Opinions expressed are those of our correspondents, and are not necessarily those of MOTOR SPORT.
FF1600 — A Professional View
I read with great interest your article in October’s edition of MOTOR SPORT regarding the critical situation with respect to the future of Formula Ford.
It is refreshing to see that one of the most established motor racing journals has realised the significance and importance of our most junior “pro” Formula. Something which I feel has been missed by many parties, for far too long.
I shall not dwell on each of the many points in your article, just to say that in many areas the Formula has progressed far quicker than certain organizing bodies realize.
Part I. Formula Ford 1600 is a world-wide industry, to which many owe their livelihoods. Part 2. It has the double role of being the backbone of many club meetings and the undoubted proving
ground for future Fl champions. (On this point, I take issue with M.L. I know we have not yet had an ex-FF1600 champion win a GP, but keep watching that space, for Messrs Senna, Warwick, Mansell, Palmer, Cheever, etc,
wish to break the “duck!”) FF1600’s dual purpose of providing relatively low cost motor racing for the man (or woman) “in the street”, as well as experience for the aspiring professional, creates its own problems. FF races have always had a mixture of the two types of drivers. However, over the years, there has been a gradual parting of the ways between these two groups. FF2000 was intended to cream off the season’s aces, but, for one reason or another, this has not happened. Indeed, many drivers who have fallen foul of higher formulae have returned to FF1600, in order to rejuvenate their flagging careers. This, combined with escalating costs of equipment, travel and the well known recession, has reduced the grids, which in turn reduces the excitement and spectacle that is synonymous with FF1600.
Over the last few seasons, this separation has been increasingly evident and this is a situation which, I feel, must not be allowed to continue unchecked. What is to be done? Not an easy question to answer. Firstly, the organizing bodies must realise the situation they have before them, and act positively and quickly after consulting the people it will most affect, ie the industry, sponsors, clubs, tyre manufacturers and — not least — the
competitors. This may appear to be a contradiction in terms, for how can you assess the opinions of so many groups positively and quickly? In my opinion, the Ford-based Formula 1600, 2000 and Sports 2000 is strong enough and important enough to have an organisation that looks after its own well-being now, and also, plans for the future. Whenever organisations or associations are mentioned, people raise their eyebrows in disgust — “yet more bureaucracy” they cry. No-one needs that, and I’m sure that everyone has some idea of the structure needed for such an organisation. I believe it requires a central figure (president, chairman or whatever), who has the experience and knowledge (technical and commercial) to oversee and control the Formulae.
His brief would be to ensure the well-being of the various categories under his control, to liaise with those who make the rules and indeed, those who are regulated by them. Such an individual has to be engaged and supported, for at least a three year duration, with his salary etc being paid for by the industry. 1 would consider this a worthwhile investment in order to ensure healthy grids and stabilisation for the foreseeable future. Indeed the Ford Motor Company might like to appoint someone themselves, after all, it is Formula Ford and a healthy environment can only be good for this Company, who have been a pillar in motor racing history.
I believe that there are moves to reduce the Championships for 1985, good! However, let us not stop there. We must progress with FF1600 so that it not only maintains its prestige, but ultimately becomes the Junior Formula.
To control costs nowadays is difficult. due to the heavy testing schedules taken on by the so-called “pro” drivers. It would be very difficult to control, far less stop, this. However, if we are to have one major National Championship which (provided the prize fund is good enough) will attract the “Glory Boys”, and several regional Championships, this should keep the testing costs to the people who can afford them, whilst the regional guys will be happy to compete when the National Championship visits their particular circuit. This would have the effect of neutralising the advantage of costly testing by being on their “home ground”. Tyres are another major expense. This year in particular has brought to the fore the problems of tyres, with people who can afford it, sorting and grading tyres for best
performance. Meanwhile, the poor clubbie fellow spends his hard earned pounds on one, maybe two sets a year and is lumbered if his are not a “good set”.
Engines? This year we have witnessed the disgraceful situation of a company selling blatantly illegal engines to customers who have paid their money in good faith. If an organisation was in operation (like ABTA is to the travel world) strong action could be taken against the company, not individual drivers. Cost? Would it not be possible, on a strictly controlled basis, for Ford Motor Company to “give” one basic Ford engine to each licence holder, for the sole purpose of racing in FF 1600? Obviously, the individual must prove good intent to use it for this purpose only. Therefore, engine tuners could survive happily, the overall cost would be reduced, including the used engine sales and “pre” formulae etc would also benefit.
The car constructors could also greatly assist in cost control in numerous areas. I’m sore, given the long term security of the successful continuation of the Formula, they would realise the benefits of keeping costs in check.
For the good of the sport and the industry, action must be taken now and I, for one, would be more than happy to see Ford and the RACMSA taking a positive and fresh approach in the aforementioned areas. This would remove the need for another organising body. Chatham GRAHAM FULLER Minister Racing Engines
After reading your absorbing “Archie Butterworth” article in the Nov issue, in particular the postscript, I suddenly remembered a photo which I took at Silverstone many years back of a Kieft 2-litre. I’ve never heard anything of the car since or before for that matter! I think the expressions on the faces of the mechanics speak for themselves! If I remember rightly it only did a few practice laps and was put away. I’ve checked on the programme which I still have but can find no mention of it. While I was actually competing in the monoposto class of single-seater cars in the early sixties, I remember one of the Aston Butterworth cars entered in the race at Oulton Park with a 1,172 cc Ford 100E engine fitted. I cannot remember the driver’s name but I never saw it again. 1 think I saw it spin off (in my mirror) at Lodge corner on the first lap.
I’m sorry I cannot be more precise in my information but hope the photo helps. I’ve been reading MOTOR SPORT since before the war. Keep up the good work. Llandudno G. A. BODLEY [The car is the original Kieft 500 cc F3 car built in 1949. The photograph must have been taken in 195213 for the AJB engine is still in its Steyr-headed form. See the article on Kieft elsewhere in this issue. — M.L.J
Your story on Archie Butterworth and his cars reminded me of conversations with Bill Milliken of Buffalo, New York, with respect to the “Butterball”. My recollection is that this name derived from the original designer of the vehicle and the fact that it was rolled up into a ball when Bill acquired it. Bill Milliken subsequently made many alterations to the car, including the fitment of a new chassis frame. A photograph, one of my favourites, shows Bill at the wheel of the “Butterball” climbing Mount Equinox in New England in 1956. On the bonnet above the engine Bill fitted a tachometer and also a barber pole indicator to remind him which gear in the transmission was engaged. Trusting this will be of interest. London WI K. E. LUOVIGSEN Ludvigsen Associates