Saturday 28 November 2020

Rally - Bedtime reading

The latest issue of 'UK Rally Scene' magazine is available now, but there is one thing missing - a 'Readers Letters Page'. If there was such a thing then the old trusty steam powered typewriter would have been fired up to send off a stiffly worded critique of this current issue.

It was like being sent a tabletop rally through the post. Follow the clues and find your own way round. There is indeed a list of Contents inside the front cover, but the infuriating thing is, not every page in the mag is numbered!

Either this a very subtle diabolical ploy on behalf of the management to wean us off the grit and glamour of special stage rallying and on to the more politically and environmentally acceptable and brain tickling sport of navigational road rallying. Maybe they know something about the future direction of the sport that we don't!

Or maybe it's more simple than that. Whereas the younger readers will easily find their way through the pages with their double jointed 'Dirt' exercised dextrous thumbs, the aulder gits will be left fumbling in their wake trying to follow the numbers. In that way the older readers could be put off and the style could revert to a more youthful appeal and attract a more relevant audience.

Only kidding. It does seem though there is more reading in this issue, and that's a good thing, we've all got more time on our hands these days. Amongst the gems there is one stand-out article. It's about 'Ivor the Driver.'

Whether it's true or not, there is another story told about the man that is the stuff of legend, or fairy tales. It was way back in 1976. He had a beat up old 1300cc Avenger on that year's RSAC Scottish Rally but he had already marked himself out as a man to watch. The story is told that that the out of puff wee Avenger was passed by three cars on the long, twisting climb up the mountainous Drummond Hill stage - and then Ivor re-passed them all again flying across the top and down the other side!

Whatever, I choose to believe it.

As usual, the mag is only a fiver and available on Ebay, so go look for it. There's some good bed time reading in there.


Tuesday 24 November 2020

Funeral Details

Gordon Hastie’s funeral service will take place at 11am on Friday 27th at Stirling Crematorium.  Sadly, Covid19 restrictions mean that only close family will be able to attend. People will be allowed to stand outside the crematorium if they choose, although the audio of the service will not be relayed through the outdoor speakers - as this "may encourage gathering - and social distancing must be maintained by those who attend".


However, the service will be broadcast live online at:


Username:  Foki6880

Password:  227155


The same link should take you to a recording after the weekend which will be available for 28 days for people who can’t attend at the time.


The family have also created a 'Just Giving' page as an alternative to a collection at the service, raising money for Maggie’s Centres who have provided tremendous support to the family over the past 19 months, and continue to do so.

If you want to donate please visit:



Sunday 22 November 2020

Rally - The Bear Cub comes of age

Mainstream and social media alike are currently full of tributes to a lost hero. And rightly so, although it's hard to imagine that it's exactly 25 years since Colin McRae won the FIA World Rally Championship.

But up here in the far north we tend to celebrate a little bit more. It was exactly ten years before that title clinching, memorable Rally GB victory in a 'works' Subaru that he contested his first stage rally in a borrowed car. From a club event at Kames in 1985 to World Champion in 1995. It took just ten years. Remarkable.

However, this was no solo effort. It was a 'team' effort. Mum and Dad were with him every step of the way and Derek Ringer too was a fearless guiding force in those early formative years.  Derek 'the Professor', like Colin and his Dad, were members of Coltness Car Club, better known as 'The Bears'.

Within the club were a group of individuals who ferried a young Colin to and from Autotests till he was old enough to get his own Driving Licence and then his Competition Licence to contest that very first rally at Kames.

He got his own Talbot Sunbeam just ahead of the final rally of the year, the Galloway Hills. The world had no idea what was about to hit it. Head on. His attack on the Galloway Hills generated interest and his antics further endeared him to the Scottish fans the following year when he contested the Scottish Rally Championship.

Principal amongst that early band of supporters was Big Barry who seemed to be constantly straightening bent metal and repairing broken engines, gearboxes and axles to keep that poor wee Sunbeam in excellent fettle and latterly accomplished the same superhuman feats with his Vauxhall Nova.

In his first full season of competition Colin finished 18th overall in the National series  but amongst his trophies at the end of the year Scottish prizegiving was one rather special award - a glittering, glossy, golden 'Jaggy Bunnet Flying Brick' presented to the year's hardest trier.

After the ceremony he went looking for the Championship Co-ordinator to have a word: "This isn't gold, this is a brick, a house brick. It's been painted!"

"Of course it is," came the reply, "In this country we make Irn Bru from girders and trophies from bricks."

Although he laughed, it was apparently one of his proudest trophies. He hit the sport of rallying like a brick too, eh?

