Borders revved up over TT race bid

PETROLHEADS rejoice. Scotland could play host to its own version of the renowned Isle of Man TT motorcycle festival under plans to hold a public road race in the Borders.

The proposal, which boasts the working title “Race of the Reivers”, has already garnered considerable support in an area with a long-standing affinity for motorsports. Organisers claim it has the backing of local politicians, racers and race teams as well as fans of the sport.

The Race of the Reivers, named after the region’s audacious cross-border raiders, would include a series of TT (Tourist Trophy) races featuring a range of superbikes and a sidecar event. It would be held on an 11.1-mile course starting on the A68 at Jedburgh, roaring along the A698 and the B6358 before heading back to town.

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Andrew Hadwin, one of those behind the plans, said he aimed for a modest start so as not to “stand on the toes” of more established events in the racing calendar.

He said: “The idea is new and we feel that it could be a success, but obviously a softly, softly approach would be the way forward. The race format would hopefully consist of a supersport race and a superbike/superstock race on a Saturday with the chance of fitting in a supertwin 650cc and sidecar event. This would keep the event small enough as not to stand on the toes of established race meetings like the Northwest 200 or the Isle of Man TT.

“However, it would be hoped that it could generate interest from racers and others and be used as a tester for large events or track racing by teams until it becomes an event in its own right.”

Hadwin said he had already been in talks with Scottish Secretary and local MP Michael Moore, who had been “very receptive”, as well as representatives of the sport in Ireland, who are keen to see a race set up in Scotland.

He added: “The whole idea is about showing what the Borders can offer and to show things can be done. There’s a lot of doom and gloom about at the moment, so let’s turn it around and do something positive that shows what Scotland can offer.”

It is hoped the race could attract as many as 30,000 visitors to the area, potentially bringing in millions for the local economy.

John Moffat, a spokesman for the Scottish Auto Cycle Union, the governing body for motorcycling, said: “Without doubt there would be considerable local benefits gained by the local communities. The Scottish Borders would indeed make for an excellent venue on a number of factors, the most notable being the road terrain and, not least, the long history that the Scottish Borders has with motorcycle racing, Jimmie Guthrie and Steve Hislop to name but two local heroes from the Hawick area.”

TT racing began in Britain in 1907 when a handful of thrill-seekers travelled to the Isle of Man to test their bike racing skills on public roads, away from the prying eyes of the authorities on the British mainland.

Since then, the event has evolved into the world’s premier road racing festival, attracting bikers from around the world, and thousands of their most ardent fans. Travel across the island is almost impossible during the event as so many roads are closed for races.

In the Borders, motorsports come a close second to rugby when it comes to beloved sports. Steve Hislop, one of the area’s most famous sons, was an 11-time Isle of Man TT winner and two-time British Superbike champion.

Born in the rural village of Chesters, Hislop was revered for the skill and courage of his racing style. He died in July 2003, aged just 41, when the helicopter he was piloting crashed into a remote hillside in the Teviot valley. A bronze statue in honour of the man known affectionately as “Hizzy” has pride of place in Hawick.

Hawick was also the birthplace of the legendary Jimmie Guthrie, who triumphed in the Isle of Man TT six times and was a leading sporting star across Europe in the 1930s. A dispatch rider the First World War, Guthrie died while competing in the 1937 German Grand Prix.

Yesterday, representatives of the sport’s governing body in Scotland warned that there is a “plethora of legislation” to overcome before the Race of the Reivers can become a reality and said that plans to establish an event in Scotland were still in their infancy, although support was strong.

If the event does get the go ahead, it will be Scotland’s first road race. Most racing north of the Border currently takes place on closed circuits and off-road venues.