Monte Carlo glamour revs up in Clydebank

He may be a proud Dundonian, but Douglas Anderson will be happy to head west to stand on the banks of the River Clyde on Sunday evening. He’s the man from the Caledonian Classic and Historic Motorsport Club who, last year, secured Glasgow as one of the starts for the classic Monte Carlo Rally in its centenary year.

It was a great success with more than 6,000 spectators watching as the 47 competitors set off from Blythswood Square for the 2,000 mile drive to the south of France in a re-run of one of the best-known motorsport events in the world since its creation in 1911.

Glasgow served as a start from 1947 till 1973 before it was revived last year.This year, Douglas and the rest of his organising team have had to move the start out of the city into neighbouring West Dunbartonshire after, they claim, Glasgow Council imposed conditions and charges to repeat the Blythswood Square start that they simply couldn’t meet. Clydebank jumped at the chance to stage a start, alongside Barcelona, Oslo, Turin, Reims and Warsaw.

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It’s believed the start brought £1 million into Glasgow last year but that’s unlikely to be repeated this time. The entry list is shorter, partly down to the general economic situation – it’s reckoned that to compete in the week-long event costs at least £10,000 – but also because the rules have changed. Last year, larger-engined cars were forced to start from one of the further-flung locations, including Glasgow, which meant entrants came from all round the world to start from Scotland. This year, there’s freedom of choice, so many have opted for one of the mainland Europe starts.

So, on Sunday evening, a group of classic Lancias, Triumphs, Porsches and the like will gather in the shadow of the Titan crane at Clydebank College before heading off for the glamour of Monte Carlo. There will be six Scottish entries, including a team under the banner of Ecurie Ecosse, the Edinburgh outfit that won Le Mans twice in the 1950s.

They’ll be led off by 72-year-old Ralph Forbes, from West Linton, with co-driver son Wesley in a 1978 Fiat 128. Alongside them will be a 1979 Porsche entered by Speed Scotland, the team behind the world land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah last year.

Before the start, there’ll be a parade of other classic cars on the theme of “Monte Carlo or Bust” and about 60 enthusiasts are expected to take their classics on a heritage run on the first stage of the official rally route.

Before that, on Friday morning, the competitors are expected at Knockhill Race Circuit in Fife to give their cars a shakedown before the big event. Once the cars set off to Dover on their way to the south of France, Douglas has just one last task… to head there himself with a bottle of the local 14-year-old Auchentoshan whisky to hand to Prince Albert from the people of Clydebank.

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