He has become almost as integral a part of Formula Ford racing as the Kent engine. Stuart Kestenbaum, 68, made his debut in the category during the summer of 1983 and has been present almost ever since.
“After winning the Star of Mallory FF1600 title in 1988, I stepped away for a couple of years to do Sports 2000,” he says. “I was second in the championship in 1989, but a different tyre was introduced in 1990, I lost my way a bit and decided to return to what I knew.
“That short spell apart, I’ve been in Formula Ford since I started. I’ve missed bits of seasons – usually through hurting myself – and my wife almost persuaded me to stop racing circa 1986, but it was only an ‘almost’.
“I’ve loved FF1600 from day one. It’s fantastically good fun and the driver can make a difference – it’s pure formula racing and the cars are precision instruments. Even the old ones were state of the art in their day and they’re completely adjustable – in a different way, perhaps, but it amounts to the same thing.”
Of late he has been campaigning a Crosslé 16F, a 1969 design with which he hopes to take a crack at the HSCC Historic Formula Ford Championship – though he will continue to race it against more modern machinery when opportunity permits.
“I’ve always loved putting an old car higher up the grid than it should be,” he says. “If you lose, so what? It’s only to be expected – it gets rid of any need for excuses. And if you do well, people tend to notice.”