Friday 31 May 2013

Rally - Wedding sirens

For one bride and groom, it was a matter of “Don’t Panic!” when they heard that they would have to share their wedding venue with one of the biggest sporting events in Scotland, the Jim Clark Rally.

Georgie Moor and Eddie Bell are getting married at Kelso Racecourse tomorrow Saturday the 1st of June, and it was only after they had booked the venue they found out the rally was coming to town that same weekend.

When Georgie heard she was sharing the Kelso Racecourse facility with the rally she did what any bride would do – she asked if she could have a run in a rally car, to fulfil a lifelong ambition!

On the day before her wedding she was duly zipped up into a racesuit, crash-hatted and belted into a rally car for the day of her life before the biggest day of her life.

Her reaction: “Wowww! That was fab. But I was too short to reach the normal co-driver’s footrest so I couldn’t brace myself, although I was well strapped in. But that was fab!”

Husband to be and long time rally fan Eddie Bell also got a run with rally driver Brian Kinghorn after Georgie: “I’ve watched the Jim Clark Rally for years but never been in a rally car,” said Eddie, “the g-forces under braking and during cornering are unbelievable.”
Originally from Wooler, Georgie works as a beautician in Kelso while Eddie is a gamekeeper with Lothian Estates at Jedburgh.

Thursday 30 May 2013

Rally - Almost underway

This is the Jim Clark Rally service park in Kelso earlier today. This time tomorrow it will be stoatin' with activity. The shakedown stage will be in use from 9.30 am till 1.30 pm on Friday with a further half hour 'guest session' to follow and all over by 2 pm.

Earlier this evening the Rally Forum was staged in Kelso and all 12 guests turned up and on time. All we needed was a bigger audience. Those who were there seemed to enjoy it and two folk who had never been to such an event before and didn't know what to expect came up and shook me by the hand after it. So was it worth the effort, who knows?

The quiz went down well and nearly everyone won a prize, and everyone went home happy.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Rally - Forum Guest List

Genesis once played here!
Crikey, what a line-up. That's 12 guests invited, accepted and confirmed for Thursday evening's Jim Clark Rally Forum - a night of banter, craic, gossip and idle chatter, and all with a rallying theme.

Not since the 'The Avengers Assemble' has such an all-star cast been assembled. The full guest list is: Jukka Korhonen, Tom Cave, Jonny Greer, Matthew Corby, Adam Spence, Garry Pearson, John MacCrone, Jonny Milner, Tony Harris, Aaron McClure, Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton. And if any of them don't turn up, we'll just insult them in their absence!

All we need now is an MC who is up to the task and an audience who is up for a 'guid nicht oot'. So give the TV remote and the gamepad a rest for one night only, this will be live entertainment with the emphasis on 'live'!

Did you know that Genesis once played the Tait Hall? Admittedly it was a wee while ago, but the Hall ain't seen nothing like it since then - till now.

Doors open 7.00 pm for 7.30 and entry is FREE.

Tait Hall, Edenside Road, Kelso. TD5 7BS.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Rally - Tarmac terror

Hard to think that such an innocuous name and such a pretty village has the capacity to strike fear into rallyists, but this one does, and it will do so again this weekend.

Although the village can actually trace its roots back to the 11th century, the present picturesque hamlet is only 300 years old! And here we are in the 21st century and it is still the site of aerial jousts accompanied by the crashing of metal - and not a knight to be seen anywhere.

So if you are thinking of spectating there this year, park sensibly and reasonably far away (beyond shrapnel distance!), and please stand well back. Some rally drivers confuse the Swintonmill crossroads for the approach to Edinburgh airport

Monday 27 May 2013

Rally - Beware the Bull

An interested bystander during yesterday's Jim Clark Rally recce was this chap, glowering at the cars as they slowly passed by his domain. He fairly scowled at the shiny cars with co-drivers feverishly writing down the calls made by their drivers.

But he did make a point. If any would-be spectator fancies a short-cut across the fields to a favoured viewing point, then he or she should look before they leap. So don't wear any red scarves or anoraks, and certainly no fluorescents or high heels, in case you upset the locals!

So be extra careful this weekend. Act sensibly and with consideration to others, and have regard for the locals, it's not only rally cars that go bump in the lanes!

