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If you look hard enough you can still find a bargain , even in auto racing! AJ Pugliese is living proof of it. (Sadly we lost AJ on May 13, 2019)

Pugliese was the founder and past executive officer of the FRCCA ( Formula Race Car Club of America ) an organization dedicated to providing " the thrill of racing without the agony of expense "

Thats not easy when some famous named racing schools can cost upward of $1,500 per day just to learn the basic skills, but the FRCCA lives up to it's motto.

Incredibly Pugliese argued that the total cost of running the 10-12 races each year on the FRCCA schedule would total $10,000 and that back in the early 80's included the purchase and servicing a single seat, rear engined race car capable of speeds in excess of 140 mph!

The three divisions for this type of car form the backbone of the FRCCA, called "Club Fords" they are older Formula Ford racecars that are no longer competitive against newer machines - except under the special rules of the FRCCA

"there are two aspects of racing: speed and competition," said Pugliese "and somewhere along the line the search for speed was given a higher priority than the search for competition"

This sort of thinking by a sanctioning body can very quickly sideline all but the most wealthy competitors.

Back in 1979, Pugliese was growing frustrated with the Formula Ford rules "the whole concept of Formula Ford was getting out of hand" he said.

"Formula Ford was supposed to be a beginning series in Formula Ford racing." That idea was being forgotten by the people who set the rules, and it has gotten worse since then. Today a competitive new chassis costs more than $30,000. By the time you get it ready to race and add other necessary equipment, like a trailer and some spare parts, you're looking at a $40,000 + investment. As an entry level series Formula Ford became a joke.

With the idea of Club Ford as his only resource, Pugliese and five interested friends decided to try and create a set of Cub Ford rules that would enable older Formula Fords to race competitively, and to make sure they had a place to race, they formed the FRCCA in 1980 and established their own race schedule.

The largest expense of running a Formula Ford had previously been tire costs, with drivers using three or more sets in a sigle race weekend.

The FRCCA has substantially reduced this major expenditure by working with American Racer Tires to develop a special tire capable of lasting an entire race season or more and requiring all Club Ford competitors to use it. Few engine modifications are allowed; the rules called for a specified camshaft with specified lift, a flywheel of uniform weight and allowed virtually no internal modifications to the standard 1600cc Cortina engine.

The whole object of the FRCCA rules is to minimize the effect of the car in the racing equation.

Driving ability is what the the group tries to cultivate. The goal runs from conducting its own racing school which is free to members, (just pay your membership fee and track fees) no other club offers you that! teaching and enforcing professional - style rules. they offer seminars that will enable anyone to learn the small amount of maintenance that the cars require.

"Even though a Formula Ford is a true race car in a sense that it was designed as a true single seat racing machine," said Pugliese, " the cars themselves are mechanically quite simple. Most drivers get by on one or two engine tune - ups a year, and if you don't want to do it yourself, a mechanic can do it at a reasonable cost. Believe me, a person with very little mechanical aptitude can easily do the routine maintenance on a Formula Ford."

Since holding its first race in 1980, the FRCCA now has a division for every style of Formula car from Formula Vee to Formula Libre ( a open formula for any exposed-wheel racer ). The main FRCCA divisions include three Club Ford classes -- Formula Tyro (for inexperienced drivers), Formula 1600 (experienced drivers with Tyro legal cars -- i.e., with required gear ratios), Formula Pro/Avanti (same cars with a slightly different points structure),the following classes do not need to follow the Club Ford rules: Formula Ford, wing class (any Formula car with downforce)

 "the concept of affordable, safe and competitive formula car racing has universal appeal,"

Pugliese said. "With the success we've had in the Northeast, it's clear that there is interest in this type of racing. Not everyone believes that the only type of racing is Nascar stock car racing. Race fans watch races on TV and dream about racing in the Indy 500 or the Monoco Grand Prix; with the FRCCA, most people can finally experience Formula car racing from the cockpit."


At the end of the 2008 season AJ Pugliese decided to retire as the club president. and the club was taken over by John and Sue Heckman who ran the club for a couple of years before John's work commitments forced a move to North Carolina making travel to the club events long and difficult, Andy Graham a club member since 1995 then stepped in to take the helm as the club President and continues the original philosophy of affordable racing. Joining forces in 2001 with EMRA ( Eastern Motor Racing Association ) in an effort to keep the cost of race entries in check due to high track rental costs. The partnership continues today and both organizations offer great racing opportunities for anyone who has a dream of going racing!

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