The Heritage FF1600 series had a successful debut with 24 cars at Donington Park. And there was a familiar face – or voice – among the drivers in Formula 1 commentator Ben Edwards.
Edwards is far more than a commentator. He had his own budding racing career including winning a Formula First championship, as well as being a mechanic in the halcyon pre-1993 Formula Ford era that the Heritage series – the latest from James Beckett – seeks to celebrate.
So what tempted Edwards to take part at Donington?
“It’s perfect in a way for me because I can’t do many races,” he said. “So I always look around to see what races I can do, whether it’s a National round or whether it’s a SuperSeries round or a Monoposto round.
“And then James came up with this Heritage class which is perfect for me because I’ve got a ’92 Van Diemen so it fits in at the top end.
“I run it with just me and my mate, and I prep the car from home between races so I don’t get a lot of time to do much with it really.”
Edwards agrees that the Heritage era was a special time for Formula Ford. “It was one of the great periods,” he said. “Certainly my period because I got involved as a mechanic on a Formula Ford in ’82, so it’s like the beginning of this group.
“Certainly working in Formula Ford at that time means that it means a lot to me that particular time. And it’s nice now that there are different championships for different ages of Formula Ford, there’s crossover.
“It’s great to see quite a few late ‘80s, early ‘90s cars coming out because it’s hard for them now to find a competitive environment.”
Edwards said in advance that he didn’t know or care how competitive he would be; in the event, he was right at the sharp end.
He missed out on victory in the first race by a scant 0.012s in a thrilling three-way fight with Mike Gardner’s Crossle 30/32F and Connor Murphy in his Mondiale M98s, after pace-setter Oliver White in his Van Diemen RF89 dropped out.
And with Edwards due to start race two from that second place he didn’t get beyond the formation lap as his car stopped at the Old Hairpin.
“I’ve had a good day,” Edwards concluded. “But I was devastated with that second race because I was on the front row, can’t remember the last time I was on the front row in a race! And it just died on me on the formation lap with a broken coil lead.
“But I had a great first race. I was really happy to get that second place and yes I was a bit lucky as Ollie had his problems and but you’ve got to be there and I wasn’t there in the second one.
“It’s been really enjoyable, it was good racing, hard racing, clean, everything I would have hoped for really so I just hope I can do some more of them.”
So when will we see Edwards again in a Heritage meeting? “I think I can do one in August, but it’s going to be hard to do many more than that because of my commitments.
“I think it’s been a real success, a good start to the new championship.”