12 February 2009| The F2000 Championship as a new series is pretty easy to cover, but the history behind it is quite complex. This particular piece will be one of the most difficult to cover, but hopefully one of the most interesting articles of the Junior Formula 101 series. In order to fully understand the current F2000 Championship series, you need a little background info. I will do my best to provide a brief overview of the history behind F2000 racing in North America, which will in turn lead into a write-up on the current F2000 Championship series.
The Formula Ford ideology was largely put into place by three men: Jim Russell, John Webb, and Geoff Clarke. The original concept behind the Formula Ford was to provide aspiring race drivers an affordable entry level single-seater race car. They accomplished this by putting a 1500cc Ford Cortina GT engine on a price-capped chassis. The 1500cc engine was soon replaced by the 1600cc engine. There is actually a lot more history behind the engine package and chassis, but in an effort to keep things simple, I will leave it at that for now. The car offered drivers a feel, varying from that of a go-kart or a Formula Vee, by incorporating racing suspension. The suspension helped the career-minded race car drivers garner the much needed skill of race car set-up and handling feedback. It also gave the car a “real-car” feel, which was highly regarded. The concept took off, making it one of the most successful race cars in history. Today you will see drivers of all ages racing Formula Fords in numerous countries worldwide.
Eventually a few drivers and engineers started looking for ways to take the Formula Ford to the next level. They succeeded sometime in the 70's, by putting wings and slicks on the Formula Ford chassis accompanied by a larger 2.0L Ford Pinto engine (built by Ford Europe). The new race package was given the name: F2000. And once again, it proved quite popular. In the mid-eighties a Canadian Pro F2000 series, known as the Canadian Tire/Motomaster Championship, was created. Several current big-name drivers developed their craft in the Motomaster Championship, including Paul Tracy. The series eventually became known as Export A under different ownership, which was also a very popular stop for drivers looking to race professionally, producing several top notch competitors, including the likes of Jimmy Vasser and Patrick Carpentier among others (see a full list of famous F2000 drivers from various series below). During this same time frame, specifically in 1986, the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) incorporated the F2000 package into their already existing Formula C class; renaming it Formula Continental. The name still holds today.
In 1991, Dan Andersen(Andersen Racing) and Mike Foschi formed Formula Motorsports, creating the U.S. F2000 National Championship. The U.S. F2000 National Championship was extremely popular, fielding up to 60 cars in the late nineties, running both oval and road course events. In 2001, after overseeing the series for 10 years, Dan and Mike decided to sell Formula Motorsports and the series to Jon Baytos. Baytos was no stranger to the F2000 world as he was the owner of Primus Racing, a Van Diemen (chassis) distributor. He also helped start the Hooters F2000 Series, which operated from 1994-1995. In 2002, Jon introduced the Ford Zetec engine, re-naming the series the Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship. The new series incorporated different gears, spec wings, new 8 and 10 wheels to the package, in an effort to create a “Pro” car. The cars were powered by either the four-cylinder, double-overhead cam, fuel-injected 2.0-liter Ford Zetec engine or the carbureted 2.0-liter Ford Pinto engine. Cars utilizing the Pinto package ran in a separate class called the ACC or the American Continental Challenge. At the time, all cars employed Cooper racing tires. During this transitional period, the series had a lot of top-notch drivers make a routine stop on their way up the ladder, but they also lost several “would-be” pro racers to the club level (where they could run their car within the SCCA Formula Continental rules). The series folded at the end of the 2006 season, despite the fact that the Zetec package was growing. In 2006, after a two year debate, the SCCA decided to allow the Zetec engine to be used in club competition. This development led in part to the creation of the new series: the F2000 Championship.