Thursday 19 November 2020

John Gordon Hastie, 1949 - 2020

John Gordon Hastie, 1949 - 2020

Another dark day for Scottish motor sport. Very dark. Gordon Hastie passed away on Tuesday 17th November. He had been coping with cancer for almost two years but in typical Hastie fashion had made plans. In the early days of the disease he and his wife Vicki decided to go travelling and visit places and do things they had often talked about, but never got around to actually doing.

This was the Chartered Accountant in him, he planned everything meticulously and they had a ball. They even went back twice or three times to places they really liked!

This was the Hastie I knew, and I mean no disrespect referring to him by his surname. 'Hastie & Fifey' may sound like a terrible music hall double act but it was one which worked well during Esso Petroleum's sponsorship of the Scottish Rally Championship throughout the 1980s into the 90s. 

I first met him in the early 1970s. In those days whenever you saw the names Margaret Fulton and Gordon Hastie on a road rally entry list you knew that first place had already gone and with the likes of David Black and Ross Finlay, Charlie Brown and Neil Turner, Ken Wishart and Brian Hunter around, the rest of us mere mortals reckoned there was little chance of even getting a sniff of silver polish let alone getting our hands on a trophy at the end of a night's work.

Although he competed primarily in Scotland winning the Scottish National title in 1975 and '76, he contested the 1974 National Indoor Rally Championship run by Ford Rallye Sport finishing Champion Navigator and way ahead of some well established household names.

The transition to forest rallying was accomplished with ease and confidence and he co-drove in the early days for Andy Kelly and Colin Valentine and others, but perhaps better known for teaming up with Alistair Brearley, first in the Sprintex supercharged Opel Manta and then the Metro 6R4, which was also supercharged - as if it didn't have enough power already!

Throughout this period he was a member of Scottish Sporting Car Club, became a life member and was club secretary before becoming club President. He also helped to establish the Trossachs Rally as one of the best rounds in the national series and which ran at the end of the season.

He also managed to serve time on the Scottish Rally Championship committee first as Treasurer and then as Chairman. His was the voice reason balancing the Co-ordinator's voice of potential mayhem. And yet they worked well together.

He was generous, tolerant and patient especially with a Co-ordinator who needed to be kept in check during the 13 years of Esso involvement in the Championship. His was the calming and considered influence over more outrageous ideas and flamboyant suggestions. In fact, he could be infuriatingly sensible and meticulous, and even more annoyingly, often correct!

He also managed to fit in duties as club and event Steward on all types of event from autotests to hillclimbs, sprints to race meetings, navigational and stage rallies and even kart races. More recently, his work as a Competitor Relations Officer on Scottish rallies and ten years on the British Rally Championship right across the country also brought him into touch with younger and more inexperienced rally crews where his knowledge and experience were put to excellent use assisting them in the pursuit of their sporting dreams.

Representing Scottish interests he served on the RAC MSA Rallies Committee for ten years and was a member of the RSAC Motorsport Development Group.

He worked for a number of accountancy firms in his early years before joining Fleming Thermodynamics Ltd in 1985 as company secretary, the company which designed and manufactured the Sprintex Supercharger. Having been made a director of FTD, he moved on when the company was sold to 'foreign interests'.

His final motoring appearance was on last year's 'RSAC Three Lochs Classic' with former Sprintex designer and MD, Dan Wright, in Dan's 1995 Aston Martin DB7 6i and they won the class prize.

He was a thinker, a planner and a doer. There have been many times since then when a certain Co-ordinator, organiser and journalist would phone for advice on sporting matters and always a considered and thoughtful opinion was provided.

I will miss him, we'll all miss him, but none more so than Vicki, his two 'boys' Colin and Ross, their immediate family, close friends and the many hundreds who met and worked with him over many years. Our most sincere condolences to them all.

Note: There's a longer and more personal tribute in the on-line mag at:


Monday 16 November 2020

An interesting tale

An interesting tale ... or maybe not, but it's amazing what you find when you're rummaging around looking for something else. And yes, there is an ever so slight rallying connection.

Way back in 1981 the Gomba Stonefield factory in Cumnock, Ayrshire, was planning to contest the 1982 Peking to Paris Rally with one of their 4x4 trucks. Co-sponsor for the planned attempt was the Edinburgh based independent commercial radio station, Radio Forth.

As part of their deal, one of the station's DJ's, one Chris John Esq, would form part of the four man team. However, 'Chris John' was actually none other than hillclimber and sprinter Chris McGuigan (the one with the beard!), so there would at least be some racing competition experience in the squad if not rallying!

Anyway it didn't happen. Stonefield was just another casualty of Scotland's many failed attempts at the motor manufacturing industry and yet another example of Development Agency inexperience and Government interference. Sadly, factors which are still all too prevalent today - think ferries and airports!

