Tuesday 31 August 2021

Bo'ness Revival Hillclimb

Confused? If you keep an eye on the Scottish Association of Motor Sport Clubs website and particularly the Calendar of Events section you may have noticed that this year's Bo'ness Revival Hillclimb meeting scheduled for the 4th and 5th of September (this coming weekend!) has been cancelled.

Oh no it hasn't.

Although the 'Bo'ness venue has been cancelled, due to Covid reasons, it has been replaced with a new venue at Forrestburn near Shotts. So this year's Bo'ness Revival will go ahead as planned this Saturday and Sunday but not at Bo'ness. Got it?

Perhaps someone forgot to tell Raymond the Calendar-Keeper about the change, but anyway with little in the way of rallies this weekend, those of you who need a motor sporting 'fix' could do worse than take a gander at this unique event at its new 'one-off' location. Spectating is much better at Forrestburn than Bo'ness simply because you can see virtually all of the track from the top of the (exposed!) hill, but this being high Summer in Scotland the frostbite should be less severe than when 'Le Jog' passes through in the Winter.

Car parking is limited at Forrestburn (turn immediate left when you come through the gate) so don't be  too disappointed if it gets awfy busy.

As well as Covid, another reason for the re-location is just to keep the wheels turning for this enthusiastic bunch of classic car and race car enthusiasts and also to introduce a new three year sponsorship deal. The event is being sponsored by Cask 88 which is an independent bottler of Scottish whisky and cask ownership dealer for those who fancy the idea of buying bulk whisky in the wood rather than in the glass.

In fact Cask 88 has produced a rather special single malt called 'The Bo’ness Hillclimb “The Moose” Austin Special'. Quite a mouthful for a label but this 14 Year Old Loch Lomond Croftengea was laid down in an oak cask the year that the Bo'ness Revival Hillclimb was founded. And as for the 'The Moose' part, that of course doesn't refer to anything big, hairy and Canadian with horns, but more of the wee sleekit cowering timorous beastie type cratur and was the nickname given to a highly successful Austin 7 racing special way back in the day.

The entry list of some 60 cars or so features a fairly eclectic gathering of machinery from Austin 7s to Ford Anglias, Stutz and Alvis, Mini Marcos and E Types, and even a few 'historic' single seaters.

Sadly no whisky tasters will be offered, even if it is cold enough to freeze the bollards off a traffic island.

Monday 30 August 2021

Road - The day job

By goad that wis a tough week, last week. Folk think the life of a motoring journalist is easy. Far from it. This is one of the hardest most intellectually demanding jobs on the planet assessing and appraising a variety of very different machines. Only the strong willed and independently minded could cope with the stress and anxiety. And if patience is regarded as a virtue then the fortitude and absolute godliness of a country vicar is essential.


Driving around mid Scotland may sound idyllic, and of course it was, but encountering and dealing with foreign tourists in hire drive cars and other eedjits who don’t know how to use a single track road can fire up tempers quicker than a blast of nitrous oxide. And then there are the perils of the once-a-year caravan towers and nervous motorhome drivers who have no idea of the size of the vehicle they are supposed to be in charge of.


Of course, mention must be made of the local worthies - the 'I live here brigade' who drive at warp speed on the basis it's my road so get out of my way. I'm sure I encountered one such curmudgeon who bore an uncanny passing resemblance to a former co-driver who now runs a fleet of buses in Aberfeldy!


And then there are the Press Packs and Technical Specifications which have to be read and digested. Sometimes the information contained in Press Packs gives all the appearance of being written by those who are paid by the word as opposed to those who are genuinely excited and enthused by the product which they are promoting.


Don’t confuse the 'serious' motoring writer with the entertaining antics of those voluble tyre screeching eedjits on motoring TV programmes who laugh in the face of bent panels and  burnt clutches. Nope, the serious folk would never entertain such bluster, eh?


And all the while keeping a watchful eye out for the cyclists, tractors, sludge gulpers, speed signs and advisories, and of course, the Polis.


Aye, it’s a tough life richt enough. Surely one has to feel sorry for such tortured angst ridden souls, eh?


Even just a teensy wee bit?

Friday 27 August 2021

Rally - Trouble on the horizon?

Trying to keep one's mind on the day job (and that's difficult, I so want a V8 Defender)! but yesterday's post provoked quite a bit of comment and reminiscing, although it's not just the withdrawal of permission to use certain forests that could threaten the future of stage rallying. There could be an even bigger threat hirpling over the horizon - arthritis.

Next time you are at a rally just pay a bit more attention to the volunteers, officials and tabard wearers. There is a distinct lack of youth and vigour amongst their ranks, more a manifestation of experience and world weariness. It's obstinacy and passion that keeps them going. For instance, I'm sure there are Scroots out there who learned their trade on steam engines and checked the tread on quadruped's horseshoes!

To those who have never organised a rally, it's dead easy. To those who know better it provides a constant source of amazement that so many amateur volunteers continue to give up so much time, and often at their own expense, to provide a sport for others in which to participate and even more to spectate.

