A few TSO Ladder Notes from Steve:

We’ll come back and look at this announcement and it’s possible impact on the American open wheel ladder in much more detail next week, but here are a couple of quick notes:

  • TSO had a chance to talk to Marc Sours, senior manager and chief engineer at Honda Performance Development at Gateway Motorsports Park in August. We discussed manufacturer’s commitment to grassroots racing at all levels, and also their plans for F4 United States Championship Powered by Honda (F4) and whether they would make the jump to the next level, Formula 3 (F3)
  • While this announcement has been long rumored, quite honestly, I expected the series to debut in 2019.
  • There is a good chance that this well be seen as an attack on the Mazda Road To Indy presented by Cooper Tire (MRTI). There is no doubt that is a valid perspective, but if you ask Honda Performance Development, their aim is to solely increase the number of people participating in motor sports. One of the ways of accomplishing that is to keep costs as low as possible.
  • With 34 F4 entries at Circuit of the Americas this weekend, it appears that entry level budgets that have not yet reached $200,000 are attractive. We’ll compare F4 and USF2000 budgets in more detail (as well as the positives and negatives of each series), at a later time.  (for a little reference, a yearly F4 budget is at minimum 40% lower than a yearly USF2000 budget.)

Here a few images of the Honda powered Ligier Crawford chassis, developed by Onroak – note that it does have a halo cockpit protection device similar to what will appear in Formula 1.


Here is the press-release from F4 United States Championship Powered by Honda.

PRESS RELEASE: Save The Date–Details of F3 Americas series to be announced Thursday, October 19th at Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, TX

(INDIANAPOLIS, IN – September 16th, 2017) Another step toward alignment with a globally recognized racing development structure will become much clearer on October 19th in Austin, TX, when the details of the new F3 Americas racing series will be announced, featuring an all-new F3-FIA* spec race car.

With the phenomenal growth of the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda that debuted in 2016, F4 series competitors are looking forward to the next level of open-wheel competition that continues affordability, modern technology, and the ability to obtain FIA Super License points. The F4 U.S. series’ final two races of 2017 will run during the F1 weekend activities at COTA, and the series champion will be invited to attend the Formula 1 Awards banquet.

This new F3 race car will feature an all-new, state-of-the-art, U.S.-designed and built Ligier Crawford chassis, developed by Onroak, and will be powered by a 270-horsepower Honda Performance Development version of the new Honda Civic® Type-R® turbocharged K20 motor (a non-turbocharged version is used in the F4 U.S. Championship). The new F3 Americas series will continue running on proven Pirelli tires developed for this series.

The F3 Americas series aligns with the global FIA development ladder philosophy of using common components to provide a cost-efficient, reliable, and powerful racing structure as drivers ascend through the levels on their way to U.S. or global racing success. The announcement event on October 19th will unveil the F3 car and provide preliminary vehicle specifications, as well as information on vehicle availability and ordering information.

“SCCA Pro Racing’s introduction of an FIA F3 race series is a great opportunity for our partners and SCCA Pro Racing to reset the current paradigm of open wheel racing in North America,” said Steve Oseth, Vice President/General Manager of SCCA Pro Racing. “Its introduction, combined with the steps above and below the F3 series, will work to greatly lower the running costs of open-wheel race cars.”

Art St. Cyr, President, Honda Performance Development, adds: “Our grassroots racing engines have provided the basis for many top-level racers and we’re excited to continue offering the affordable and reliable Honda K20 Type-R engine as part of this series. It also helps to showcase the ability of our grassroots racing programs to support racing skills development, as the competitors progress through higher levels of engine power.”

Max Crawford, General Manager of Onroak Automotive North America, notes that “The F3 race series will feature the next generation of all-new FIA race cars, the Ligier Crawford JS F3, designed and manufactured in the United States, at Onroak Automotive North America’s headquarters in Denver, North Carolina.  The Ligier Crawford JS F3 is the next step up from Onroak Automotive NA’s successful F4 car. The ability to design, manufacture and service the cars in the U.S. has always been part of Onroak Automotive NA’s commitment to the F3 series. The design team in Denver, NC, has worked comprehensively with the FIA on implementing all the requirements for the new generation of F3 cars, and this has enabled us to produce the new car at a level of performance and safety that leads the world.”

Orazio Mastracchio, NAFTA Motorsport Manager for Pirelli NA states: “With more than 100 years of Pirelli motorsport experience and development for the drivers of powerful sports cars, sports coupes and high performance luxury sedans, we’re excited to be a part of this new F3 series, which directly ties into the learning and success we’ve had at the premier levels of motorsports.”

*Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile