How Much Does It Cost To Race In Formula Ford?

For many years, Formula Ford has been considered the next logical step out of karting. If you want to take your motorsport career to the next level, this is the perfect place to learn, but how much does Formula Ford cost?

The cost to race in Formula Ford well exceeds that of karting, potentially reaching $100,000 or so for a season. All Formula ford series have different costs based on the reputation and prestige of the series. Formula Ford UK has the best reputation, and a season will cost you around $80,000.

Every element of Formula Ford racing is more expensive than karting. You will need to upgrade your gear, and pay for the car, insurance, tires and fuel. On top of that, race fees and championship entries become a bit pricier as well. Below, I take a closer look at all of these factors.

Note: Formula Ford has largely been succeeded by the FIA’s Formula 4 series, so while it’s still an exciting and comparatively affordable racing series for junior drivers, it’s not quite as prominent as it used to be.

How Much Does A Formula Ford Race Car Cost?

Formula Ford cars have been revered as the best grassroots racing cars for many years. Many F1 drivers spent time in the Formula Ford series, including the likes of Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Räikkönen, but the series has somewhat lost its status as a big scouting point for Formula 1 teams. However, the cars are still some of the first junior drivers get a shot of out of karting.

The cars field different chassis in the same races in order to keep the costs as low as possible. Unlike most modern race cars, you won’t find as much carbon fibre on these cars, as they are mostly built from steel. The only exception to this is the survival cell, which keeps the driver safe inside the car. The car also features a sequential gearbox and can be either a paddle shift or stick shift depending on the age of the car.

These cars come with quite a price tag when they are new, and they can be up to $20,000 each. However, if you look around at second hand offers you will usually be able to get a better price for them. They can be anywhere between $3,000 and $15,000 depending on the manufacturer, model, and the condition of the car itself.

Buying A Formula Ford Car

If you are going to buy a car, it’s important to remember that it’s not a go-kart. The mechanics of the car are completely different. Even if you have experience working on your kart by yourself, the Formula Ford car is at a whole new level when it comes to the mechanics of it. This is why you will most likely need to hire a mechanic to help you out or at least to teach you how everything on the car works.

Renting A Formula Ford Car

The other option, which is most common, is to hire a car from a team. This tends to be the more popular option. The team will give you a rate, which can either be per race or for the entire season.

The advantage here is that rental of a Formula Ford car will most likely include your own mechanic as well. Which is great because the mechanic who will work on your car has experience in Formula Ford and knows the car really well. They could also give you some advice on setups based on their past experience with other drivers.

The price tag for renting a Formula Ford car varies a lot from team to team. So, it’s always a good idea to get in touch with a bunch of different teams and ask them how much it will cost to rent one of their cars, and keep your options open.

How Much Does The Safety Gear Cost To Race In Formula Fort?

If you started your career going for karting-specific racing gear, such as a kart-specific helmet and race suit, you will have to upgrade this for Formula Ford. That’s because there is a difference between the protection level needed in karting compared to Formula Ford. The speed difference between the two means that you need better safety gear in Formula Ford.

The gear becomes more expensive too. For example, a karting helmet might have cost you $450, but if you want to make the switch up to cars you will need a stronger helmet, which will cost you around $750 or more.

The same goes for your race suit, boots and gloves. All of these will have to be upgraded to FIA spec gear rather than CIK spec, which is for karting. This could end up costing you around $1,000 in total depending on where you are shopping and if you are buying second hand.

Don’t Cut Corners

When it comes to safety gear, it’s better to not try and save money. These items might be pretty expensive, but they are there to keep you safe, and spending a couple of hundred dollars extra might just end up saving your life.

In addition to your safety gear, you might want to get some team merchandise made for you and your team. Perhaps you want to showcase some of your sponsors, or you might have a following who are willing to buy some merchandise. This can cost you a little bit extra as well, but the prices on this can vary depending on where you are.

Extra Costs Involved In Formula Ford

Travel & Accommodation

Most Formula Ford series are traveling championships. This means that every round of the season is held at a different racetrack. This might sound exciting and all, but you need to think about the transportation and the storage of the car when you are traveling.

This is another reason hiring a car is the more attractive option. Transport and storage are the race team’s problem. You just have to show up on the day and drive your car. Many teams will already include this in their pricing when you ask about hiring the car.

However, you still need to consider the fact that you need to pay for your own travel and accommodation to those races. These of course also vary on how far you need to travel and where you can find accommodation. It’s always best to stick close to your team though, as they will know which places have the best accommodation close to the racetracks.

Damage & Repair

Formula Ford also features a lot of close wheel to wheel racing. You’ll likely damage the car at some point. You will need to take into account that any damage on the car will need to be repaired. This can be something as small as replacing a front wing, or even replacing a suspension element after a heavy impact.

The cars also go through quite a lot of wear and tear as they are being driven on the limit most of the time. This means that big elements like engines and gearboxes might need to be overhauled or even replaced, which can be a pretty big expense. On top of that, you will most likely need a mechanic to help you replace those, so if you are not part of a team you will need to hire one.

Damage Deposits

Most racing teams take a damage insurance fee when you sign up with them. This is more of a deposit in most cases, so if there is no damage done to the car you will get your money back. However, damage on these cars is inevitable at some point, so don’t bet on getting all of your insurance deposit back!

Brake Pads

Brake pads are one of the most wear-prone parts of these cars. A Formula Ford car will typically work through two sets of brake pads in a season. If you hard particularly hard on the brakes, you might need an extra set as well. Brake pads vary in price in different areas, but expect to pay around $700 for two sets.

