Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport V8 Supercar driver Tim Blanchard will return to the category in which he started his circuit racing career – Formula Ford – at this weekend’s Winton Festival of Speed.
Like many other current V8 Supercar drivers, Blanchard used the popular open-wheel class as a stepping stone to the upper echelons of the sport, winning the national Formula Ford title in 2007.
This weekend, Blanchard will be in a much older car: the Van Diemen RF88 formerly campaigned by his father, John Blanchard, in the late 1980s and early ‘90s.
“It’s my dad’s Formula Ford which we’ve had since he raced in the 1989 Australian Formula Ford Championship,” Blanchard said.
“We’ve kept it in storage at my grandparents’ place since then and we pulled it out a few years ago when it became eligible for historic racing.”
Despite the intense workload that comes with being a full-time V8 Supercar driver, Blanchard is relishing the opportunity to be involved in not only driving the historic racer, but also preparing it ahead of the race meeting.
“I do some work on it myself, which is probably why we’ve had so many mechanical issues!” Blanchard joked.
“We’ve got John Dean, who does a lot of work on historic Formula Fords, helping us with the more complicated aspects of the car as well.”
Blanchard said the most noticeable difference between the old and new Formula Fords is the engine.
“The car I raced in 2007 had the newer, fuel-injected Duratec engine which was very smooth; the old car has a Kent engine so there’s a lot more vibration, and the old car is also a bit softer, so there’s more body-roll through the corners.
Blanchard believes the historic Formula Ford racing at the Festival of Speed will be close and exciting, with a number of competitive cars and drivers entered.
“Jon Miles normally goes pretty well, Andrew McInnes and David Hardman are fast, and it’s good to see Richard Davison (father of V8 Supercar drivers Will and Alex) having a run as well,” Blanchard said.
“Compared to the V8 Supercars, there’s no data, shift lights or anything like that but it’s a good, relaxing weekend. Instead of getting out of the car after a race and having to analyse everything, you can just talk about how much fun the race was.”
Historic Formula Ford is part of a bumper line-up of historic categories at this weekend’s Winton Festival of Speed, with Group N historic touring cars, Group S historic touring cars and a number of historic prototype and open-wheeler categories also on the program.
Gates at the Winton Festival of Speed open at 7:00am on Saturday, 8 August and Sunday, 9 August.
Admission is $30 for Saturday and $35 for Sunday, with children under 16 free.
For more information on the Winton Festival of Speed, please visit the Victorian Historic Racing Register website.