Sunday 26 May 2013

Rally - Calm before Storm

The editorial Transit at rest just after the 'wheel wash' at a certain location somewhere near Duns in the Scottish Borders.

The recce for Jim Clark Rally competitors starts today, but come rally weekend, this particular location will look far different. For one thing, it will be lined with the serried ranks of cheering and yee-haaaing spectators all waiting to see how this pretty looking, but sneakily malevolent, stretch of water will be treated by those going about the seriously competitive business of rallying.

Underneath that clear and shimmering surface lurks a slimily slippery slab of concrete just waiting and ready to grab the unwary.

Road - Healey Gathering

Today, Healey owners and their cars from all over Europe are descending on Crieff, in Perthshire. The attraction is the fourth European gathering of the Healey Owners Club, following the first in Luxembourg in 1999, then Switzerland in 2004 and Sweden in 2008.

Owners and guests will be arriving at the Crieff Hydro Hotel from this afternoon ready for a whole week of events. Tomorrow there will be a Concours on the hotel lawn, on Tuesday a drive through the Trossachs and Loch Lomond, a Track Day and autotest at Knockhill on Wednesday, another drive into the Highlands on Thursday ending with a visit to Glenturret Distillery on Friday. On Saturday, it's pack up time and go home.

Apparently Scotland was chosen as this year's venue "for its spectacular scenery" - and rain is forecast tomorrow! A typical warm Scottish welcome, eh?

Saturday 25 May 2013

Rally - Test on the ranges

Solway Car Club had arranged an excellent day's testing on military ranges ahead of the Jim Clark and Reivers Rallies. Just a pity more folk didn't take advantage. It was an ideal venue and the weather was ideal too. Indeed, very similar weather to what Berwickshire will get next weekend!*!

John MacCrone was there with the DS3 and Alex Laffey with his Fiesta S2000 and both sounded minted echoing across the ranges. Jock Armstrong was trying out a flat shift on the  Subaru for the first time and Jim Sharp was trying the Lancer out after its Manx woes. Fraser Wilson was trying too, and had a dinged wheel to show for it. Stuart Glendinning was giving his RWD Puma its first taste of tarmac ahead of the JCR so this test was ideal for him.

Arron Newby used the test to try out a brand new engine. Same spec but new and was pleased with it. There will be a full report on the website of all who were there - soon.

Blethers - Cops with cameras

Travelling south on the M74 this morning, encountered a rolling road block with the fully lit and flashing Polis car just a few cars ahead. After a couple of miles at 15 mph, the lights went off and the Polis disappeared at plenty o' quick mph. Then just a couple of miles down the road, there was the same car with the Polisman leaning nonchalently cross-legged against the back door of the BMW Touring - with the gun. Then just another couple of miles further down the road, there was an unmarked black BMW on the hard shoulder talking to the driver of a people carrying M-B Vito who had earlier sped past in the outside lane, having been delayed by the rolling road block no doubt. Conspiracy theory? Or were the Polis just needing to top up the coffers?

Friday 24 May 2013

Rally - Mental Renault

Spotted at Monaco ahead of this weekend's 71st Monaco GP was this mental Renault. Based on an established concept of a future Renault City Car the bodywork clothes a tubular spaceframe chassis  with a 3.5 litre V6 stuffed up its backside and driven through a 6 speed sequential gearbox and LSD.

The glass-polyester composite bodywork with carbonfibre front blade, roof, rear vent and wheelarches ensures that the car tips the scales at a mere 950 kg while the 320 hp V6 is spirited enough to propel the little tyke to 155, hitting 60 mph from rest in under 4.4 seconds.

The car was demonstrated/driven around the circuit by 67 year old veteran French rally driver Jean Ragnotti who won the WRC Monte Carlo in 1981 and the Tour of Corsica twice in 1982 and ’85 – and he’s still giving it plenty.

Sadly, Renault has no plans to build any more.

Blethers - Now on Twitter

I've gone and went and done it now. Started a Twitter account. Don't know yet if this is a good idea or not, but it wasn't my idea. Neither is Facebook, although I have registered a name - just in case. Anyway, we'll see how Twitter goes first.


