The Formula Ford category is alive and well in New Zealand with 32 cars on track over the weekend! Hang-on, that is 32 Formula Fords competing at two different meetings!
Yes, two separate Formula Ford (or Formula 1600) meetings on the same weekend. The 2019/20 NZ Formula Ford Championship had their second round at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon in Feilding with a reported 12 cars competing at the meeting. The 2019/20 South Island Formula 1600 Championship got underway at the Mike Pero Motorsport Park in Christchurch with 20 cars taking to the grid.
Let’s re-establish the fact that 32 Formula Fords competing means the category is very much alive. But at two separate meetings on the same weekend? That is a symptom that all is not well.
Would we have separate BNT V8 meetings on at the same time, or the South Island Endurance Series on the same weekend as the North Island?
So how did this come about. Talkmotorsport has spent plenty of time investigating the background to the current situation (See It’s a dog’s breakfast). It’s now about where do we go from here which doesn’t appear to be that straight forward.
In January, the South Island F1600 champs will have their fifth and sixth rounds as part of the Speed Works summer series meetings. First at Highlands Motorsport Park, Cromwell, (17-19 January) and then the following weekend at Teretonga Park in Invercargill (24-26 January 2020).
The Teretonga meeting will also be the third NZ Formula Ford Championship round. Here’s the rub – we will have both championships at the same track on the same weekend but with separate races! Now, how do you explain that one to race fans?
It probably won’t be explained or even resolved this season.
Why? It is a matter of numbers and at the moment neither party needs the other. The South Island Championship is successfully run by the South Island Formula Ford Club (SIFF). It has been both popular and successful for a number of year and will keep doing so. Such is the depth of commitment and passion by its committee and members, it is a series that continues to grow and attract more drivers. It is also a series that has a good pool of Formula Ford owners (both young and old) who just love to go racing.
The national Formula Ford championship has the numbers for a reasonable grid and this season can operate on its own. It has a great crop of young drivers this season, but the problem will be when this wave of talent moves on to another category. What will happen then?