New-age Trans-Tasman Formula 5000 unveiled
We’ve had a V8 touring car category in Australia for more than 20 years. But it’s been nearly 40 years since we’ve had a ‘big-banger’ V8 openwheeler formula.
That could be about to change, with the announcement of a proposed new big-engined openwheeler category to be known as Formula Thunder 5000.
In simple terms, Formula Thunder 5000 is a new-age version of our premier openwheeler category from the 1970s, the 5-litre stock-block V8 Formula 5000.
The basis of the new Formula Thunder 5000 (FT5000) is a one-make carbon-fibre monocoque chassis powered by a specially developed 5-litre stock-block Ford V8 engine.
FT5000 is the brainchild of former journalist, publisher and more recently historic F5000 driver Chris Lambden.
“This has been quietly evolving for two years,” Lambden said, “ever since I had the opportunity to race a historic F5000 car myself.
“Everywhere we went, the reaction was the same – that is, that this was the best thing ever in Australian motorsport and what a shame there wasn’t something like it now.
“I eventually started to take that on board and decided to see if there was any way a sensibly cost-controlled, modern version of the greatest openwheeler formula in Australia’s motorsport history, outside of F1, might be possible – and that’s what I believe we’ve come up with.
“The FT5000 car will be a seriously challenging, powerful, fast, openwheeler race car to drive ... and the sight and sound of a grid full of them getting off the line should be awesome ...”
Lambden stresses that the over-riding aim has been to keep the costs as low and as controlled as possible. To that end, the car is comprised mostly of ‘control’ components – most of which will be manufactured in Australia and New Zealand. The overall car specification will also be frozen for a minimum of four years.
Crucial to the project’s viability has been the ability to use Swift Engineering’s pre-2012 Japanese Formula Nippon chassis as the basis for the FT5000 car. Along with permission to use the chassis design, Lambden has also acquired Swift’s manufacturing tools and patterns for it.
“That is what, in reality, has allowed the project to proceed,” he said. “The design is fully FIA crash-test compliant, so it’s right up there in terms of safety standards – and it’s a coollooking car.”
The actual construction of the cars will be an almost-entirely home-grown affair.
The chassis will be manufactured in Melbourne ex-McLaren F1 composites engineer Lee Cason. Construction will be overseen by Mike Borland, chief of Borland Racing, the Melbourne-based manufacturer of Spectrum Formula Ford racing cars.