Founded by Jim McKelvie, who incidentally was instrumental in launching Volvo commercial vehicles in Great Britain, Stonefield was building a range of 4x4 and 6x4 trucks for commercial and military use. With a payload of 1.5 to 3 tonnes depending on spec, the trucks were powered either by a 3 litre Ford V6 with Ford 3 speed auto or a 5.2 litre Chrysler V8 with Chrysler 3 speed auto and both utilising the Ferguson four wheel drive transmission.

The truck had a lot going for it. The forward control cab ensured a flat rear platform on which could be mounted a truck bed or personnel carrier.

Sadly, the company went into receivership in 1980 when the Government pulled the plug on its involvement, so a buyer was sought. They chose wrong. The company was sold by the Scottish Development Agency in 1981 for £350,000 to Gomba Holdings Group on the assurance that production would stay in Scotland. It didn't.

The whole thing got even more messy after that. Abdul Shamji, the millionaire buyer was later jailed for 15 months at the Central Criminal Court in London for lying during a court inquiry regarding other financial matters. Apparently he claimed he had no Swiss bank accounts, but the court found he had at least six!

In one of the most damning statements ever made by a British judge, Judge Richardson told Shamji: ''When it came to those bank accounts you lied like a trooper.''

In other words, when it came to the Scottish deal, someone failed to apply the required 'due diligence', eh?


Thursday 12 November 2020

Rally - Funeral Arrangements

A private family funeral for Phil Walker will take place at Warriston Crematorium on the afternoon of Friday the 13th of November at 4pm. Sadly it has to be private given the current Covid19  restrictions which are in place.

However, a webcast has been arranged for those who may wish to 'be there' from afar. For details of this Webcast, please contact William Purves funeral directors 0131 552 5007.

Road - Toyota GR Yaris

Toyota has got its mojo back, and it's good to see. 25 years after its World Rally Team got a severe rap on the knuckles, the arrival of Tommi Makinen has provided a blast of fresh Scandinavian air. At the present time the Toyota Gazoo Team and Elfyn Evans are on the cusp of history. Could a Welshman be added to the WRC Champions roll call which already lists a Scotsman and an Englishman?

Whatever, Toyota Gazoo's success on stage and track is now being transferred to its road cars with Toyota doing a bit of 'reverse engineering'. The company is turning a motorsports car into a production vehicle.

The company has introduced the GR Yaris which has been developed directly from it's World Rally Car featuring a specially developed platform, a new 1.6-litre, three-cylinder turbo engine producing 257bhp and 360Nm of torque, and it's 'GR Four' adjustable all-wheel drive system. Weighing just 1,280kg, it can dispatch the 0 to 62mph dash in 5.5 seconds. That kind of puts the heat into 'hot-hatch', eh?

On one of his recent enforced 'day's off' Elfyn Evans debuted the car at Goodwood SpeedWeek. “It’s great, it’s a whole load of fun and really does feel like a rally car in miniature,” said Elfyn.“I’ve driven some hot hatches in my time, but not a ‘homologation special’ like this and I can tell you I am very, very impressed. It’s a kind of a raw driving experience, but the great thing is it’s a car you can use day-to-day, then play with the settings to make it like a genuine rally car.”

“There’s loads you can do to set the car up for yourself,” he added, “that’s one of the things that really surprised and impressed me. Toyota has really tried to bring in elements from the rally car and it’s worked. And on top of that, the power is very, very impressive from such a small engine.”

Commenting on the Goodwood experience, he said: “A twistier stage would have let us find out more about what the car can do, but from the drive I had it is fantastic. There was one section of the rally stage where you had to come in and drift the car in a 360-degree donut. The first time, I didn’t know what to expect. I yanked on the handbrake and it drifted perfectly – I was so happy I could still be there doing it now.”

The GR Yaris is available to order now at £29,995 for the standard car, £32,175 with the Convenience Pack and £33,495 with the 'Circuit Pack'. 


Wednesday 11 November 2020

Rally - Mull Special

The November edition of Mull's answer to 'Scottish Field', 'People's Friend', the 'Sunday Times Magazine' and the 'Broons Annual'  is out now and as the cover states, this is a 'Rally Special' edition in recognition of the sad fact there was no 'big' rally in Mull this year. 14 pages of the 40 page issue have been devoted to the history and recollections of many of those involved including Neil Molyneux, Andy Jardine, John Clayton, Duncan Brown, Ross Williams, 'Callum' and of course, my big pal Jaggy.

And it's only £1 for acres of reading. If you fancy a copy, there might still be some left and can be posted out for 3 quid.

Details on the website at: