Stars come out to play in Formula Ford

Traditional autumn Formula Ford races bring tightly contested action and chaotic scenes to Brands Hatch and Silverstone

2021 Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch copy

It was a typically large and competitive field at the 50th Formula Ford Festival

The appeal of the traditional end-of-season Formula Ford 1600 contests showed no signs of slowing down this year, with both the Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy events providing knock-out thrills and packed grids apiece.

This year’s Festival at Brands Hatch boasted a star-studded field, with former winners Roberto Moreno (1980) and Jan Magnussen (1992) returning to their roots and joining an entry that also boasted British GT champion Dennis Lind (himself a winner in 2010), McLaren chief test driver Chris Goodwin and BTCC team boss Shaun Hollamby among the formula regulars.

Danish ace Lind fared the best of the celebrity interlopers, finishing ninth in the final, with countryman Magnussen an impressive 11th on his comeback.

Jan Magnussen in Cockpit at 2021 Formula Ford Festival copy

Jan Magnussen was a star returnee at Brands Hatch

After a chaotic start to the final with a multiple-car tangle heading up to Druids, Jamie Sharp emerged as the winner of the 50th Festival aboard his Medina Sport JL17, beating Team USA star Max Esterson by just 0.138sec at the flag. The racing was so tense that even Jenson Button (1998 winner) took notice, tweeting that he could be on the hunt for a drive next year.

Just a week later the Walter Hayes Trophy took centre stage at Silverstone’s National Circuit, and enjoyed its own smattering of names within its near-100-strong entry with sports car ace Warren Hughes and ex-BTCC man Kelvin Burt also joining the fray.

Max Esterson celebrates winning the 2021 Walter Hayes Trophy

American driver Max Esterson took top spot at the 2021 Walter Hayes Trophy.

This time Esterson made no mistake, guiding his Low Dempsey Racing-run Ray GR18 to victory in the final, finishing just 0.249sec ahead of 2020 winner Oliver White.

In doing so, Esterson becomes the fourth Team USA driver to win the Walter Hayes, following in the tracks of Conor Daly (2008 and now racing in IndyCar), Connor De Phillippi (2009, now in IMSA) and Tristan Nunez (2012 and went on to be a factory Mazda driver in IMSA).