The first Formula Ford Festival was held at Snetterton Circuit in England in 1973. Two ambitious young Americans, Danny Sullivan and David Loring, were among the field, anxious to prove their worth against some stiff competition. Sullivan went on to compete in Formula One and win the Indianapolis 500. Loring, who sadly died last month, also enjoyed a long career earning success in a variety of categories. Many other top-line drivers from around the world have used the Festival as a launch pad for their careers, including current Formula 1 stars Jenson Button and Mark Webber.
This weekend, hosted by the British Racing & Sports Car Club, the 40th annual Formula Ford Festival will take place on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit, and another pair of U.S. rising talents, Jack Mitchell Jr. and Tristan Nunez, will be among the starting lineup, carrying the patriotic red, white and blue colors of the Team USA Scholarship.
The two teenagers were on hand to watch fellow 2012 Team USA Scholarship winner Matthew Brabham turn some heads during last weekend's opening rounds of the Formula Renault BARC Winter Series. Tomorrow they will have their opportunity to shine as the Formula Ford Festival gets under way with qualifying and a pair of heat races that will determine the starting positions for two more rounds of competition on Sunday. They can hardly wait.
“This is such an amazing track,” said Mitchell (ABOVE, right), 16, from Clarendon Hills, Ill., who has been a standout this year both in the Skip Barber Racing Series and the Ontario F1600 Challenge. “It's only a short track (1.2 miles), but there's so much elevation change! It's a really cool place. You're busy the whole time; there's no break.”
Both Mitchell and Nunez, also 16, have been busily testing their Team USA Scholarship/Cliff Dempsey Racing Ray GR08 cars this week – in mainly cool, wet conditions. No official clocks have been running but both Americans have been turning times that suggest they should be running toward the front of the field once the official action gets under way tomorrow morning. The track dried out briefly only once, on Wednesday afternoon, and Mitchell took full advantage to be among the pacesetters. Nunez, unfortunately, had to sit out that session due to a mechanical problem in the previous outing, but he remains unfazed and is confident of a good showing.
“I haven't had that much experience in the rain before this week but I felt really comfortable right away, so that really surprised me,” said Nunez, who dominated this year's Cooper Tires IMSA Prototype Lites Championship Powered by Mazda, winning 11 of the 14 races. “These cars are so predictable when they slide, so it's really easy to handle the car in the rain. I think if it rains tomorrow, we should be in good shape. It might be a little more difficult if it's dry, but the car is a blast to drive and I can't wait to drive it in the dry.”