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 about cars, as well as build your skills against a competitive field of drivers.
However, you need to be prepared for the costs. The price tag of racing in Formula Ford well exceeds that of karting. 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 on average
Every element of Formula ford racing is more expensive than karting. You will need to upgrade your gear, pay for the car, insurance, tires and fuel. On top of that, race fees and championship entries become a bit pricier as well.
How Much Does A Formula Ford Race Car Cost?
Formula Ford cars have been revered as the best grassroots racing cars for many years. The Formula Ford UK series has produces many successful Formula 1 drivers such as Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen and Valterri Bottas and many more.
The cars were updated in 2012 to move to 1.6L EcoBoost engines. They also 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, 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, they can be up to $20,000 each. However, if you look around at second hand offers you will get a better price for them. They can be anywhere between $3000 and $15,000 depending on the made, model and the condition of the car itself.
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 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.
The other option, which is most common, is to hire a car from a team. This is the more popular option for various reasons which we will also discuss at a later point. The team will give you a rate, which can either be per race or rental 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 set ups based on their past experience with 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 whole bunch of different teams and ask them how much it will cost to rent one of their cars.
How Much Does The Safety Gear Cost?
If you started your career going for karting specific racing gear such as the helmet and race suit, you will have to upgrade. The reason for this is that there is a difference between the protection level needed from karting 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.
The same goes for your race suit, gloves and boots. 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 $1000 in total depending on where you are shopping and if you are buying second hand.
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.
Unlike with karting, Formula Ford comes with quite a few extra costs that most people tend to overlook. I’m not talking about fuel and tires, as we have learnt about those costs from karting experience.
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 think about the transportation and the storage of the car when you are traveling. This is another reason why 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.
Most 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.
Formula Ford features a lot of close wheel to wheel racing. Because of this factor damage on the cars are highly likely and very common. 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 on 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.
Most racing teams take on 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. Although damage on these cars are inevitable at some point, so don’t bet on getting all of your insurance deposit back.
Brake pads are one of the most wear prone parts of these cars. Most of the time a Formula Ford car will 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.
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 adds up to around $2000.
Breakdown Of Costs For Formula Ford
Let’s take a closer look at the exact costs you will need to consider for a season in an average Formula Ford series. This is a travelling series which features as a support race and attracts a lot of spectators. These costs are based on joining a team which has a car available for you to use, so it is an arrive and drive set up.
This breakdown is based on one particular Formula Ford series which 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.
|Tires x 5 sets||$3200|
|Testing Tires x 4 sets||$2500|
|Fuel & Lubricants||$1500|
|Transport & Accommodation||$2400|
|Team Clothing & Painting Car Livery||$1000|
|Crash Damage & Wear||$5000|
|Total Cost for Season||$28,125|
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 like Daniel Ricciardo did, you can expect the budget to be around $110,000
Of course, if you are aiming for a series in that calibre there are more benefits to it. There will be more scouts keeping an eye out for up and coming talents, there are a ton of spectators at each race weekend and you will get a lot more exposure. In addition, you will 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.
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 manageable to get sponsors for a Formula Ford season.
Formula Ford allows you to offer a lot more benefits to potential sponsors, so there is a lot more value you can get out of a sponsorship deal. Most, if not all teams will be happy to let sponsors use the Formula Ford car for various photoshoots, videos or events.
Using a race car to attract attention is always a great idea, and a Formula Ford car does really well with that. 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 you sponsors a lot of potential new clients.
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 it comes to 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
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, no money, no racing.
If you are slightly short of the required budget to race for a season, rather 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.
Crash damage and wear costs are not limited. You might be asked to pay a $2000 deposit, but if the costs needed to repair the car exceeds 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 in thinking that you just won’t crash. It could be a situation where you are not at fault, for example where another driver misjudges a braking point, drives straight into the back of you and completely wrecks the engine and the gearbox.
Travel and accommodation costs vary all the time. Costs of flights fluctuate, as do the prices in hotels and Airbnb’s. Make sure you do your research on them thoroughly and book well in advance to avoid price changes.
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 its important to check that your safety gear is up to the FIA standard for the Formula Ford series, you are looking to enter for. 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 racing series that features cars.
If you do go the route of snubbing teams and 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 as well. 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.
Formula Ford is a fantastic racing series. It has extremely close wheel to wheel action and it always draws a big crowd of motorsport fans who are excited to see some great racing. It has also produced many famous racing drivers, which just shows how successful it is as a racing series.
However, it all comes at a cost. You will be looking at costs between $30,000 and $110,000 for a season. These costs all depend on the series you choose to race in and the reputation it has. The costs also vary from team to team, so make sure you get quotes from different teams to find the one that suits your budget best.