04 April: Charterhall Chatter

Charterhall Chatter ….

Rallying can be such an uplifting sport one minute and then downright disheartening the next. Like Steven Hay’s debut for instance. He had owned his Vauxhall Corsa for five years and over the past 18 months had converted it into a rally car. During this time he was also helping his faither Colin to prep, maintain and service his Escort MkII, so if he was working on his Dad’s car he wasn’t working on his own. Anyway, with Pop taking more of a back seat over recent months, Steven could get on with his own build. So imagine the excitement of eventually getting the car to Charterhall – and the engine dies on him on the second lap, just after he had got it into third gear! Whether it was fuel or electrical, the boys couldn’t find it. End of rally. That wasn’t hail, it was frozen tear drops.

Garry Wilson appeared at Charterhall in a new car, the ex-Jimmy Girvan (from 2006) Mitsubishi Lancer to replace his Opel Manta. “I always wanted to try four wheel drive,” said Garry, “and thought about hiring a car, but reckoned it would be just as cheap to buy my own and then sell it afterwards.” Apparently he fair enjoyed himself, and finished just outside the top ten in 11th place.

It’s amazing what you find out if you’re nosey. Apparently, Douglas Humphrey’s sister is Emily Gray one of the top ‘drifters’ in Japan. She and her husband Andy Gray run a business out there preparing and competing in drift cars, and running drift-driver training sessions and ‘drift experiences’ for fans. Emily competes in the D1 Ladies League, but takes on the men at times and can give them a hard time on the track. Douglas spent a couple of weeks out there for his holidays and did a bit of drifting himself in one of the school cars. Maybe that’s why he did so well in Dad’s Opel Kadett, first time out in the car when he finished 13th overall, 1st in class and 2nd two wheel drive car at Charterhall. Check out Emily and Andy’s website at: http://www.powervehicles.com/

Dedication personified. That’s the guys from Skye. Neil Morrison and John McLeod had set off from Skye at midnight on Friday on the 250 mile trip to Charterhall. They did three stages before the gearbox started grumbling and they had to pack up, ready for the 250 return trip home on Saturday afternoon. According to John they had only had three hours sleep since Tuesday trying to get the Vauxhall engine Sunbeam ready!

Doug Bryden was spotted spectating at Charterhall. He’s been out of the sport since he bumped the Impreza on the Jim Clark last year: “I might be back next year,” said Doug who also plays football for Berwick Rangers, “but I’m out of football too at the moment. I’ve got a groin injury.” Maybe rallying isn’t so dangerous after all!

And as for the last ever motor sports event at Charterhall, who knows? Maybe not. Some parts of the old airfield are pretty much worn out but over the years rally organisers have managed to route the cars around the worst of it. But it’s not just cars that cause the damage, there are horsey type events on in the area and the site is used by horseboxes delivering their four footed cargo and parking up, while tractors come and go about their business on a daily basis. Anyway, with such a useful facility hopes are high to keep it going although restrictions may be applied. It may well be that ‘bigger’ events will not be able to be run, but scaled down rallies could still be on the agenda, especially for the likes of the Junior 1000 lads and lassies and Historic and Classic events. So, fingers crossed, and keep your ears open.

The catering vans had obviously underestimated the crowd’s appetite for rallying even in such cold weather. There was a burger van at one end of the service area with one cooking and one serving, and a donut van at the other with one lady on her own. The result was huge queues. Even when additional help arrived with extra provisions it did little to reduce the long wait for internal warmth and nourishment. Oddly enough I didn’t spot any hares racing across the infield – the spectators had eaten them.

And finally ….

I had to laugh when ‘Haudit and Doddit’ met ‘Laurel and Hardy’, or to put it another way, Dave Weston and Chris Birkbeck. It’s obvious the two of them haven’t worked on their own cars for a while, having other folk to do it for them! But when young Ryan pulled into service with a puncture on the Toyota Aygo, the two leapt into action like two elderly singers on a mission from God. First, they couldn’t get the compressor to fire up, then they couldn’t get the nut gun to work. Eventually they got the old wheel off and the new wheel on during which time the cold air was turning blue as already freezing fingers turned red raw from skint knuckles. Funny? I nearly dropped my donuts.

And finally, finally ….

I couldn’t resist this wee tale from the Border Counties. I only heard about it at Charterhall hence its omission from the previous News Roundup. Anyway, who is the bravest man in Scottish rallying? Or the most stupid? It could in fact be one and the same person, you decide. When Ian and Kathryn Forgan passed the Fiesta ST of Lachlan Cowan in SS2, which had its nose buried in a snow filled ditch, Lachlan was at the side of the road waving them on. But as the Ford Ka approached he turned around and dropped his troosers to ‘moon’ at Kathryn. Now considering how low the temperatures were and cold enough to freeze anything small, dainty and dangling, that was either a brave or a very foolish move on Lachlan’s part. Frostbite? Apparently such an affliction needs rather more exposed flesh than Lachlan was able to ‘wave’ at his rivals! Maybe he’ll put on a better show come the better weather!