Formula Ford is an entry-level class of single seater, open-wheel formula racing. The various championships held across the world form an important step for many prospective Formula One drivers. Formula Ford has traditionally been regarded as the first major stepping stone into formula racing after karting. The series typically sees professional career minded drivers enter alongside amateurs and enthusiasts. Success in Formula Ford can lead directly to other junior formulae such as a Formula Renault 2.0 or even an F3 seat.
Formula Ford is not a one-make championship. It allows freedom of chassis design, engine build and numerous technical items of specification on the car. This opens the door to many chassis manufacturers, large and small. Many other single-seater formulae impose fixed specifications. Only two other professional single seater racing formulae in the world offer the same freedom of chassis and engine build: Formula Three and Formula One.
A Formula Ford car is one of the more distinctive-looking open-wheel race cars because it does not have wings to create aerodynamic downforce. In order to reduce cost and allow smaller manufacturers to produce their own design of chassis without prohibitive tooling costs, chassis are steel space frame, unlike the monocoques found in other types of single seater racing. The more popular marques as of 2012 were Van Diemen, Mygale and the Australian-built Spectrum, but smaller manufacturers such as Ray and Vector have had some success. Historical designers who have made a mark on the series have included: Titan, Lotus, Merlyn, Hawke, Citation, Swift, Euroswift, Elden, Reynard, Crosslé, Lola, Zink, Bowin, Royale, and Cooper Racing.
Top speeds in the National Class are easily as high as in the other Junior Formulae of BMW and Renault, but cornering speeds tend to be lower as Formula Ford cars lack the downforce-producing aerodynamic aids on the other cars; handling is therefore entirely down to mechanical grip, and the lack of wings ensures that cars following another are not aerodynamically disadvantaged, allowing some of the closest racing with plenty of overtaking. The NZ Series' rules permit treaded tires, generally supplied either by Dunlop (historics) or Avon ACB10's (modern). As the rules limit engine modifications, all cars are relatively equal and racing results tend to be close. Formula Fords allow suspension, damping, gearing and braking bias changes, but not aerodynamic options such as winged cars.
Info sourced from Wikipedia