Thursday 23 May 2013

Rally - Jim Clark programmes

There is a full list of where to buy Jim Clark and Reivers Rally programmes on the website now:

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Rally - Blooming signs

Signs are growing that something is about to bloom in Berwickshire. A rather unusual shrub has been spotted flowering on selected verges. Each plant appears to have a single bare stem supporting one rather large but colourful petal. The petal design is so precise it looks more man-made than natural, but the new blooms have certainly been catching folks' attention. However, petal pluckers are asked not to interfere with nature and leave these fragile blooms alone, at least until after the 2nd of June when they will start to wilt.

Full story:

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Rally - Jim Clark Rally Forum

The organisers of this year's Jim Clark Rally will be hosting a Rally Forum in the Tait Hall in Kelso on Thursday evening the 30th of May. Doors open at 7, ignition on at 7.30 pm - and entry is FREE.

Full details on the website - with more to follow:

Road - Puzzle revealed

Only one reader correctly identified last weekend's rare beast and it was of course, a Swallow Doretti. It would be unfair to call this a 'kit car' even though only around 200 were ever built in the early 1950s. It was designed by Frank Rainbow who had previously worked as a senior engineer at the Bristol Aircraft Company and used mostly Triumph running gear.

Sunday 19 May 2013

Road - The Flying Bunnet

Classic Team Lotus brought two Lotus 25 cars to Duns which staged a couple of nerve tingling, ear  enthralling runs up and down Newtown Street - and no crash hats, check out the fermer's bunnet!

Road - Faces in the Crowd

Clive Chapman with Ian Scott Watson one of the men behind Jim Clark, racing driver

Linda Cowan with Dougal Niven (saloon car racer) and former Mitsubishi World Rally Team boss, Andrew Cowan
One of Scotland's  best ever racers and twice British Touring Car Champ, John Cleland

One of motor racing's all time great photographers and the man behind many of the world renowned photographs of Jim Clark's early career - and an inspiration to many young photographers, Eric Bryce

Rally - Reign in Wales

Spotted spectating at the Club Lotus event in Duns was Euan Thorburn fresh back from the depths of Wales in the early hours. He and Paul Beaton had been down at the Plains Rally ahead of the Jim Clark Rally for a bit more 'match practice' ahead of the Jim Clark Rally. After a troubled start to his season, the Focus WRC behaved itself this time - well nearly. The turbo pipe split in the first two stages and he completed them without any boost, but once fixed, Thorburn was on fire. He and Paul won the rally by 3 seconds from Connor McCloskey. Now for the Clark.

Road - Lotus in Duns

After yesterday's series of torrential downpours, the weather gods smiled more kindly on the Club Lotus folks from all over the UK who had gathered in Newton Street in Duns to celebrate Lotus' first Formula 1 race victory 50 years ago, and rather more sadly the 45th anniversary of the passing of Jim Clark.

The early morning mist gave way to a warm, muggy and dull day with an air of quiet reserve emanating from a huge crowd of Scots and international visitors (many from Englandshire too) of somewhere well in excess of 2,000 interested bystanders, car enthusiasts and motor sports fans.

And then the almost eerie silence was pierced by the shrill bark of a 2.5 litre V8 in the back of a Lotus 25 chassis being fired up. It was pure magic. Then both cars gave the crowds a treat with a few full rev runs up and down the street.

Saturday 18 May 2013

Road - Another puzzle

No-one got that last puzzle pic, but that was my fault, it was rather an obscure detail taken at a very odd angle to give too much away. And it's not as if it came from an exotic piece of automotive desirability that would have us all lusting after it, nor are many of us likely to have a large poster of it on the bedroom wall.

It was a rather more humble Honda CRV.

Anyway, here's another more straightforwards pic. I spotted this parked outside the hotel at the Granite City Rally. And no, it's not what many of you first thought of, that is unless you are a serious anorak and really do need to get out more.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Event - Club Lotus

If you need a good excuse to escape from gardening this weekend, then members of Club Lotus are having their latest annual national gathering at Duns, this time to mark the 50th anniversary of Jim Clark’s and Lotus’s first Formula One World Championship.

Over the weekend of Saturday/Sunday, 18/19 May, up to 150 members and their cars will gather in Newtown Street on the Saturday afternoon before they head off for dinner in the evening.

On Sunday morning they will again gather outside the Jim Clark Room at 12 noon before forming a cavalcade to Chirnside Parish Church to lay a wreath on Jim Clark's grave before coming back to Duns for lunch. But there's a special treat in store.

