The Australian Formula Ford championship will be cease to exist after its 43rd edition finishes.
Formed in 1970, the Australian Formula Ford championship has helped cultivate the likes of F1 driver Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo, but is being discontinued as the organisers said that it was become financially unviable.
A couple of years after the Formula Ford category was established in Britain, in 1970, one was established in Australia as well, after being sanctioned by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sports (CAMS) and has functioned as a national motor racing title for the drivers of the Formula Ford Racing cars.
It was initially called as the 'Driver-to-Europe' series until it was upgraded to Australian Championship status in 1993. Since then, it has officially been known as the Australian Formula Ford Championship and has become renowned for producing future champions in both Formula One and V8 Supercar series.
At the outset, it was a breeding ground for Australian car manufactures with designs from Elfin Sports Cars, Mawer and Birrana dominating the series.
But in the late 80’s, the streak was broken by British marque Van Diemen and then subsequently there have plenty of others joining in on the party.
Originally, it was dominated by local self-run teams, but for the past two decades, it has been dominated by professional racing teams such as Sonic Motor Racing Services, Brad Jones Racing, Team BRM as well as specialist Formula Ford outfits Synergy Motorsport, Minda Motorsport and Borland Racing Developments.
And the series has also moved on from first-generation Kent engines to the third-generation Mazda-sourced Ford Duratec engine in 2006.
The success of the national championship, has also led to the formation of state run championships in five Australian states: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, which continue to utilize the first-generation Kent engine.
The series has always been seen as a stepping stone for Australian racing drivers to move on to bigger and better things in Australia and overseas.
1971 winner Larry Perkins, Webber and Ricciardo have all gone on to race in the Formula One World Championship, whilst other winners Russell Ingall, Craig Lowndes, Garth Tander and Jamie Whincup have each gone on to claim V8 Supercar titles.
Whilst Webber raced in the series for two years in the mid-1990s, his fourth place finish in his second year enabled him to secure the sponsorship, which resulted in his move to Europe and his subsequent participation in Formula One.
Daniel Ricciardo, the Toro Rosso driver who hopes to take over from Webber at Red Bull, made his senior racing debut in the Western Australian State Formula Ford Championships in 2005.
After losing funding from their main sponsor Ford last year, chief executive Eugene Arocca said in a statement: "We simply cannot justify the time and money it will take to continue beyond 2013.
"It is expensive for everyone competing in the national competition and we feel there is a better, more affordable, more sustainable way of showcasing Formula Ford racing nationally."
The only silver lining from this bit of devastating news for motor sports fans, is the fact that the State Formula Ford Championships will continue to exist. And one would hope that, that bodes well for the future of Australian racing.
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