FF1600? (So late 60s into the late 70s).
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Old 20 Jul 2017, 12:17 (Ref:3753048)   #5
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re: not much or no karting racing experience... the obvious one is bruno senna, but he obviously has a few other things going for him.

the trend you're going to see now with the ginetta juniors and formula 4 is kids who are 16 having already done several years in car racing. example: jordan cane, who just turned 16 and is competing in brdc "british f3". he's already done several seasons worth of racing in the states. cameron das is a year older with the same amount of experience but not a huge amount of karting. slightly older, but jamie chadwick is 19 and has 5 seasons worth of pretty diverse car racing experience.

obviously they're all very well off, but i'd be interested to see what the actual cost (minus prize money paying for it, for example) of running an equivalent car would have been 40 years ago. then turn it into todays money.
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Old 20 Jul 2017, 12:49 (Ref:3753065)   #6
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i'd be interested to see what the actual cost (minus prize money paying for it, for example) of running an equivalent car would have been 40 years ago. then turn it into todays money.
The best I can do from a very quick Google is this article,

http://www.startline.org.uk/slol48/fforigins.htm

Which suggests that a season in F Ford in 1984 cost about 30k. And an on line calculator tells me that 1984 30k is the equivelant of 91k in 2017.

Average house prices in 1984 were 29k . I can't find a figure for average wages but I'd guess it was about 13k?

Last edited by andy97; 20 Jul 2017 at 13:02.
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Old 20 Jul 2017, 13:03 (Ref:3753070)   #7
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Bella, What is an equivalent car?
As a dad who was doing this 40 years ago I can give examples but only at National or local level, in early to mid 80s I built a FF1600 from second hand spares for about 3k and we ran it locally out of my income as a rep with about 1k of outside financial help, the driver was still at school and mates helped with set-up and technical stuff.
A couple of years later with a new car in the National Championships still towed behind my company car we spent perhaps 10k. The following year in a factory car, (again FF1600) from a rival firm they asked for 5k contribution but paid the rest, it cost us travel, hotels etc.
What is the escalator to put that in today's money?
After the first year in a new car we would have had to find circa 125k to go F3 if i remember correctly but there were teams with "opportunities"
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Old 20 Jul 2017, 13:36 (Ref:3753082)   #8
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F3 was very good, it honed drivers set up skills and so that's where multi make formula works. The problem is their is too many single make formulas and if we are to have more open chassis/engine formulas, we need to keep the costs down.
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Old 20 Jul 2017, 13:47 (Ref:3753087)   #9
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Bella, What is an equivalent car?
i was thinking in relevant terms, so whatever the equivalent top of the national ladder single seater series would be for example.

i suppose you could maybe say that the cost of competing has gone up in a similar way to buying a home has, ie it's several times more expensive outright, but the situation is completely different to how it was back then. for example, mortgages now are easier to come by and culturally it's normal to own a home and owe a substantial amount of money on it versus previously it wasn't normal to either own a home or have a huge amount of debt. equally paying for a season in f4 with a big team gets you quite a lot more than a transit van and an easyup. whether you actually want or need all that is another matter.
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Old 20 Jul 2017, 14:09 (Ref:3753090)   #10
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What I am saying Bella is there is no current equivalent to the original FF1600 and I believe that is shame, people like my son and I do not have the same opportunity.

Using the escalator that Andy gives above we multiply 1984 rates by about 3 so my figure for F3 at about this time becomes 375k, is that accurate? What would that buy you now? In those days you got a pro team and support but paid your own subsistence and travel. What is British F3 now? I think it does not compare in terms of driver career promotion where now one would have to do Euro F3 to be "noticed"

On the way back from Silverstone we discused the cost of entry to the sport and concluded that the aspiring driver is now more likely to do virtual racing to get a feel for driving and a measure of ability rather than the real thing.
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Old 22 Jul 2017, 04:35 (Ref:3753461)   #11
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The days of Lads and Dads in Formula Ford are probably over but it does depend on where you live. In Canada and Australia for example there is more of an opportunity for reasonably priced drives in Fford. In the UK one option would be something like Formula Jedi or other categories of the Monoposto Racing Club.
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Old 22 Jul 2017, 05:50 (Ref:3753466)   #12
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In the U.K. FFord would be the only real competitive option
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Old 22 Jul 2017, 10:41 (Ref:3753490)   #13
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America has a better ladder system over there anyway and it's driving schools have proven good talent over time, long may it continue. Over here it probably still needs a few tweaks to the ladder
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Old 22 Jul 2017, 14:22 (Ref:3753524)   #14
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F Jedi and Monoposto are both club racers series - and good for that - but not on the career ladder, which is what i thought we were talking about here.
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Old 22 Jul 2017, 14:28 (Ref:3753526)   #15
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Out of interest how many recent (say the last 10 years ish) relatively successful single seater drivers have NOT come to the fore via karting?

Of those, how many have not had big money behind them?

Finally, how many have arrived, run 2 or 3 seasons and then vanished from the scene?

Is the "race career" pattern significantly different to what it was in the era of the early days of FF1600? (So late 60s into the late 70s).

Dont know the answer to any of that sorry, but i think the days of Jonathon Palmer coming from Modsports, Derek Warwick from Stock Cars, Martin Brundle from Grass track etc has long gone!!

Shame really.

Andrew Jordan went rally crossing first, i think and some decent tin top drivers started out in T- Cars.

More recently, a couple of decent drivers have come via the Nissan GT/ Playstation gaming academy. Jan Mardenborough (?) being the best known, i think. Maybr thst will happen more and more.
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