Wiltshire College Motorsport and Castle Combe Racing Club have announced a competition to discover a promising driver for a 2019 Castle Combe Formula Ford championship seat.
Wiltshire College Motorsport has been racing in the Combe championship since 2006 and has had title success as well as focussed on developing young engineers and drivers.
Now it has teamed up with Castle Combe Racing Club to give drivers aged under 25 a chance to compete for a scholarship with a drive in the whole of next year’s Combe season in a Spectrum. The scholarship will also provide support with set up, mentoring and media training.
“I’ve been in motorsport far too long and I never wanted to see talent being stifled by lack of finance,” said Haydn Earl of Wiltshire College Motorsport.
“That’s where this idea came from to in effect take finance out of the equation and being able to develop real talent into Formula Ford and go back to where it was intended which is a stepping stone to moving forward.
“This is very much about a package, they get support from the circuit for testing, they get support from the racing club for entries, and we’re providing a competitive car with a competitive engine but also the support for the driver.
“Our lead driver Dave Vivian is an ex student and he is very willing to mentor a young driver coming into the car.”
Earl felt that access to competitive Formula Ford drives has become more difficult in recent years.
“The days of the guy turning up with his open trailer on the back of his car and rolling his Formula Ford off and going out and actually being competitive are unfortunately limited,” he said.
“We’ve got two or three here [at the college] that are quite competitive kart racers that aspire to Formula Fords but really it’s a technology and financial leap that they’re not able to make.
“So it [the scholarship] is very much about trying in some respects to demystify Formula Ford, and in recent years I think it has become a little bit mystical.”
Earl added that access to competitive drives in the Castle Combe championship has been particularly difficult.
“There’s been a bit of a drop off in grids,” he noted – indeed there were 11 entries in the recent ‘18 season-opener.
“I think part of that has been that sort of technology gap and the fact that there are two or three front-running teams that mop the championship up, and to be able to afford to race with them is quite difficult.”
The college and the club are confident that the Combe Formula Ford championship will still be going strong next year, and that this scholarship will help sustain the series.
“[We] keep working on it all the time and all this is good publicity for us,” said Jo Lewkowicz of Castle Combe Racing Club, “any publicity is good publicity hopefully, so fingers crossed it’ll be good and going strong again next year.”
The winner of the scholarship will be decided during the ’18 season by a panel of judges chaired by Motorsport News journalist Stefan Mackley and joined by experienced motorsport commentator Chris Dawes and Shaun Brits from Wiltshire College.
“The criteria are not just about results,” added Earl, “it’s not just about driving experience or driving talent. It’s more of a package deal, it’s that they are willing to communicate, they are willing to go that kind of extra miles to win the scholarship.
“The onus is on them between now and the end of the season to keep the scholarship coordinator up to date with their progress, because we want them to take some sort of ownership of their progression, not just have to sit back and let somebody else do it.”
The scholarship winner will be announced at the club’s awards evening in November. And there has already been a lot of interest. “It’s looking all very positive at the moment,” Lewkowicz added, “I’ve had lots of emails asking for entry forms, so it should be good.”
More detail on the scheme is to follow in the next fortnight. Other details including how to apply can be found here.