The Queensland Formula Ford racing scene has had a big boost in participation this year thanks to a proactive competitor group
James Corbett is one member that is leading the charge in Queensland. He recently sat down for a Three Minute chat so we can get to know more about his racing.
Photo by Andrew Wu
James, halfway through the season now; how would you describe your season so far?
Mixed, I'm reasonably happy with my pace compared to the young guys, and I've been the quickest of the rest but my results have been pretty terrible points wise. That said though I've had some really fun racing this year.
What got you into Formula Ford in the first place? And when was it?
Back in 2006. I had a 1930s single seat racecar that I used to enter in Top Gear meetings at Queensland Raceway. These were open to any open wheeler and there were a lot of Formula Fords racing there. Obviously the old bus couldn't keep up with them, but I saw that not all of guys driving them were young guys. They seemed pretty reliable, their suspensions intrigued me and looked like lots of fun, so I bought one.
So you've been in and around the scene for quite a while now, what's the most impressive thing you've seen in Formula Ford in Queensland?
Race two at QR at the last round of our championship. QR makes for such great racing in Kent Formula Fords. And to be racing wheel to wheel like that with your son is not something many people will ever get to do. A bit of a privilege really.
You seem to have good speed in qualifying this year but it's not really being converted into race results. Your thoughts on that?
A lot of the time it's a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. One or two of those things have been my mistake but the other three or four I've had someone run into me or I've had to take evasive action to avoid somebody or an electrical problem. You know ridiculous stuff.
You've got arguably the most modern FF1600 car in the country. How did that come about?
I had a Spectrum 010b which is a 2005 model, the bodywork was getting a bit tatty so I thought I'd talk to Mike Borland about getting a new body for it. I knew that the newest Spectrum, the 014 was Chrome-moly, I also knew it was the roomiest Formula Ford available, and with me being almost 6' and 95 kgs, too big for this game really, I asked Mike for a price on a new chassis, suspension and body. The price was reasonable so I did it; and it is a pleasure to fit in the car properly.
Formula Ford is famous for developing young talent. Why do you believe Formula Ford is a great category for amateur drivers who see their motorsport as a hobby?
I don't think anything else will get you a faster lap time for less money. They're reliable and they really teach you how to drive; if you can drive one of these cars well, you can drive anything. And the standard is high if you want to be measured. Over the last few years I've raced wheel to wheel with, and occasionally beaten, talented guys that are going on with it. Like Jordan Lloyd and Matt Campbell. Sure they have developed their skills since then, but they have always had natural talent.
You did the Shannon's Nationals round at QR last year. I had a look on Natsoft and you were very quick compared to the NSW competitors who came up. For those that haven't done a National event how did you find it? Enjoyable? Stressful?
I didn't find it stressful, I really enjoyed the event. I know there wasn't a lot of cars there but getting pole position ahead of Cameron Walters (who did go on to be the 2015 Australian FF1600 Champion), given my weight and that I'm 53 years old, it was an absolute highlight.
Well I'm sure that would make you the oldest person ever to get pole at a National Formula Ford meeting! You obviously got a lot out of it, so you'd obviously encourage others to step up and have a go at a National round?
Yeah, it was nice to be on such a grippy track, to have so many cars there, and so many spectators. I mean it's obviously a bit more of a hassle than a state level meeting but I really enjoyed it and I recommend everyone should have a go at it.
Photo by Andrew Wu.