Tuesday 28 November 2023

Racing - Knockhill - The Book

More reading material … As if one book designed to trigger the old memory box wasn’t enough, along comes another one, this time from Stuart Gray at Knockhill, and what a trip down the memory pit lane and racetrack that provides. It nearly brought a tear to my eye.

The ‘Knockhill 50 Years of Racing’ book will mark the circuit’s official 50th anniversary next year and is available now. You can order online, phone Knockhill on 01383 723337 or pick up a copy from the Circuit Office.


I’m still working my way through it because every few pages I have to stop and have a ponder. In fact I had to buy a box of Kleenex Man-Size tissues just to cope with the multiple flashbacks as I flicked through the pages, recalling the names, remembering the sights and re-imagining the sounds.

What some of you may not know is that I used to commentate on some of the early race meetings at Knockhill, long before it became Scotland’s National Motor Sport Centre. Back then, individual car clubs ran the meetings while the circuit provided the venue, so there was no ‘resident’ individual commentator. As a race reporter for ‘Motoring News’ I was often asked to provide the commentary and that led on to commentating on rallies when the circuit hosted special stages or complete rallies, so the circuit means a lot to me.

But amongst the memories that Stuart’s book has stirred up was one where a bloke called Andy Jeffrey was racing in the Production Saloon Car class at one race meeting. Andy was a car dealer in the far east (Edinburgh area) and mixed in dubious company (including one J C Cleland Esq) and so I knew him quite well. Well enough to indulge in the tiniest wee bit of slagging about his driving prowess.

Anyway the race ended, and as Andy’s BMW pulled up in the Pits, the door was flung open and a wee figure jumped out still wearing its crash helmet and stomped over to the circuit barrier, vaulted it and strode purposefully across the track heading for the chicken shack on stilts (the original commentary box) then across the grass to climb the shoogly ladder to my elevated position where he proceeded to harangue the aforesaid commentator about his bias, disrespect and criticism of his excellent car control and skilful racing manoeuvres.

Apparently, Andy had been driving with his window down and had heard every word over the circuit loudspeakers because the Production cars were all virtually silent!

Now it has to be said that I accidentally and inadvertently – to be sure - kept the microphone open so the vast (?) crowd heard the slagging match that was going on in the commentary box throughout this discourse on Andy’s driving ability and the commentator’s colourful race descriptions.

I can’t imagine that being allowed these days, Derek would have a fit, but Andy and I remained pals after it – I think!

Knockhill has certainly changed out of all recognition since those early days a tribute to Derek and his hard working team and one of which they can all be proud. Stuart’s book charts the progress and the rise to become one of the country’s most accessible circuits providing the best spectating opportunities and some of the best racing in the country whether on two, three or four wheels.

You know what? I have to admit Stuart’s book is nearly (very nearly!) as good as mine. But then of course, I’m biased – just ask Andy Jeffrey.

And if you want to beat the Christmas post, best act sooner rather than later:


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