And  it's not just the workload, it's the responsibility that comes with it, plus working with Forest & Land Scotland personnel, other landowners, local authorities and local by-law compliance, and of course the Police. And then of course there is the Blue Book, that invidious and diffuse tome of rules and regulations devised by the very Devil and his disciples.

MS UK are right to encourage youngsters through their Academy and to continually try to attract more participants to the sport and raise the profile, but they neglect the silent army at their peril. We don't just need new blood in the organisational side of the sport, we need to retain it, train it and nurture it. And we all need to show a bit more appreciation.

Car clubs also need more support. That's the main reason there is no rallying in Perthshire these days. We lost the Hackle Rally because 55 Car Club is not as big a club as it once was and Coltness CC found the effort of running an event in these forests just too much for a team based some 90 miles away.

Nope, it ain't easy, and it ain't for the faint-hearted. Look at it another way, if every volunteer over the age of 50 gave up tomorrow there would be no more rallies.

Thursday 26 August 2021

Rally - Pilgrimage

Once upon a time the forests around here echoed to the sound of Twin Cams and BDAs, flat fours and Vee 6s, the whoops and chatter of thousands of excited voices thronging the undergrowth and the more muted banter of race suited crews who gathered and conversed at Stage Starts with a mixture of accents and languages. It's so very different today. Quiet, empty and in some ways desperately sad. Will these forests ever hear those sounds again, or see the sights that are forever etched in the memories of those cheering thousands? Highly unlikely, eh?

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Back to the day job

 Sometimes the day job is just a teensy weensy wee bit better than other days!

Monday 23 August 2021

Rally - Grampian Classes Roundup

That's the roundup up of all the Scottish Rally Championship classes now published in the on-line mag with notes on most of the crews. Apologies to those un-noted, it was a huge service area and difficult to get around everyone. Besides some folk were awfy busy whilst others sat back with their feet up and had time to chat although a shy few hid themselves away in motorhomes and vans. Not to mention the fact that under Covid rules everyone was avoiding personal contact and keeping respectful distances away from each other - after all what would one expect on a warm, sweaty day, rampant with excess adrenaline and testosterone?




Saturday 21 August 2021

Rally - Grampian Forest Rally report

That's the main rally report from the Grampian Forest Rally now published in the on-line mag. Matthew Wilson and Elliott Edmondson won the rally from Osian Pryce and Noel O'Sullivan, and Rhys Yates and James Morgan, but there were no Scots on the podium this time.

Five of our lot finished in the top ten on last month's RSAC  Scottish Rally, but only two made it on this time. Garry Pearson and Niall Burns were 6th with Jock Armstrong and Cameron Fair 8th. Title contender Freddie Milne is still in the hunt, but for the full story see below:

And here's an interesting wee fact. There were 25 Fords of the R5/Rally2/WRC persuasion, 3 Hyundai i20 R5s, 2 Skoda Fabia R5s and 2 VW Polo R5s in the entry list.

Dust was a feature, but not a problem this time. Mind you, the midges made a late season appearance, no doubt stocking up on Marshal's blood ahead of Winter (just round the corner!) and they were accompanied by their pals, the clegs! Rallying in Scotland holds terrors in the forest like no other, eh?


There's more to come with more detail and more Info in the Classes Roundup - work is underway.

Monday 16 August 2021

Rally - Tailpiece Two

 Definition of a dilemma - When you need to 'go' and the sign says 'no'.

Sunday 15 August 2021

Rally - Grampian Tailpiece

" 'ello, 'ello, 'ello, what's goin' on 'ere then? Is this where the dead bodies are buried? "

Or might it be -

" Which way to the Customer's Complaint Department? "

With apologies to those involved, I saw this yesterday at the Grampian Forest Rally and couldn't resist the pic!

Saturday 14 August 2021

Rally - Wilson wins Grampian

Matthew Wilson and Elliott Edmondson won today’s Grampian Forest Stages Rally after a scintillating drive over 45 miles of the north east’s most famous forests.

Osian Pryce snatched second place when Matt Edwards suffered a misfire caused either by fuel or electrical problems. He thought it had been fixed at second service but the problem resurfaced in the next stage. Rhys Yates fought back to claim 3rd place after his earlier pop-off turbo valve problem on the first stage.

Garry Pearson and Niall Burns set stunning times over the final two stages to claim top Scottish Championship points from Jock Armstrong and Cameron Fair. Armstrong had suffered front end damage in SS3 blaming unfamiliarity with LHD cars! Sterling work by the Buckley crew used up a whole bundle of cable ties and new parts to restore the Fiesta’s looks but there had been a little more damage than first suspected and he dropped back behind Pearson.

Freddie Milne and Jamie Edwards also set some blistering times in their fightback to claim 3rd SRC points after a troubled SS1 when the Fiesta was off the road no less than 3 times. Freddie said that was down to trying too hard too soon. However, complete brake loss courtesy of a fluid leak cost them more time in SS4 but still managed to finish 13th o/a.

