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It’s Christmas Eve, and how many aspiring racers have asked Santa for a car to race, or more pointedly a car that they can afford to race.

Be it your first time or a long repeated request, Santa may just delivered.

Velocity Motorsport Magazine first heard of the proposed Formula RX8 at Calder Park. Like so many other conversations it all sounded too good to be true, perhaps even a little bit too good to be true.

Bargain race ready cars sold off a showroom floor, cut price entry fees, transport subsidies, coaching staff, shared data, national television coverage, sponsor assistance from a not-for-profit organisation is every racer’s dream to be found at the foot of their Christmas tree. 

And just like the concept of Santa Claus to the enlightened new age, the promises and dreams of Formula RX8 were politely pushed to one side.

Until now.

As in the iconic New York Sun editorial, first published in 1897; Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus.

In the case of Formula RX8 there are four boots that fill those famous shoes. Two totally different personas linked by a common twine; an unbridled love of racing and a mission to share that passion to all.

At a time when motorsport seems to have priced itself out of the reach of the grass roots racer, Formula RX8 promises to deliver a product for the masses. A Model-T of sorts in a Rolls Royce motorsport world.

Justin Lewis is the public face of Formula RX8, the promotions and marketing man. Stacy Vickers is the quiet voice in the background, the nuts and bolts guy; designing specifications, creating parts, supply chains and cars, while also creating the sporting regulations along the way.

Vickers has a distinguished motorsport history, having raced in various forms of Production, Improved Production, and Thunder Saloon based racing in his native England. His fascination in the technicalities and operations of the sport eventually led Vickers to a role working with the British Automobile Racing Club, overseeing six different categories as the competition manager as well as roles on Motorsport UK panels. 

A move down under some ten years ago brought a temporary hiatus to Vickers’ motorsport career, until a COVID inspired lockdown project resulted in the construction of his RX8 Cup car.

When the world emerged and Vickers finally returned to the circuit, where it took him barely a moment to see that Australia had a very different way of going about racing.

Through observations and personal experiences, Vickers developed some ideas to improve car reliability, reduce costs and create a more level playing field.

Those ideas formed the basis of Formula RX8, though Stacy had hoped that they would eventually find their way into the already established Mazda category.

Justin Lewis is the second name in this cocktail of personas, with Vickers very much the subdued whisper and gentle tap on the shoulder.

If Vickers is the man on a mission, then Lewis puts the passion in the project.

From the moment he first strapped into an RX8 racer just over a year ago, Lewis was hooked.

He talks of adrenalin rushes and near euphoric moments as opposed to victories a trophies; the racing itself as the true reward and not the conclusion.

It is an experience that he wants to share with the world.

In a world where dollars talk, the level of one’s talent is more often overlooked by the size of their wallet.

There is perhaps no other sphere than that of motorsport where this adage applies so readily.

Who knows just how many potential champions sweep factory floors, stock shelves or stand beneath the hoist, wiping away the grime from the bellies of oil soaked relics; as the dollars raised became disproportionate to their passion and talent.

Something had to give.

It was a simple walk through the paddock during a Hi-Tec Oils Super Series round at Sydney Motorsport Park that Lewis had his own version of Dicken’s Christmas Carol.

In his first full season of circuit racing, Lewis had skyrocketed into title contention. From adrenalin induced rookie errors to a more accomplished driving style Justin moved to the head of the pack in his pristine Yellow Express Mazda RX8, with no small help from his stable of engineers and support personnel.

As Lewis wandered down the back of the garages, he came across Tom Derwent’s mother trying to run tyre pressure checks on her son’s car. Racing had been a family affair until Tom’s father passed away. Now it was Tom’s mother who tried, as best she could to support her son’s racing.

It was there that the epiphany struck.

How much of Lewis’ success was down to talent alone? How competitive would Tom Derwent become with that same level of support? To Lewis it didn’t sound fair.

And in Lewis’ own words; “I love fair.”

Lewis jumped in and helped and sent down his team a little later to help with the car set up. Derwent then went on to claim his best result of the season.

So the seeds for Formula RX8 were sown.

Vickers’ concept for a single make RX8 category and Lewis’ desire for a driver focussed playing field gelled to become Formula RX8.

Formula RX8 aligned with the AASA and the Hi-Tec Oils Super Series for their inaugural season, while Hi-Tec Oils CEO George Gambino came on board with sponsorship.

Lewis’ Yellow Express headquarters on Victoria Road, Rozelle NSW, soon incorporated the Formula RX8 showroom and business hub.

The general public and potential drivers are welcome to inspect a ‘demonstrator’ example of a Formula RX8 in the showroom, then pick a car and colour from the fleet in the factory behind.

Immediately above the showroom is a podcast studio, which is a first for Australian motorsport. Drivers are interviewed and a short video is posted on the category’s market place aimed at matching drivers to prospective sponsors.

It is the intention of Formula RX8 to simplify the process of drivers finding sponsors, which in itself is a black art.

In the three weeks since the Formula RX8 website became active over 150 people have registered their interest for 2024. From established race teams to the novice with an RX8 road car, the spectrum is wide and varied.

At $25,000 to $30,000 for a race ready car, $790 entry fees for founding members, transport subsidies, sponsor support, cost priced parts, cash prizes, a series sponsor and guaranteed national television coverage, Formula RX8 may well become the new industry standard for entry level racing.

Vickers and Lewis just need the red jackets and white beards.


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