Last pit stop for the Coulthard museum

HE DATED a string of models, lived a champagne lifestyle in Monaco and is one of the biggest Scottish sporting stars to stride the world stage.

But now a tourist attraction dedicated to David Coulthard has been forced into a permanent pit stop.

Over the past 12 years, thousands of Formula One fans have visited the David Coulthard Museum in his home village of Twynholm, in Dumfries and Galloway.

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But now the chequered flag has come down on the Kirkcudbrightshire visitor attraction for the last time, its heartbroken curator admitting it would take a "miracle" for it to reopen.

The exact circumstances which led to the museum's closure remain a mystery, but it is believed that visitor numbers tailed off as the driver's career slipped down a gear before he retired from racing altogether last year.

Coulthard superfan Wendy McKenzie took over the running of the attraction, which had previously been maintained by members of the Coulthard family, as a labour of love in 2005.

She confirmed that the venture has come to an abrupt, and seemingly permanent, halt.

McKenzie said: "It is with a very heavy heart that I have to announce the closure of the David Coulthard Museum.

"Short of a miracle, it won't be re-opening to the general public again".

In an online message to fellow Coulthard fanatics she wrote: "I have found the circumstances just a little too much to take. As you are probably aware I have struggled all the way through this, but after a lot of heart-searching I have come to the conclusion to move on with my life.

"Thanks to everyone and remember that my dream was to get David Coulthard back on the map where he belonged and in some ways I think we managed that."

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The museum was a treasure-trove of memorabilia from the Scot's long career, ranging from his first karting trophies to some of the actual F1 cars in which he won 13 Grands Prix and a British record of 535 championship points for Williams, McLaren and Red Bull.

Similarly, the adjacent diner hosted a series of successful and lucrative race day brunches where fans could watch Coulthard in action with members of his family.

The website laments: "There is a feeling that the small village of Twynholm and Scotland as a whole are losing a national treasure that has drawn in loyal fans from all over the world during the past 12 years."

Coulthard's younger sister Lynsay, who helped to run the exhibition for several years, said there was a glimmer of hope. "David is sad that the museum is closed.

"He is rightly proud of his achievements and the things he has collected over the years and is keen for them to be on public display. If the right person came along then we couldn't rule out starting it up again."

The office administrator with the family haulage firm Hayton Coulthard said one possible option might be to broaden its appeal by including items relating to other Scottish racing legends like Sir Jackie Stewart and the late Jim Clark and Colin McRae.

Margaret Thorpe the proprietor of Twynholm's Star Hotel, where the driver has been known to pop in for a tipple when in town, was disappointed to learn of the closure.

"It helped put Twynholm on the map and its closure will be a real loss."

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Over the years, Coulthard has been a byword for success both off and on the track. The square-jawed driver, who is now a BBC racing pundit, was associated with a series of glamorous women including model Heidi Klum and socialite Lady Victoria Hervey.

The 37-year-old has now settled with fiance Karen Minier and the couple have a young son, Dayton.