Michael Binnie and Claire Mole split the R5 and World Car ranks with 16th place on the Lancer Evo9 and Mark McCulloch and Michael Hendry finished top 2WD in the Escort Mk2 with 25th place o/a.

Donnie MacDonald retired at the end of the first stage when a circlip came off the clutch inside the gearbox! Keith Morris got stuck in a ditch explaining “the speed was good – but the corner was too tight!” Willie Paterson broke a driveshaft on the start line of the first stage and he was gone while young Finlay Retson managed a stubborn finish after a gritty drive. He was off on the first stage, the ECU overheated on SS2 and the Fiesta went into road mode and had a puncture in Fetteresso.


1, Matthew Wilson/Elliot Edmondson (Fiesta R5) 38m 49s

2, Osian Pryce/Noel O’Sullivan (Polo R5) 39m 09s

3, Rhys Yates/James Morgan (Fiesta R5) 39m 27s

4, Keith Cronin/Mikie Galvin (Fiesta R5) 39m 28s

5, Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes (Fiesta WRC) 40m 17s

6, Garry Pearson/Niall Burns (Fabia R5) 40m 17s

7, Cathan McCourt/Brian Hoy (Fiesta) 40m 38s

8, Jock Armstrong/Cameron Fair (Fiesta R5) 40m 42s

9, Sam Moffett/Keith Moriarty (Fiesta R5) 40m 44s

10, Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta WRC) 40m 57s

13, Freddie Milne/Jamie Edwards (Fiesta R5) 42m 12s

16, Michael Binnie/Claire Mole (Lancer Evo9)

18, Bruce McCombie/Michael Coutts (Focus WRC) 42m 33s

19, Ian Forgan/Chris Lees (Fiesta R5) 42m 36s

21, John Wink/Neil Shanks (i20 R5) 43m 11s

Friday 13 August 2021

Road - Ford Transit Custom Trail

Once upon a time, vans were quite simply a box on wheels. An automated beast of burden offering little in the way of creature comforts. The other big advantage was they were cheap! Not any more.

Vans can no longer be considered simply as functional commercial vehicles, they can replace the more traditional commuter, leisure, family, business runabout with one major advantage over their saloon car counterparts, they've got a huge boot. Ideal for man stuff, and woman stuff, and baby stuff, and leisure pursuits, and of course, work!

Which is where the Ford Transit Custom Trail comes in. Personally speaking this is one of the most desirable light commercial vehicles on the market. There's just one tiny wee thing stopping me, the price. There's no such thing as a cheap van any more, even the used van market is short of supply and prices are rising.

Ford are partly to blame for this. When they introduced the first Transit over fifty years every other light commercial vehicle manufacturer had to raise their game. The race was on. More recently, the legal requirement for more crash protection and built-in safety measures has further added to the cost while at the same time reducing payload! And that was another problem.

Anyone for a cargo bike?



Monday 9 August 2021

Rally - Grampian Forest Rally Entry List

Full entry list and short preview for this Saturday's joint SRC and BRC Grampian Forest Rally now in the on-line mag. 

Unfortunately, this will still be a NON SPECTATOR event. It would appear that the local authority has not revoked  the order which effectively closes the forests to all but rally cars, crews and officials from midnight on Friday 13th till Noon on Sunday 15th.


Friday 6 August 2021

Rally - Budget rallying

Just a thought ... Over the years we have had some pretty good one-make budget rally competitions and championships with possibly the original Peugeot 205 Challenge being the best of them. At the time there was a plentiful supply of bent and broken cars and 'shells cos of the eedjits flee'in off the road through hedges and fences with scrap yards, sorry, vehicle recycling centres providing a veritable haven for weekend 'gold' seekers.

Of course the supply started to dry up and folks looked for replacements with the Peugeot 206, Fiesta, Nova/Corsa, MG, Micra, Daihatsu, and of course the various Mini formulae, offering a replacement competition base, but none had the staying power of the 205.

With rallying becoming ever more costly, not just for cars, but all the greasy bits and black round rubber bits, perhaps a new budget series could be found and Niall Cowan Snr might just have a worthwhile idea.

He appeared at the RSAC Scottish with his latest creation a 'new' shape MG3, but the cunning chap had fitted MG ZR running gear. Now since the engine is based on the Rover K series there seems to be a lot of them still about so it could form the basis of a 'budget' rally car with either the 1400 or 1600 engine as the basis.

Apparently roadworthy donor MG3s can be picked up for 2 grand (or less) and Niall reckons a car could be built for no more than 7 or less depending on sources.

The new car has a slightly longer wheelbase and sits slightly taller than his previous MG ZR but Niall reckons it feels quite stable and is just as much fun. And not meaning to be cheeky, if Niall can build one, then it should be within the capabilities of anyone who can tell a socket from a ring spanner.

Anyway, just a thought, and a wee bit cheaper than an R2! Worth considering, anyone?