In 2005, prior to the disappearance of the Cooper Series, Bob Wright and Al Guibord got together to run in the SCCA Runoffs at Mid-Ohio in the Formula Continental Class. The two were avid race drivers and they were both closely following the current state of affairs in the F2000/FC world. The two just happened to be discussing the situation over a beer one night and in the process they came up with numerous ideas on how to improve the series. At the time it was just small talk. The two drivers joked back and forth about starting a F2000 Pro series for 2006. That all changed when Bob made a call to fellow racer Mike Rand, who had/has 30 years experience managing race tracks and series. For those who don’t know, Rand was the manager of Lime Rock Park for many years, and he helped start the Barber-Saab Pro Series for Skip Barber. He also added his experience to Virginia International Raceway by helping to build and develop the track. After receiving the phone call from Bob, Mike was excited by the idea of the new series and seemed to think they could make it work. The trio got together, with the idea of modeling a new Pro series after the Formula Motorsports Series created by Dan Andersen and Mike Foschi, creating the F2000 Championship in January of 2006 with the assistance of Bob Shaeffer of Frisby Tire. Shaeffer, who had been involved with F2000 racing previously, helped bring in Hankook Tire as a series sponsor. After working tirelessly to get the series set-up, they now had a Pro series with the same rules as their club counterparts. Their first year as series administrators was tough,... averaging a measly 15 cars per race. In 2007, they continued on with Hankook Tire as a primary sponsor and managed to schedule a race alongside ChampCar at the Cleveland Grand Prix. They averaged slightly more than 30 entries in their second season. In 2008, the series signed a deal with Hoosier Tires. Showing even more improvement in 2008, they averaged about 35 entries with a season high of 41 at Watkins Glen.
The current F2000 Championship cars are powered by a 2000cc Ford engine which is run on 110 octane racing fuel. The chassis is a flat bottom, tubular, space frame: typically manufactured by Van Diemen, Mygale, Citation or the Piper which has become increasingly popular. The cars put out approximately 150 horsepower. Drivers and teams have a choice of two different engine packages(listed below), which are built to meet the rules set forth by the SCCA FC (Formula C) class. The powerplant utilizes a 4-speed gearbox with interchangeable ratios.
The two engine options for the current F2000 Championship Series are listed below. Although I’ve been told that the Zetecs will have a new map and restrictor for 2009, the Pintos will be allowed to use a new aluminum head. The options from the 2008 championship are listed below...
1) 2000cc Ford NEA, four-cylinder, single overhead cam with crossflow cylinder head using a Weber 32-36 DGV carburetor. (This engine is a variation of the Pinto/Capri power plant.)
2) 2000cc Ford Zetec twin cam 4 valve, electronic fuel injection, w/restrictor plate & Pectel T2 ECU mapped by the series. (This engine is a variation of the Ford Focus ZX3 power plant.)
The overall weight of the car and driver used to vary by engine package (a driver utilizing the Pinto package had to cross the scales with a weight of 1,210 lbs. A driver utilizing the slightly heavier Zetec engine, had to cross the scales with a weight of 1,240 lbs.). In 2009, all cars will have to weigh in at 1,220 lbs. The weights listed above are considered a wet weight, meaning it must be met by the driver/team after qualifying or racing with fuel in the car. The cost of running in the F2000 Championship varies from team to team, but the average driver spends approximately $100,000-$150,000 USD.
Past U.S. F2000 Champions
- 2006- J.R. Hildebrand (Indy Lights)
- 2005- Jay Howard (IndyCar/Indy Lights)
- 2004- Bobby Wilson (Indy Lights)
- 2003- Jonathan Bomarito (Atlantic Championship, Rolex GT)
- 2002- Bryan Sellers (Rolex GT)
- 2001- Jason Lapoint (Raced in Atlantic Championship)
Past F2000 Championship Series Champions
- 2008-Anders Krohn (Star Mazda)
- 2007-Cole Morgan (Star Mazda, Undeclared for 2009)
- 2006-Matt McDonough (F2000 Championship Series)
* Jimmy Vasser was sponsored by LucasFilm during his 1990 campaign.
* Bob Wright(Series Founder) has been racing cars since 1974, he started in sedan/productions cars prior to making the move to Formula Ford and then finally into the F2000 ranks.
* Alan Guibord (Series Founder) won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award at the 2005 FC SCCA Runoffs (advancing 10 positions), he finished 16th after starting 26th.
* Mike Rand (Series Founder) currently races Formula Fords and was a 1972 formula car champion..
* The series currently has two Canadian teams: Brian Graham Racing of Innisfil, Ontario and Audette Racing of Boisbriand, Quebec.
Past F2000 Drivers
- Alex Barron
- Wade Cunningham
- Joey Foster
- Aaron Justus
- Memo Gidley
- Johnny Herbert
- Sam Hornish, Jr.
- Jay Howard
- Eddie Irvine
- Andy Lally
- Buddy Rice
- Ayrton Senna
- Dan Wheldon
- Greg Ray
- Sam Schmidt
- Steve Knapp
- Guy Cosmo
- Scott Maxwell
- Robby McGehee
- Jason Bright
- David Besnard
Article provided by Ryan at Junior Open Wheel Talent Blogspot