The Formula Ford association (FFA) has been racing for many years, with various competitions running in different competitions around the country.
motorsport.org.au caught up with club administrator, Phil Marrinon, to get an insight into the association.
Tell us about the Formula Ford Association’s origins?
Phil Marrinon: Formula Ford originally started as a training category at Brands Hatch in the United Kingdom. When one of their staff returned to Australia in the late 1960s and were working at Sandown, they decided to introduce it to the country. In 1969, we set up our own strict rules with Ford Australia and since then, we have changed them very little, meaning that ethos has been maintained for more than 50 years.
How is the Association tracking with members?
We have around 179 members and it’s always stayed around that number. It can be transient category because people come in for a few years to learn the craft and then move into a different category.
Realistically, Formula Ford is for the career and hobby racer alike. We have such a variety of people part of the club, which ranges from 14-year-olds starting out their racing careers to 78-year-old seasoned drivers just having fun. The diversity of our people is what makes us special and it’s not compulsory to join either.
What makes the category popular?
We have always had good fields and it’s been affordable because it’s a great category to learn the ropes in motorsport, such as how to set up a car, how to race properly and set yourself up for a career for motorsport.
What is the club’s biggest focus?
The club’s biggest focus is getting drivers on the track, whether it’s through historic, state or national racing. We want to get back to the days where everyone gets their cars out of the shed and just races.
That being said, we have found our spot in the sport. It’s as a development category for the younger driver and for the enthusiast and I think people realise that it’s one of the places where you can enhance your skills as a driver.
What makes the club unique?
Our club is very unique because we represent Australia and we also represent all Formula Ford cars, Historic, State and our National competition. Being a nation-wide association means we have a committee that represents every state. There are two people from each state on the committee, which means every state in the country gets a say in important matters. Each state will have its own meeting and then the representatives come to a national meeting with feedback.
Not only is having the committee great for involving every state, but it also means we have people with all kinds of experience and decisions are made rationally with exceptional knowledge.
You mentioned before that there aren’t many changes made to the regulations. Have you made any recently?
We recently changed to Yokohama tyres and these tyres are really good. They have durability, great wear and very little drop off, if any. They are great in the wet and I think they are the perfect tyres. They might be a bit heavy, but they are making it affordable for our members to race. Anyone can race on them and they have great grip. Therefore people are more comfortable racing and as a result, we are having less prangs. You can get a few years out of them too. So it’s been a change for the better. We have also implanted electronic start up for the cars, which we hope will help. The FFA also undertook a comprehensive tyre test for Historic cars and in an effort to reduce costs have been using the Hard Avon tyre which has a great wear rate.
What are some of the big events the club has run in the past?
We have really concentrated on cost conservation as of late and instead of doing all Supercars rounds in our National Competition, we got off the big cards to make it more accessible to people and reduce the expensive travel and accommodation.
So now we have just one Supercars round and more local competitions, which sees us getting around 22 to 25 cars on the grid each round.
We also have a healthy state level competition with every state having their own series. and by in large, they are very successful which provides great development and competition for drivers.
The Historic competition continues to have strong fields and particularly in Victoria where over subscription is a regular issue at events.
As for particular events, we are lucky enough to get to Bathurst occasionally where we always get around 50 competitors. The last time we were there was the 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour and our competitors just loved it. That’s one of the events that acts purely as a way to give something back to our members.
What are the benefits in affiliating with Motorsport Australia?
It’s good to be a part of Motorsport Australia as it’s a controlling body that allows us to operate under a set of technical rules, which stabilises our involvement in the sport as a category as a whole, as well as competition rules for the competitor.