The Formula Ford Festival has just taken place in Christchurch celebrating the 40th anniversary of the South Island Formula Ford Club and the 50th year of Formula Ford racing in New Zealand. It is arguably the most successful category in the world and has stood the testament of time.
The first winner of the NZ Formula Ford title, David Oxton (Elfin 600), was at the Festival and Talkmotorsport asked him whether, at that time, o would he have thought the category could have been around for another 50 years?
“When you are 25 years-old you don’t think about being alive at this age, as you never think you will ever get old,” answered Oxton. “Now when I look back and see what the category has come to, the number of drivers it has created, the number of friendships it has built, skills it has taught, sponsors it has introduced, it is absolutely phenomenal.
“I’m just so glad that I have been part of it when it was easy, when it wasn’t half as tough as it is today.”
Formula Ford was introduced in the 1970s as an entry-level single seater category for kartsport drivers to step up to open-wheel formula racing. Different to many categories today, it is not a one-make controlled championship, therefore giving freedom of chassis design and engine build within a set of regulations.
“We have seen it through time, that there has been plenty of three to five-year categories, particularly with tin-tops in NZ,” said Oxton. “Yet nowhere in the world has there been such a successful formula with the original (Ford) Cortina engine that has been used right from the start.
“Nigel Barclay, (Formula Ford Festival organiser) has been a real believer in the category and thanks to him he has put together this wonderful celebration of 50 years of racing in New Zealand.
“Enthusiasm would be the word to describe the formula. It has been built on enthusiasm and has maintained itself on enthusiasm from drivers, car owners, mechanics and all those that have been associated with it over fifty years.”