Introduced in the early 1960s the Formula Ford 1600 class has been one of the most successful classes in the history of the sport. These cars are still racing today but with thousands of chassis produced only a few models are favoured in the hothouse of the various Formula Ford 1600 regional championships. There are many good Formula Ford 1600 cars gathering dust and thus available for little money. For several decades Formula Ford chassis have been raced in the MRC.
The current Mono 1600 class has its origins in the old "Mono Kent" class, long the backbone of the club. This class used either Formula Ford engines or Formula Ford engines with a special cam. Today, Formula Fords are still the backbone of the class but while engines remain strictly controlled and therefore cheap and readily available, modifications to the chassis are permitted, such as wings, tyres from other formulae and different size wheels. Nonetheless, the class was dominated in 2005 and 2006 by a virtually standard Formula Ford using a Monoposto camshaft in the engine.
If an owner desires the low maintenance conferred by a more modern engine, other eligible vehicles include Formula Vauxhall Junior 8valve and Formula Renault 1700. Performance is equalised by weight limits which include the driver. Again, engines are strictly controlled in accordance with the rules when these cars ran as manufacturer supported categories. All but the Renault have the advantage of running "proper" racing gearboxes, almost invariably Hewlands. For anybody unfamiliar with racing gearboxes, the change is a delight and helps makes the cars very easy to drive. Slightly more unusual choices are available, including homebuilt cars with a wide choice of engines, Formula First and the ERA single seaters. In fairness, the last 2 could be fun but are unlikely to be competitive.
The 1600 class but it is very much the home of the driver/preparer/engineer/sponsor being the same person. The cars are sufficiently simple that they can be run by one person with little mechanical knowledge, ideally with a helper on race day. However, the class is friendly enough that there is usually somebody from another team who will plug and unplug a slave battery. The friendliness is also apparent when there is a more serious problem - for example at one memorable meeting a driver was rebuilding his braking system with the aid of no less than 2 drivers and 3 mechanics from other teams, finishing just as the class received its final call for practice.
Costs can be kept low - the going price for a Vauxhall Junior 8v is £3-4000, Formula Fords from about the same to as much as you want to spend. Formula Ford tyres are available for "bargain prices" second hand from professional teams, with new ones around £430 a set. Most Monoposto cars use FF1800 slicks and wets rather than the control ACB10s used in the FF1600 championships. A free tyre choice can transform the handling of some chassis. Reliability is good and with very simple engines, rebuild costs are low, and only required every 3 years or so.
Our drivers are committed and the racing is close throughout the field. Accordingly it is fun wherever you are on the grid. However, as most of us are over 30 (by a long way) the approach is mature and gentlemanly - contact is most definitely a "no-go".
The 1600's are the lowest powered cars in the club, but as thoroughbred single seaters they are by no means slow. There are few road cars below £60,000 that can keep up with a Mono 1600, and indeed most racing saloons struggle to equal our lap times