Spectrum is Australia's premier single-seater constructor, and is chasing success in the UK. MARCUS PYE went down under to take a look
Australia's Spectrum cars have earned a reputation for fine engineering and quality craftsmanship in the Formula Ford arena for 25 years now. But Michael Borland, 47, the man behind the marque, has ambitions to mirror success at home in the UK. No one-trick pony, he also produces the sell-out Sabre Formula Vee and has a Spectrum FF2000 design on the stocks for the US market.
Borland's rise mirrors that of Briton Tony Sinclair — designer/builder of the Jade sports racers — who learned his craft at his uncle Bert Ray's side. Michael eagerly spent his youth in the Mordialloc workshop of his uncle, champion racer Brian Shead, whose excellent Cheetah cars won countless Australian national crowns.
"From the age of eight I was balancing wheels behind Brian's house, where he built the cars, but I started work properly on Brian Sampson's Formula Atlantic Cheetah Mk8, then went on to help Peter Macrow [in FA
and Australian F2]," he recalls. "Borland Racing Developments was founded in '84, when I went full-time to engineer Peter Glover and he won the first of two successive AF2 titles. Later I ran Jon Crooke and Rohan Onslow, the '88 AF2 and CAMS Gold Star champion."
Aided by a small and dedicated team of fabricators, Borland has now surpassed the equally modest Shead's output of "so to 60 cars", ranging from his personal i960 Formula Junior to the ultimate Formula Holden chassis in '89. Indeed the 100th Spectrum FF car should roll out of BRD's bright-and-airy factory at Braeside, south-west of Melbourne, during 2011.
The first Spectrum, designated 02 (01 was drawn but not built), was an FF for Crooke in 1986. It was wrecked first time out at Oran Park but its successor — one-off 03 — is still with Borland. Darren Hossack drove 04 to the Victorian state title in '92, while Jason Bright drove one of two 05s.
The 1998 season was a red-letter one, for Adam Macrow (Peter's son) and
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