Global interest in Australian F5000 rebirth
A flood of interest in the recently launched Formula Thunder 5000 series has included inquiries from potential international competitors.
Category spearhead Chris Lambden says he’s been pleasantly surprised by the extent of interest in the concept, which could hold its first race as early as December.
It is hoped that Formula Thunder 5000 will establish itself as the region’s first proper ‘destination’ open-wheel class since the original Formula 5000 died in the 1970s.
As previously reported, the technical package is underpinned by a Swift-designed chassis previously seen in Formula Nippon, powered by a 5.0 litre Ford Coyote V8 engine.
The launch of the project received overwhelming public support via social media, providing further encouragement to Lambden and his backers.
“We thought it’d be a pretty popular concept, but I’ve been delighted with the reaction,” Lambden told Speedcafe.com.
“I’ve even had contact from people in the UK, the US and Hungary, some of it media interest and some of it inquiring about coming out here and being involved.
“It’s been a very pleasant surprise to have that level of inquiry.
“The response among fans has also been spectacular which I think proves to anyone who is thinking about becoming involved that it’s going to be popular.”
The original Tasman Series, held between 1964 and 1975, attracted some of the world’s best drivers including Formula 1 stars in its heyday.
Several locally based potential competitors have meanwhile already viewed the Formula Thunder prototype car, which is expected to hit the track within the next six weeks.
Lambden hopes to hold as many as five rounds in Australia as well as a trip to New Zealand in a compact calendar over the summer months.
A dozen firm orders for the approximately $240,000 cars is however needed before production of the first batch will start.
Production will take place locally, with all the required moulds and design drawings having been purchased from Swift.
“We have determined that we’ll push the green button when we’ve got 12 confirmed orders,” he said.
“You’ve seen some modest grids in other categories over recent years, so I don’t think we’ll need more than that to get going.
“We’ve had some interesting people ring up and come and have a look and I’m pretty optimistic (that it can start in December).
“But we’ve got to do things right from day one. If that means modifying things at the end of the year then so be it.”
Lambden admits there is a ‘chicken and egg’ element to the process of securing orders for cars while also firming up details of the calendar and related commercial agreements.
“The tracks we’ve spoken to have been very open to our cars headlining a race meeting in January, because at that time of year most of the tracks aren’t doing anything,” he said.
“We’re a fair way down the road in talking to circuits and I’m confident we can have a good set of races in January in Australia.
“We’ve also had some preliminary chats and hope to put together a good broadcast and publicity package.”