The Australian Formula Ford Series currently competes with a traditional modern Formula Ford specification, comprising of space frame cars powered by a Ford Duratec motor.
However Motorsport Australia has for some time now been looking at further modernizing the category and was even contemplating turning it into a one-make series this time last year.
The governing body’s Formula Ford Technical Working Group has since opted against the one-make path and will instead move to a new-look multi-manufacturer class.
The cars will continue to be a space frame chassis but will feature beefed up safety structures including a halo, front and rear crash structures, side impact crash structures, an extractable seat, driver headrest and wheel tethers.
The cars are expected to cost between $110,000 and $130,000 and are expected to be around one second per lap faster than the existing cars.
They will debut in the 2024 Formula Ford National Championship, with the current cars to remain eligible until at least 2027.
The new cars will not be eligible to compete in state-level Formula Ford until some time in the future.
“We are announcing this new car now so we can give certainty to the market as well as helping the next generation of racers consider their careers and development opportunities in the years ahead,” said Motorsport Australia’s Director of Motorsport & Commercial Operations Michael Smith.
“Likewise, we want current car owners to know they have a place to race their cars and that they’ll be eligible to compete at a national level, alongside the new car.
“The Formula Ford Working Group is also adamant that the introduction of this new car must be done in an appropriate manner with regard to the current Formula Ford Series.
“Based on our ongoing discussions, Formula Ford still has the support of the industry and is seen as a suitable pathway for many young drivers and bringing in a new car allows the category to continue to be a relevant pathway for those up-and-coming drivers.”
The move was welcomed by Formula Ford Association spokesman Phil Marrinon.
“The Formula Ford Association welcomes this initiative and is proud to be a part of ensuring Formula Ford continues to be the main development pathway for circuit racing in Australia,” Marrinon said.
“Safety and cost control has always been the guiding principles of our Formula Ford rulebook. With the advanced safety features becoming more affordable the time is right to introduce them into our regulations.
“We are one of the few Formula car categories that encourage diverse manufacturer involvement, and our local constructors will be some of the first in the world to build tube frame chassis with these advanced safety features.
“We look forward to working with Motorsport Australia to continue to foster not only Australia’s next generation of driving talent, but helping train Australia’s upcoming motorsport engineers and mechanics, just as we have done for 50 years.”
Formula Ford has continued to thrive in Australia in recent years despite a concerted effort from Motorsport Australia to phase it out.
That was part of its ill-fated, self-promoted Australian Formula 4 plan which proved unpopular and was abandoned after only a handful of seasons.
This working group was established as part of a thawing of relations between Formula Ford officials and Motorsport Australia, which has also included FF being added to the list of categories eligible for Supercars Superlicence points after its initial exclusion from the system.