Clive Chapman and Classic Team Lotus are bringing two Lotus 25 F1 cars up to Duns. Now owned by Nick Fennell and John Bowers, the two cars will be fired up and driven up and down Newtown Street a few times. And anyone whose neck hairs do not rise to the sound are either tone deaf or deid. There will also be the first Lotus Elan that Jim Clark drove and a Lotus Cortina.

Sounds like an awfy guid reason to give the garden a body swerve.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Road - Puzzle Solved

Don't know whether I've started something or not, but quite a few folk were left puzzled by last week's mystery car pics. I was going to reveal all on Sunday, but I got taigled up in something else, so here is a photo of the velocipede which I was driving last week. It is Vauxhall's new Adam, although Vauxhall claim it is not named after the company founder, Adam Opel. Both Fiat and MINI have scored quite a bit of success with their modern take on design classics, the Cinque Cento and the real Mini, but without a retro to re-model, Vauxhall have come up with their own take on the idea, much as Citroen did with the DS3. The Adam won't be to everyone's taste, but the women in the house think it looks cute. Me? I felt like I had been caught wearing a pink tutu and carpet slippers - with zips.

Apparently some of you thought last week's puzzle was too easy, so here's this week's. What did I drive to Fort Augustus and back?

The report for the Fort Augustus Gravel Sprint is now on the website:

Saturday 11 May 2013

Rally - Milne wins the Fort

Quintin Milne won the Stravaigers Lodge Fort Augustus Gravel Sprint despite the fact that he didn't do any of the afternoon runs. His time from his second run in the morning remained unbeaten:  "When I hit the puddle in the ditch this morning, I must have hit something solid," said Quintin, "it's damaged the strut and there's a rattle coming from the front end, so I didn't want to risk it any more with the Jim Clark Rally coming up."

The biggest loser was David Wilson who dropped from third to fifth as the battle for second place was fought out between the son and father duo of Steven and Henry Ronaldson. The Metro was double entered, but Steven didn't think his biggest competition was going to come from his Dad!

Such was their pace they both set their fastest times of the day on the final stage, crucially, Steven was just 8 tenths of a second quicker than faither. Henry had been getting quicker every stage but few would have predicted that he would make Steven sweat so hard.  So just how hard was Henry trying on that last run? As soon as he got out of the car he leaned his elbows  on the back of the pickup and lit up a fag.

Richie Ramsay adjusted the toe-in on the Subaru for the afternoon runs and found an improvement. So much so, he just nipped Wilson for fourth place, while Kevin Ronaldson made it three family members in the top six places when he got the Subaru home just ahead of the class winning Sunbeam of Kenny Wood.

And there was another surprise in store. Every class winner got a 50 quid prize from event sponsor Reay MacKay. But he's not really that daft, they'll spend all that and more in his pub at the party tonight!

Fastest times after 6 stages:
1, Quintin Milne, 1m 45.0s
2, Steven Ronaldson, 1m 47.6s
3, Henry Ronaldson, 1m 48.4s
4, Richie Ramsay, 1m 48.7s 
5, David Wilson, 1m 51.1s
6, Kevin  Ronaldson, 1m 53.1s
7, Kenny Wood, 1m 53.5s
8, Neil Morrison, 1m 53.9s
9, Calum Strachan, 1m 58.9s
10, Keir Beaton, 2m 00.2s

Rally - Fort fastest

It rained all the way from Lanarkshire to Fort Augustus early this morning, and then it stopped. That left the 1.2 mile stage at the Stravaigers Lodge Fort Augustus Gravel Sprint in slippery conditions. The stage itself is in a different part of Inchnacradoch Forest to last year's venue, and it's a tight nadgery affair, but very tricky.

Quickest after 3 runs this morning (although he only did 2) was Quintin Milne in the Lancer who set his best time onhis first run, much as Reay MacKay did last year on his first run. "I was in a ditch the second time," said Quintin, "if it hadn't been for the heavy duty sumpguard, I'd have been out!"

Second quickest was Steven Ronaldson, and although it has a Jaguar V6 in the back of the Metro in place of the original, it still sounds minted. Honestly, there's nothing better than the sound of a V6 rising and falling in the forest, first thing in the morning. It's better than a double shot of espresso. It would lift the spirits of a corpse.

