Last weekend’s Cultra Hillclimb in Northern Ireland celebrated 50 years of the Formula Ford racing category and “60 Years of Crosslé racing cars”. The Thoroughbred Sports Car Club hillclimb is based in the parkland grounds of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and once again attracted a capacity entry of 100 cars.
The overall theme of the event was “Fast and Furious Formula Fords” so it was only right that the end of day ‘Shoot-Out’ was given over to the category. The bulk of the ten car entry was represented by Northern Ireland’s FF manufacturer Crossle with cars from Mondiale, the former Bangor constructor and Reynard also vying for a trophy “In Memory of Dr John Crosslé MBE”.
In a great piece of synergy the winner was Holywood’s (home of Crossle) Jack Brien in the families newly acquired 1967 Crossle 16F, a car designed and built 48 years ago. Having only done two competitive miles in the car, the youngster edged out Nicholas Gibson’s’ 40F by just 3/10sec and at the same time claimed his first ever major trophy.
Outside the imposing Georgian Manor the large crowd had the opportunity to see a wide selection of cars from Crossle, which included the 1962 4F Formula Junior of Derek Walker which was John Crosslé’s first rear-engined design.
These cars were also available in 1172 Formula specification and were the first Crosslé to carry the iconic Digit/F-Suffix, which continues to be used to this day, for the marque’s single-seater race cars.
Bringing the marquee up to the present day was the newly launched 90F single seater, which is inspired by the iconic designs from the late sixties and developed for a classic racing school in France
Also on display was two unique Smith Formula Fords, which were built by Ballymena engineer John Smith 81. He followed so many of his contemporaries and built a front-engine Ford Special in 1960-61 and raced it at Kirkistown until the Irish Ford category of the time faded out.
The local racers then favoured a replacement category using Hillman Imp engines and gearboxes, using a rear-engined configuration, as a base. The “Impalas” were soon overtaken by the new Formula Ford category and John converted the car to that specification and created the RE Smith FF.
John and his son Darwin also got to parade the cars on the hill and relive some of the old times.