How to Build and Maintain Competitive (yet legal) Formula Ford 1600 Engines

by Jake Lamont

BuildAndMaintain_256.jpgJake Lamont’s well known book “How to Build and Maintain Competitive (yet legal) Formula Ford 1600 Engines” – written with Tom Andreson – is the bible of the Kent engine for the home-builder. While it serves, especially, as the guide to the Kent engine for innumerable racers who assemble their own engines, it is also a valuable reference book for anyone running in Formula Ford. Jake put everything he knew about this engine into the book, including a vast amount of technical information and engine building savvy.

But Jake did much more than write a meticulous, valuable and insightful book. His tireless efforts to see the life of the Kent engine extended through the development and acceptance of aftermarket parts and related rules adjustments gave new life to the world’s most popular racing class. He submitted the original proposals for rules changes such as the reduction in flywheel weight and he lobbied hard for their passage by the Comp Board. Many others then followed and most of Jake’s objectives were achieved.

In addition, the creation of the original FF1600 website – “The Formula Ford Underground” - was a milestone in increased communication within the FF racing community and it became the most active and most heavily subscribed website dedicated to a single racing class in the world. Jake left it as a “read-only” archive but in 2006, hackers destroyed the site and all its contents. The new open wheel racing forum, , has taken the place of the FFU and caters to those who race FF1600 and several other open wheel classes.  

The following is a comprehensive update to Jake’s book and covers aftermarket parts status as well as SCCA Rules changes. The information is current as of April 2007. Although there is an update in the latest printing of the book, it does not cover all the most recent changes.





Pistons - Minimum Weight - now 515g with rings and pin and circlips
Connecting Rods - Minimum Weight -now 630g with bolts and bushing
Flywheel - Minimum Weight - now 15.5 lbs. with ring gear and clutch dowels

Piston Valve Reliefs – Can be cut up to .050” deeper a meet compression ratio spec. Electronic ignition trigger ( such as Pertronix ) is now permitted. Replaces points.  

As a result of the hard work by Jake Lamont and others who lobbied the Competition Board and the Formula Car Advisory Committee in 2001 and 2002, the SCCA adjusted the policy covering FF1600 engine rules to allow aftermarket parts to be approved as long as they matched OEM parts in material, weight and profile and pending review of the proposed parts by the SCCA. This allowed hard-to-find or prohibitively expensive parts to be developed on an “aftermarket” basis thus filling the void left when Ford Racing ceased production of the Kent engine some years before.

Aftermarket parts approved by the SCCA for use in the Kent engine include crankshafts, camshafts, aluminum cylinder heads, intake and exhaust valves, electronic ignition components, head gaskets, rocker pedestals, flywheels and pistons. As of late 2010, new 711M cylinder blocks are being produced by FORD RACING.  

There are three different crankshafts currently available for the FF1600 engine. SCCA Enterprises developed and produced a crankshaft machined by SCAT in California. These cranks are available directly from SCCA Enterprises and from any of the major FF1600 engine builders such as Ivey, Loyning and Quicksilver - among others. They are finished, sized, balanced and polished so they’re basically a “drop-in” piece. Although the initial cost is greater than were prepped OEM cranks, the improved material and larger journal fillets assure a far longer life. As a result, the cost over its useful life is actually lower. NOTE - Some of the engine builders do additional prep work on these crankshafts – including shot-peening, checking balance and dimensions, etc. Dave Bean has also produced an aftermarket crankshaft and it’s available directly from Dave Bean Engineering. Crankshafts based on the Ford OEM design are produced by FFI in the UK are available through Pegasus Racing Products. Although the FFI parts are advertised as being “Ford licensed”, racers should be aware that no such approval is required for parts used in the SCCA – nor is a Ford logo required.

The new aluminum cylinder heads, produced by Pierce Manifold is an exact replica of the OEM iron head and are available un-prepped through a wide range of parts sources including major parts suppliers like BAT. Fully race-prepared heads can be obtained through most engine builders and specialty cylinder head prep shops.

SCCA rules allow the use of AE valves.    Part no. V34524 Intake Part no. V34525 Exhaust

Approved cams as produced by Elgin and by Kent Cams to SCCA specs are available from a number of engine builders and parts supply houses. Pagasus sells cams similar to OEM made by FFI in the UK. Legal cams are also sold by BAT.  

In addition to the OEM gaskets, SCCA has recently approved the use of the Payen and FelPro aftermarket versions. Ford - Part No. 931M6051AA, Payen Part No. AH-750 Felpro   Part No. 8360PT-1 

Approved aftermarket versions have been developed from aluminum billets and are available from Ivey, BAT and other sources. These pedestals maintain the shaft in the original position as required by the rules.

OEM flywheels can be cut to the approved reduced weight of 15.5 lbs with ring gear and clutch pins in place. The approved JAE aftermarket flywheel – developed by Ivey Engines - is also available through most engine builders and parts supply sources. The JAE flywheel is manufactured at 16.5 lbs and  is supplied by most engine builders cut to 16.0 lbs. so that an allowance is made for future resurfacing of the clutch face.

AE/Hepolite pistons are available from several sources but the CP forged aluminum pistons – both standard bore and .005” are the new standard because of their availability, quality and durability. CP pistons are available from Ivey Engines, Loyning's, Quicksilver and many other fine FF engine builders.

New 711M cylinder blocks are now being produced by Ford Racing. Reconditioned original blocks are available from Pegasus. These sleeved blocks have been produced in England by FFI. The FORD FIESTA used the Kent block ( casting number 771M ) which is approved for use in Formula Ford. Some of these blocks have side engine mounts and others do not. Minor modifications are required in the area of the front cover. Fiestas were sold by the thousands in the US and can still be found in salvage yards. This engine also yields 711M connecting rods and the rear cover. Of course, the 711M Kent block was also used in many of the 71-73 Ford 1.6L Pintos.