Ford Motorsports resurrects the legendary Kent block and puts it back into production.


Genesis. No, we’re not talking about the British rock group that made Phil Collins a household name. Here, we’re talking about the word’s meaning as in “beginning” or “roots”.

In this case, as many of us at will attest, the genesis for one of the most successful racing classes in motorsports history. Formula Ford, was created in the U.K. in 1967. Although many of the earliest races were contested using the 1500 cc Ford Cortina engine (from the GT), racers quickly gravitated to the 1600 cc ‘Kent’ engine, which enjoyed a long and storied career until it was replaced in 1993 by the 1800 cc 16-valve Zetec. Since that time, between 5,000 and 7,000 drivers competing in Kent-engined race cars around the world have been finding it increasingly difficult to obtain spare parts.

A new beginning

Now, according to Ford Motor Company, a re-engineered ‘Kent’ is to be reborn here in the states.

“Our parts division has many years of expertise in re-making blocks,” says Ford Racing Engineering Supervisor Andy Slankard, “and we are going to take our knowledge of modern techniques to remanufacture the 'Kent' block and improve its durability. Our aim is not to make performance gains but to strengthen it and to make the unit more reliable.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="410"]Race of Champions Brands Hatch 1969 Race of Champions Brands Hatch 1969[/caption]

“There are many thousands of 'Kent'-engined Formula Ford cars still racing around the world – particularly in the USA, which never adopted the Ford Zetec engine which replaced it in Europe – and we believe that the majority of owners of these historic machines will want to retain the originality of their car by using a genuine Ford engine.”

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="410"]1988 Michael Schumacher in his formula Ford 1988 Michael Schumacher in his formula Ford[/caption]

Drivers of note

Lest you think the Formula Ford series is reserved only for casual weekend drivers, it should be noted that this somewhat unassuming engine powered some of the greatest drivers in motorsports to their first successes – drivers such as Emerson Fittipaldi, Jody Scheckter, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard and Jenson Button.

Even Danica Patrick, early in her career, managed a second place finish in a British Formula Ford Festival.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="410"]Denis Hulme testing a 1967 Formula Ford Denis Hulme testing a 1967 Formula Ford[/caption]

Images courtesy of Ford Motor Company