Third quickest is David Wilson in the MkII and the only driver to have gone quicker each time out. "There's no way I can catch Quintin or Steven," said David, "and the road's cutting up now."

Neil Morrison is fourth fastest in the Sunbeam trying out a new 6 spd sequential box in places of the 5 spd dog box. "I used all six gears this morning," said Neil, "just to check that there's six in there!" 

Andy Horne was a non-starter. Pity, it would have been doubly good to hear his DAM in  the woods alongside Steven's Metro. "I just ran out of time to get it ready," said Andy, ""we've moved the petrol tank and the wiring just needs finished - but I don't do electrics." The chap who normally does this for Andy was in bed with the dreaded lurgy yesterday.

Fastest times after 3 stages:
1, Quintin Milne, 1m 45.0s
2, Steven Ronaldson, 1m 51.3s
3, David Wilson, 1m 53.5s
4, Neil Morrison, 1m 55.5s
5, Kenny Wood, 1m 55.8s
6, Kevin Ronaldson, 1m 56.4s
7, Ritchie Ramsay, 1m 56.9s
8, Calum Strachan, 1m 58.9s
9, Keir Beaton, 2m 00.4s
10, Brian Watson, 2m 02.1s

One more observation, what a cracking day out now that it's dry, Highland Car Club have laid on a superb wee event here in an ideal location. Who needs a TV link and F1 qualifying!
Just one wee problem, there's such a poor signal here I won't even try and put up any piccies.

Friday 10 May 2013

Road - Mystery pic 2

Crikey, I think I've started something! Yesterday's mystery photo flummoxed a few folk, so here's another clue. And no, it doesn't have a sun-roof, this is actually a shot of the interior headlining! I've got two correct 'entries' so far.

But what will I be driving to Fort Augustus tomorrow? I'll need to wait till the rain (sorry, Scottish summer sunshine) stops to get a picture.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Road - Daring day out

There was a new car in the drive this morning, ahead of a trip to Kelso. When I first saw it, I thought the paint had run or the seagulls were getting creative with their diet. Then I looked inside. I nearly went back into the house to get a disguise, so the neighbours wouldn't recognise me driving it. But no, it's all part of the 'personalisation' process - just not for me though.

One of the day's ports of call was at Hassington to meet the Buckleys, one of the UK's top rally car preparation specialists, and no doubt with a fleet of butch looking Mitsubishis and Subaru and Ford WRC cars gracing the workshops. All I needed was these highly trained and experienced rally engineers and technicians to see me turning up in this. Fortunately most of the boys were already on their way to the Isle of Man and another team to Italy. There were only two Doms in attendance, and they had the grace to be gentle with me.

 Any idea what it is?

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Rally - Kames off

Sunday's Rally Time Trial at Kames (May 12) has been cancelled. No real problems or issues, just insufficient entries to make it worthwhile.

Rally - Gravel Sprint

Full entry list for this weekend’s Stravaiger’s Lodge Fort Augustus Gravel Sprint is on the website now:

Sunday 5 May 2013

Rally - Kielder tales

Ruary MacLeod turned up at the Pirelli Rally finish and showed John MacCrone his in-car video clip from his accident early on Saturday morning. He nearly got away with it. Towards the end of the first stage, there was a downhill right over crest into fast left hander and Ruary got a bit of a tank slapper on: "I caught the first slide," said Ruary, "but I knew it was going to dig in and whip me across the road on the other side. That was the point I wondered whether I should floor it to pull it out or try and catch the slide again." but then the rear o/s wheel just caught the verge,m dug in and flipped the Fiesta.

"It's not too bad," said Ruary, "it's mostly plastic bits that took the brunt. The car will be ready for the Jim Clark."

John MacCrone is looking forward to the Jim Clark too. Referring to the Pirelli: "That was good, getting miles in the car and getting a feel for the pace of the others." As for the puncture: "I took exactly the same line I took on the first run through that stage," he said, "but a previous car had pulled a stone out and that was what caused the puncture. 7 other cars hit the same stone too. The mistake I made was thinking I could drive out on it."

He also let slip: "The car broke the front strut after the puncture and then on the last stage of the afternoon it broke a rear strut. That made his fightback from 13th to 5th all the more impressive.