Monday 31 January 2022

Rally - Awards Night

There were a few marauders from the far north in London (near France) a few days back at Motorsport UK’s annual Night of Champions held at the Royal Automobile Club.


Presented by Steve Rider and Hannah White at the invitation of David Richards CBE, Chair of Motorsport UK, the star-studded guest list included Sir Jackie Stewart and newly appointed FIA Vice-President for Sport, Robert Reid, amongst many others.


Motorsport UK awarded Sir Jackie its Lifetime Achievement Award to acknowledge the enormous contribution, the three-time Formula One World Champion has made to track and competitor safety since the 1960s. Involved in a serious accident at Spa-Francorchamps in 1966, Sir Jackie became an advocate for motor racing safety, which included pressing for mandatory safety barriers at circuits, seat belts for all competitors and full-face helmets.


Never one to miss a free meal and some booze, the RSAC's Jonathan Lord also attended this glittering event. He received the second tier of the governing body’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021 in recognition of more than 40 years’ volunteering service to the sport. A Motorsport UK Steward since 1978, he has represented Scotland for many years at Motorsport UK on Rallies Committee and the Motor Sports Council. The Scot has been an International Clerk of the Course since 1982 and still actively attends events in many roles.


There was however one other rather important guest missing, one James S McRae Esq. Whilst we were all shovelling snow or cutting up fallen trees in storm struck Scotland, he was sunning himself in Spain and having to endure temperatures of 19 degrees. I almost felt sorry for him!


In all fairness, he did phone his son Stewart back home in Scotland and asked if he should come back for 'the do' but Stewart telt him: "Stay where ye are, it's freezin' here!"


Also in the photo is Hugh Chambers CEO, MS UK - he's the one in the middle!

Sunday 30 January 2022

Road - Electric Cars

Funny thing happened on the way to the public chargers. The two free chargers were out of order, but the third one which charged 30p per kWh was operational. 

Just bad luck or a deliberate Government ploy? 

Suspicious? Cynical? Me? Surely not!

Thursday 27 January 2022

Rally - Start your Engines

The news that Entries are now open for this year's AM Phillip Trucktech Snowman Rally on Saturday 5th March is like the first snowdrop of spring - an early sign that the good times are coming. In other words the KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship is now sitting in the garage warming up, and ready for the call to action.

This year Highland Car Club have moved the rally Start & Finish venue and Rally HQ to the Black Isle Showground facilities at Muir of Ord on the northern side of the Bridge. This provides one easily accessible location for all those involved and has also helped to create a very compact route comprising 5 special stages totalling around 43 miles of forest roads.

Entries close on February 18th although late entries may be accepted for those who are still struggling with that last troublesome nut and bolt and skinned knuckles.

The first car gets underway on Saturday morning the 5th March at 09.00 Hrs and is expected back from 15.35 Hrs.

Regulations & Entries here:

This year's KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship will comprise 8 events:

Mar 05, The AM Phillip Trucktech Snowman Rally, Inverness

Apr 23, McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages, Elgin

May 29, Beatson's Building Supplies Jim Clark Reivers Rally, Duns

Jun 24/25, Dunoon Presents Argyll Rally, Dunoon

Jul 23, RSAC Scottish Rally, Moffat

Aug 13, Grampian Forest Rally, Banchory

Sep 10, The Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally, Castle Douglas

Oct 22, Carlisle Stages Rally, Kielder

Regulations & Registration forms here:

Tuesday 25 January 2022

Rally - Monte Roundup

There's a brief roundup of last weekend's Monte Carlo Rally here if you want all the main points in one short report, courtesy WRC Media, and thanks to M-Sport for the pics. It'll get you in the mood for next month's Swedish!


Saturday 22 January 2022

Rally - 2022 STRC Dates

The 2022 Burnside Piling Contractors Scottish Tarmack Rally Championship gets underway next month with the first round at Knockhill on Sunday 20th February. 


