For the first time in years, a young, talented and fast Canadian Formua Ford driver will have his or her way paid to Britain next fall to compete in the annual Formula Ford Festival that is held each October at the famous Brands Hatch circuit.
A project initiated by Brian Graham Racing Sports and Entertainment, in partnership with Grote Industries (manufacturers of vehicle lighting and safety systems), the aim is to give one Canadian racer a chance to compete against the best Formula Ford drivers in the world.
At a news conference Saturday, Graham and his associates issued a challenge to Canadian corporations to get behind the project and, if funding is sufficient, a second driver will also get to go.
Graham, whose Formula Ford racing team has fielded entries in recent years for up-and-coming racers like Kyle Marcelli and Conor Daly, said that in the beginning, candidates will be restricted to the two Central Canadian FF sanctioning groups – the Quebec Formula Tour and the Ontario Formula Ford Challenge.
He noted that in addition to giving one or two deserving racers an opportunity to show their stuff at the British Festival (Danica Patrick caught the attention of Bobby Rahal as the result of her performance at the Festival), the prize could prove an incentive for young Canadian karters to pursue formula car competition in Canada rather than going to the U.S. to race in the Star Mazda Series or the Skip Barber Championship.
Graham said five candidates will be short-listed at the end of the Canadian season in September and that, in addition to speed in competition, they will be judged on technical feedback, media competence and how they present themselves overall.
Canadian racing legend Ron Fellows has agreed to serve on the panel to decide the winner, or winners.
At one time, young Canadians – Brian Stewart, Danny Burritt, Luke de Sadaleer and Andrew Bordin, among others – won either one-offs or "seasons in Europe" to prove themselves but a lack of funding and interest saw those programs die off.
Graham has been toying with the idea of reviving such a program for several years and, with the backing of Grote and his business partners, has decided the time is right to launch the project.