Entry Fees

Depending on the series you are racing in and the reputation it has, entry fees can actually cost you quite a bit of money as well. Normally the entry fees for a whole season of racing add up to around $2,000, but it can be a lot more or a little less.

KEY POINTS

• Formula Ford is much more expensive than karting

• It can cost about $100,000 for a season in some regions

• There are also other costs to consider, from damage repairs to travel and accommodation

Breakdown Of Costs For Formula Ford

ExpenseCost
Mechanic Fee$7,500
Crash Damage & Wear$5,000
Testing Tires x 4 sets$2,500
Tires x5 sets$3,200
Transport & Accommodation$2,400
Engine Hire$2,300
Entry Fees$2,000
Fuel & Lubricants$1,500
Engine Deposit$1,200
Team Clothing & Painting Car Livery$1,000
Brake Pads$700
License Fee$205
Membership Fee$120
Total$28,125

This breakdown is based on a Formula Ford series that is not well known globally and works out to be much cheaper than most series. But it will give you an idea of what you will need to pay for. These costs will all vary from team to team as well as between different Formula Ford series.

As you can see, there are some big costs involved in just a single season of Formula Ford racing. If you are looking at a prestigious and well-known series the costs will go even higher. For example, if you are looking to race in the Formula Ford UK series, you can expect the budget to be around $110,000.

Of course, if you are aiming for a series in that caliber, there are more benefits to it. There will be more scouts keeping an eye out for up and coming talents, there are a lot of spectators at each race weekend, and you will get a lot more exposure. In addition, you will likely be in the support race for a much bigger racing series. All of these factors add to the value, and therefore the cost of the racing series.

Getting Sponsorship For Formula Ford

It’s fair to say that unless you have an extremely wealthy family you will need sponsors if you want to race in Formula Ford. Luckily, Formula Ford offers a lot more value to sponsors than karting does. So, in theory it should be more achievable to get sponsors for a Formula Ford season.

Formula Ford allows you to offer a lot more benefits to potential sponsors, so there is also a lot more value you can get out of a sponsorship deal. Teams will often be happy to let sponsors use the Formula Ford car for various photoshoots, videos or events.

Race cars are typically good at grabbing people’s attention! It’s a good-looking car, and simply showcasing it in front of a sponsor’s shop can attract a lot of people and give your sponsors a lot of potential new clients.

Providing More Value

Formula Ford races also tend to be really popular with motorsport fans, which means they get a lot of spectators at racetracks. If your sponsor can host an event at the racetrack, they can build up a whole new client base simply by grabbing the attention of motorsport fans.

When you start reaching the level of Formula Ford, sponsorship becomes almost essential. This might just be the first step out of karting, but it already becomes extremely expensive to participate in. It’s a huge step up from karting in terms of costs, so make sure you are prepared for that.

Factors To Consider When Budgeting For Formula Ford

Ensure You Can Afford The Full Season

Always make sure you have the budget for the entire season. The last thing you want is to lose out on half of the season because you ran out of money and you can’t pay your race team anymore. Formula Ford is a brutal racing series. The teams don’t really care how talented of a driver you are.

You could be leading the championship with just 2 races to go, but if you can’t pay the team, you won’t race. These teams are all run like businesses, and no money means no racing.

If you are slightly short of the required budget to race for a season, look for a cheaper series or stay in karting for another year. It’s better to race in a smaller championship than to not race at all. As difficult as it may be, it’s the right choice to make. Spend that extra year winning another championship and finding more sponsors who can support you in the bigger series.

Budget For Extra Damage

Crash damage and wear costs are not limited. You might be asked to pay a $2,000 deposit, but if the costs needed to repair the car exceed that limit, you still have to pay for it. I have heard countless stories of drivers who have had to stop racing all because they had to pay off crash damage from a previous racing series.

Make sure you can afford it. It’s not worth the risk thinking that you just won’t crash. It could be a situation where you are not at fault. For example, if another driver misjudges a braking point, drives straight into the back of you and completely wrecks the engine and the gearbox, you still need to pay for it.

Travel Costs Are Volatile

Travel and accommodation costs vary all the time. Costs of flights fluctuate, as do the prices in hotels and other accommodation options. Make sure you do your research on them thoroughly and book well in advance to avoid price changes.

Branding Costs

If you want your own custom livery to match your helmet, race suit and teamwear, the team will most likely charge you at their own rate for painting the car. This will also include repainting it if there is any damage or scratches on the car.

If you are just moving up from karting, it’s important to check that your safety gear is up to the FIA standard for the Formula Ford series you are looking to enter. If it isn’t, you will need to budget for the upgrades and keep in mind that you will need extra gear like a HANS device, which is a requirement for any car racing series.

Tools, Transport & Storage Costs

Finally, if you do go the route of buying your own car, remember that you will also need to buy your own tools as well. You are going to need a few extra tools that you would not have used in karting, and these can cost quite a few bucks. You will also need a trailer to transport your car to the different races (unfortunately Formula Ford cars aren’t road legal). Make sure you find a secure storage unit close to the circuit to keep your car in for the race weekend.

Final Thoughts

Formula Ford is a fantastic series with lots of close racing. However, it all comes at a cost. You will be looking at costs between $30,000 and $110,000 for a season, depending on your region and the specific series. There are lots of costs to consider in Formula Ford, and it’s not just the car that’s expensive!

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