Ex NZ Formula First driver Robert Clarke has been competing in the US Formula since leaving New Zealand. Earlier this year his father and Tech Officer, Rex, watched his son compete and has written about his experience.
Earlier this year we went up to the USA to visit our son Robert who now lives there. Some of you will remember Robert from the days when he raced a Formula First here, in the 1990’s. These days he competes in the US Formula First Championship. This year’s championship schedule included a round at a meeting run by the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from June 7th to 11th. This brand-new event was an opportunity for open-wheel racers from around the world to experience what it is like to race at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway while paying homage to the 50th anniversary of Formula Ford racing and all of the great drivers who started their racing careers in them.
It was thought that this inaugural event was the largest gathering of open-wheel competition cars ever assembled. In addition to Formula Ford, any open wheel car, vintage to the newest USA F4 class, including Formula One, Formula 5000, Indy cars, Indy Lights, Formula Vee, and Formula Junior were invited. Specific race groups were established that combined cars of similar speed. So, in Roberts race group we had Classic Formula Vee, Formula Vee, Formula First, and alone F600. Even within the classes there were cars that were not part of any championship but had been bought specifically to run at this meeting.
The meeting lived up to all expectations, I have never seen so many single seater race cars of all classes gathered in one place, I believe there were over 300, and not just on display, but racing.
As this was a closed meeting, (no public admittance) the stands were empty and the noise of the cars running down the front straight was unreal.
The SVRA were so pleased with the response they are planning a similar meeting in 2019. If they do it will be a unique opportunity to run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Robert had a mixed weekend, qualified 4th, for Saturday’s race and 3rd for Sunday’s race. Sunday’s race was lying 2nd, with a nice buffer to 3rd, when the gear linkage broke.
The video is from Roberts car during Saturday’s race and shows a major incident that occurred at the start.