Full list of dates here:


Friday 21 January 2022

Gaun yersels ladies ... Without wishing to be politically incorrect, or even sexist, it's well worth noting that there were two young ladies in the top three positions overall at the end of last year's Marshall Construction  Scottish Tarmack Championship. 

Kirsty Mochrie was the overall Scottish Tarmack Co-Driver's Champion while Amy McCubbin finished 3rd. Alistair Inglis was the overall Driver's Champion but regular co-driving brother Colin missed out on the Co-driver's title due to 'agricultural commitments' - I think his window box needed weeding!

The final results were confirmed recently, as the method of scoring points is way beyond the likes of me on this class based championship, so had to wait for official confirmation that  Kirsty had done it - an achievement that World Champion Robert missed out on by the way.

So as far as achievements are concerned, some would have it that Kirsty's success far exceeds Reid's. All he had to do was keep Richard Burns on track, Kirsty had to cope with her auld git faither and the self-built and maintained 1 litre Metro. Keeping him shiny side up in that wee buzz bomb must have taken some doing - or an awfy big stick!

Looking ahead, the Scottish stage rallying season fires up next month but if entries for the Riponian & East Riding Stages in  North Yorkshire are any indication then things look a wee bit more hopeful for up here. Ripon Motor Sport Club have 132 entries and 15 reserves (so far) for their event on Sunday 6th February.

The 44 mile, 6 stage event also includes a couple of miles of tarmac but the main reason for that is that they link up some smaller forests and cut down on public road use.

The event also counts towards the MS UK British Historic Rally series plus some other regional championships like the ANCC, ANWCC and S G Petch stage championships so there's a lot to go for.

Closer to home, the Kinloss Stages at Kinloss Army Barracks close by the Moray Firth on Saturday 12th February will officially get the 2022 Scottish season underway. This is a brand new venue for the sport and the Condor Motorsports Club reckon the tarmac surface is better than many of the public roads in the area! The organisers are planning a 6 stage / 52 mile format with NO splits! That means each stage will be around 9/10 miles long.

More info here: and on their Facebook page.

Funnily enough I got some schtick from a couple of folk for initially referring to the venue as RAF Kinloss but this was simply because a couple of other numpties thought it was a typo for Kinross! One actually thought it was referring to the 'T' in the Park site at the old Balado airfield in Fife. Just proves you can't please all the folk all of the time.

Anyway, a week later the new-look Burnside Piling Contractors Scottish Tarmack Championship takes to the stage on Sunday 20th February at Knockhill. This will be the first round of this year's 11 round championship series. More info shortly.

Saturday 15 January 2022

Gavin Heseltine, 1956-2021

I've only just heard, but sad to report but another good man gone. Gavin Heseltine passed away last month on the 23rd December. A stalwart of North Humberside Motor Club he was better known to us up here as Allan McDowall's regular co-driver, first in the Opel Kadett, then the Escort Mk2 and back to the Kadett. Together  the pair contested over 130 rallies although Gavin's career started some 40 years ago navigating for a variety of drivers from the Snowman in the north to Somerset in the south and everywhere in between including Ulster and Wales.

In 1988, Allan McDowall entered the Border Counties in his Kadett with a TBA in the co-driver's box. He was introduced to Gavin through a mutual friend and stepped into the unknown. Allan recalls that within 4 miles the Kadett was parked up with its tail in a Kielder ditch and they both sat there thinking the very same thought: "What the heck have I let myself in for!"

It was probably the first time that Gavin had been in such a quick car and Allan was already regarded as a handy driver. He had fitted a new Astra 16v engine and 15 inch wheels for the Jim Clark Rally earlier in the year but he was running ex-Murray Grierson and Jim Carty part worn tyres. The bigger wheels were fouling the front arches so the car was a bit of handful although they did manage to get out of the ditch having dropped only a couple of minutes and went on to finish 8th, right behind the previous year's Border Counties Rally winner, one Andrew Wood Esq!

