Australia’s open-wheel racing history will be celebrated at the nation’s action track, Winton Motor Raceway on 15-16 October with the inaugural Winton Formula Festival.
Headlining the event will be a 13-car field of Formula 5000s. These V8-powered, high-horsepower machines are the spiritual predecessors to the modern-day S5000 race cars and can be guaranteed to put on a spectacular show at Winton.
The Formula 5000 drivers will compete for the Rose City Trophy – a throwback to one of the most famous races ever held at Winton, the Rose City 10,000 of 1978 which saw then-Formula 1 racer James Hunt brought to Australia by the Benalla Auto Club.
The field includes a few drivers with a wealth of open-wheel experience, including former historic Formula Ford front-runners Geoff Walters and Tim Berryman, along with former Australian Formula Ford and Formula 3 Championship competitor Tom Tweedie.
While the S5000s are spectacular, when it comes to categories with a history of nurturing up-and-coming young talent, there is no disputing Formula Ford’s place as the country’s longest-standing and most highly-regarded junior development category.
Since 1969, Formula Ford has been the breeding ground for Australia’s most successful drivers, both domestically and internationally, with graduates from the category including the likes of Larry Perkins, Thomas Mezera, Russell Ingall, Craig Lowndes, Steven Richards, Mark Webber, Will Power, Will Davison, Garth Tander, Jamie Whincup, Nick Percat, Chaz Mostert, Anton De Pasquale and Cameron Waters.
At Winton, there will be three separate Formula Ford categories: Duratec (for cars running the current fuel injected motor out of the Ford Fiesta road car), Kent (for modern cars running the carburetted 1.6 Litre engine that was used in the national series up to the end of 2005) and Historic, for cars built prior to 1990.
Formula Ford Association Administrator Phil Marrinon said the Winton Formula Festival is an opportunity to bring together Formula Fords from all eras.
“It’s not very often we get to have a race meeting with all different generations of Formula Fords, from the early historic vehicles all the way through to current model cars,” Marrinon said.
“One of the best things about Formula Ford is how little the fundamentals of the category have changed over the years – the cars are still open-wheelers with 1.6 Litre engines and no aero. It just shows how good the original concept was in the first place.
“It means there’s a big community of historic Formula Ford racers, as well as the young up-and-coming drivers who continue to race the later cars.”
The Duratec and Kent Classes will run on Yokohama tyres, while the Historic Class will run on Avons.
Another long-standing open-wheel category has been Formula Vee, which has run in Australia since 1965.
The Formula Vees will compete for their national title at Winton, with separate races for the 1600cc cars and 1200cc/historic vehicles.
The 1600 field in particular is shaping up to be ultra-competitive, with front-runners from multiple states travelling to Winton to vie for championship glory.
Front-runners from Victoria include Heath Collinson, Jake Rowe and Reef McCarthy; Rowe and McCarthy are both former Victorian State Champions, while McCarthy is competing in the Super2 Series at the Bathurst 1000 this weekend.
The other state with a large contingent of likely title contenders is New South Wales, which happens to be the home state of the reigning national Champion, Simon Pace. Simon’s son Aaron is also one of the front-runners in the NSW State Championship, with other fast NSW drivers include Darren Williams, Michael Kinsella and Dylan Thomas.
West Australia will be represented by David Caisley, who has demonstrated his abilities in past national events, while ACT driver Daniel Reynolds is a former champion in NSW, Victoria and the national series.
The Winton Formula Festival will be live streamed by Blend Line TV.
Photography Credit: Peter Ellenbogen