Today I went on my special 50-th birthday present that Ros treated me to. I spent the day at Castle Combe race circuit, learning to race a Formula Ford like the white and green one below. For the instruction sessions I drove a Ford Focus, with expert Formula Ford racer Alan Slater beside me. The Focus was completely standard, just as you'd drive out of the showroom, and managed the corners surprisingly well for an "ordinary car" (Ford hit lucky here, and spent lots of money of course!)
Formula Fords are entry-level racing cars. They have been the breeding ground for many great drivers: Ayrton Senna, Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt and Jody Scheckter to name just a few.
The idea of Formula Ford started in 1966 when Geoffrey Clarke, M.D of the Motor Racing Stables racing school, was fed up with students blowing up expensive Formula 3 engines and fitted 1500cc Ford Cortina GT engines into the cars instead. This ancient design of engine is still in use today, though from 1994 you also have the option of a Zetec 1800 engine (just like the one in granny's Ford Focus!)
In spite of the puny low-tech engine, its light weight and low-slung cornering ability mean that a Formula Ford can easily beat supercars such as the mighty 550 horse-power Ford GT, as demonstrated by Tiff Needell in this You-Tube clip:
For a petrol-head such as myself, its was the best birthday present ever, thanks Ros!