A new partnership was born. They enjoyed much success culminating in winning the 2006 ANCR Clubmans title and 2011 BTRDA Silver Star Championship. Their final outing was last November's MAM Malton Forest Rally where driveshaft failure denied them a finish.

Perhaps the most odd thing about Gavin's competition career is that he did not have a driving licence. He travelled the length and breadth of the country by train or blagging lifts from other competitors and according to Allan, "he was never late - although the same couldn't be said for me!"

However he did hold a Provisional licence at one time and had taken a few lessons but had never taken the process any further, although passing his test and buying a car was on his 'bucket list' for when he retired from work.

The lack of driving licence didn't hold him back. He was part of a hard working team within NHMC taking an active role in the planning and organisation of the club's three single venue rallies and acted invariably as Secretary of the Meeting or Entries Secretary. He was also heavily involved in the running of the North Humberside Forest Rally. He also undertook much of the club's paperwork including editing the club magazine.

Outwardly a quiet thoughtful man, he had a number of nicknames which indicated a wilder streak. He was sometimes referred to as 'the Viking Warrior' or 'Hagar the Horrible' but had a rather less well known nickname 'the Gazelle'. It is alleged that in the dim and distant past on a snowy event in Yorkshire the car he was in eventually got stuck having been off some 3 or 4 times already. Gavin decided to walk out of the stage looking for help but couldn't walk in the road because of oncoming cars and was trudging through the deep snow at the sides. At one point he feared for his life when an out of control car appeared to be coming straight for him at which point he recalled himself that "I leapt like a gazelle across the ditch and into the trees". A remarkable feat given his physical girth, and a tale which he oft-repeated against himself, with each re-telling of the story becoming more outrageous. In moments of stress Allan would often turn to Gavin and ask,"what do we do now Gazelle?"

Gavin became ill in mid December and passed away peacefully at home. He was only 65. He'll be a sad loss to his family, his many friends, and particularly to Allan, North Humberside MC and to the wider sport of rallying.

Wednesday 12 January 2022

Road - 'Smart' Motorways?

Driving through Glasgow this morning, I came across a car parked up against the armco just beyond the M77 interchange on the approach to the Kingston Bridge. There was no 'safety' lane there and although the hazards were flashing it looked an awfy worrying place to get stuck with traffic whizzing past and lane-changing.

At a time when politicians, government departments and civil servants are coming in for  a hard time, and rightly so in many instances, it's good to see one department responding to public disquiet, albeit rather later than some folk wanted and have been campaigning for.

The Department for Transport has announced that it will halt the rollout of new, all-lane running smart motorway schemes until they have amassed five years of relevant safety data. On that basis, the Government’s decision in March 2020 that all new smart motorways will be all-lane running motorways was premature. Hopefully their experts and statisticians will also look at the issues of 'Dynamic hard shoulder' and 'Controlled motorway' schemes.

Although not a problem in Scotland (yet!) many of us have experienced these so-called 'smart motorway' sections down south, especially around the NECC at Birmingham at exhibition times. From a personal point of view, they give me the heebie jeebies, especially when an eighteen wheeler with foreign plates thunders past!

Current figures suggest that these roads are safer, but without full statistics, there must be some uncertainty. For sure casualty rates have dropped since their introduction, but fatal and serious injuries have increased.

So how long will this new review take to amass five years worth of data and report its findings?  Depends on when they start!

Past experience suggests that some of these folk are not the best timekeepers in the world. Meanwhile I'll just have to put up with the heebie jeebie

Friday 7 January 2022

Rally bred road car


This is a 'teaser pic' of Toyota Gazoo Racing 's new FIA WRC inspired GR Yaris with deep front dam and huge rear wing which will be shown at the Tokyo Auto Salon customised car exhibition next week (14-16 January).