BTCC gears up with anniversary cavalcade

Local hero Gordon Shedden aims to close the gap at the top of the BTCC leaderboard at Knockhill next weekend. Picture: Dennis Goodwin/Network Images
Local hero Gordon Shedden aims to close the gap at the top of the BTCC leaderboard at Knockhill next weekend. Picture: Dennis Goodwin/Network Images
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There are likely to be hold-ups on the Forth Road Bridge next week.

No change there, you may say, but this coming Thursday delay will draw an enthusiastic crowd and, unusually, there will be some happy faces among those being held up.

That’s because at the head of the queue on 21 August will be no fewer than six of racing legend Jim Clark’s cars, along with four of the latest examples from the British Touring Car Championship in the hands of Scots drivers currently contesting the national competition.

The event being held is to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the bridge, which coincides neatly with the 50th anniversary of Clark’s BTCC title triumph.

Alongside current drivers, including former champion and this year’s contender Gordon Shedden, Glynn Geddie, Aiden Moffat and Dave Newsham, will be another former champion, Borders Jaguar and Volvo dealer, John Cleland.

Driving over the bridge will be two single-seaters, two Lotus Cortinas and two early cars driven by Jim Clark during his career. They’ll set off at 11am but will be on show in the south car park at South Queensferry from 9.30am.

Cleland is excited at the prospect of taking the wheel of a two-door DKW Sonderklasse, the first car Clark ever raced in the late 1950s. It’s an unlikely racing car, with its 896cc engine developing only 34 bhp, but Clark got the most from it.

“It’s an honour to drive anything Jim Clark competed in and while it would have been fantastic to get into one of the single seaters, this is a real privilege,” says Cleland. “The car must have been something in its day. It’s certainly not a looker so it can only have been attractive because of its performance and speed in Jim’s hands.”

After the parade, which is one of 11 special events in the coming month, all the cars will head to the Knockhill Racing Circuit to be the centrepiece of a display commemorating the venue’s 40th birthday.

They’ll then take to the circuit for a parade on both the Saturday and Sunday of the British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill next weekend (23-24 August). Drivers and their cars from over the past 40 years have been invited back and will form a display at a 50-metre long marquee which will include archive footage on large screens.

Knockhill is the seventh event in the 11-round Championship, which this year is proving to be one of the best ever, with a record 31 cars competing. No fewer than seven BTCC champions will be on the grid, including local hero “Flash” Gordon Shedden, currently lying in second place in the standings and looking to seriously challenge the leader, Ulsterman Colin Turkington.

Understandably, Shedden, who is corporate business development manager at Knockhill, is looking forward to taking to his home track.

He says: “It’s the one time each year that I get the opportunity to race in front of my home crowd. Scottish fans really love their motorsport, and touring car racing has been a big part of that over the decades.

“The atmosphere around the circuit is second-to-none. The crowds get so close to the action they can almost touch the cars on their way around the lap, which is just incredible.

“I know the circuit well, so I’m determined to get valuable points to challenge Colin and narrow the gap between us.

“The crowd are always unbelievable and can hopefully inspire me to some special results. It’ll be a great weekend, especially with all the historic cars on display”.

Everyone booking tickets for the Knockhill Touring Cars event and quoting the code JimClark50 will see 20 per cent of their payment go to the Trust Fund to develop the Jim Clark Museum at Duns in the Borders.