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Lineup at Heathhall

Ian Higgin's at Heathhall

Christoff Kulli at Loch Lomond

Meggat's at Loch Lomond

Ian Higgin's at Loch Lomond

Tim Hunt hood up at Loch Lomond

Barritt's  at Loch Lomond

Peter Meggat at the Rest and be Thankful

Start at Fort William

William Murray on circuit

Dave Heirs the Saab on track

Jock Millar on track in Midget

Mike Weaver Stag on the Rest and be Thankful

Theo Boonen TR7 on the Rest and be Thankful

McNeill Standard 10 on the Rest and be Thankful

Diane with her dog and matching bottle of finest malt whisky, Bruichladdich, from Islay - our thank you for a great drive up the Rest.

Ian Higgin's MGB takes the hairpin on the RBT
International Autoecosse - 1 & 2 June 2013
Report by Jim Paterson

Crews line up for the first test on Heathhall runway. Hear any inbound Lancasters?

Scotland delivered a great weekend with some superb weather and great routes for the 22 starters for the 2013International Autoecosse. Though entries were a down on previous years,a sign of the times perhaps, the route and venues were in the tradition of this event, taking crews across some of Scotland's finest B roads and to venues some may never have seen.

Starting at Heathhall airfield near Dumfries the crews who had taken the option of the special tests took to the old runway for two tests to blow away the cobwebs. A big thanks to South of Scotland Car Club who not only helped us by providing a signing on facility in the aircraft museum, but set up and marshalled the tests for us too.  Heathhall was used during the World War  2 to first store new aircraft before they were sent to their units, and then to train bomb aimers and gun aimers. Though long disbanded as an airfield the sound of roaring engines could be mistaken for the ghosts of incoming bombers.

The route from Heathhall led up to Auldgirth where we had stopped  on the Monte Carlo Historique back in January, that time on the way from the Glasgow start to Dover.  We then headed west to the Galloway Forest, then north to Dalmellington taking the B roads between Kilmarnock and Ayr to skirt the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park to Bridge of Weir, home of the famous leather works that supplies covers for luxury cars, boats, and aircraft. Soon the crews were reaching the River Clyde and crossing at the Erskine Bridge on their way to Loch Lomond for another couple of special tests, thanks to the Lomond Shores team for their help in providing this venue .

The fine sunshine enjoyed so far broke down for a while as a couple of showers spiced up the test route making the bigger cars, like Ellis Stokes in his Triumph 2000 kick out the tail. Mike Helm in his Triumph TR6 held it all together to secure fastest time for the classics on the two tests. Though Peter Musk was quickest in his Porsche he withdrew his result on the basis that modern technology traction control makes it so much easier.

With the sun returning those that had put their tops on decided to drop them again for the run along to Aberfoyle, up through the Dukes Pass to Callander, Crianlarich, Tyndrum and toward Glencoe. A magnificent drive through this highland Glen with its history of the 'massacre' back in 1692 never fails to take the breath away as you descend to the bridge at Ballachulish on the final run alongside Loch Linnhe to our overnight stop over at Fort William. James Meggat had a worried look on his face as his Chrysler Sunbeam had lost most of its oil on the way up from Loch Lomond.  Problem appeared to be a blocked breather tube causing back pressure to blow the oil back out the filler on the rocker box. To complicate matters the warning light was not working either.

A few of the hardy types then joined the Targa Bealach Na Ba night navigational event from Fort William to Inverness, while others took in the restaurants of the town for a well earned meal to finish their day.

The restart on Sunday morning found wall to wall sunshine and blue skies welcoming us to the old Kart Track at Fort William. Many of the crews answered a call for helpers to brush the track of debris and after setting up the cones we started with a test of two laps round the course. Mike Helm once again was in good form, but the little Standard 10 of Ken and Lloyd McNeill was giving a bit of stick as well. Andy Murdoch in his 1974 Mini Cooper, with David Noble on the notes, knows how to get a round a special test quickly, and would eventually secure the class prize at the end of the event. Christoff Kulli retired when he found his E Type brakes seized on when he started his car after breakfast. Good news for James and Peter Meggat. They had found the problem with the oil warning light, a broken spade connector, so were able to test the Sunbeam with a thrash around the track!

It was to be tops down all the way for the soft top brigade as the blue sky and sunshine stayed with us all the way to the finish venue. Next on our route was a visit to Oban famous for the distillery of the same name, and McCiag's tower sitting on a hilltop behind the town, looking like the Colosseum in Rome. Hugging the west coast going south the route then turned east alongside Loch Awe, a long single track section toward Inverary. More than a few potholes reported on this section meant keeping a sharp eye out to prevent a wheel being damaged.

From Inverary it was a short quick drive to the Rest and be Thankful in Glen Croe. This historic hillclimb which featured regularly in the fifties national hillclimb championship and latterly on stage rallies of the sixties and seventies, has recently been resurfaced. The club had organised the first 'Classic' event to use the refurbished road in April for the Argyll Classic and this was our second event to drive the road. A big thanks to Stephen and Diane for their generosity in supporting classic car events on the Rest. Earlier in the week they had welcomed some 250 Austin Healey's as part of their European tour, see article here.  While they had a rather wet drive we experienced continued brilliant sunshine for ours, not something you see too often in the mountains of Argyll.

Leaving the Rest and be Thankful we drove to Tarbert by Loch Lomond and north to Crianlarich and Killin. Taking the north side route along loch Tay we reached Aberfeldy, then the A826 Old Military road to Dunkeld.

The final section headed east toward Coupar Angus and Balbeggie to reach our finish venue at the Wheel Inn in Scone where we had a refreshing drink, meal and prizegiving.

Overall winner for the two days of special tests was none other than Mike and Gillian Helm in their Triumph TR6. Andy Murdoch and David Noble took the class 1 trophy, while Ellis Stokes and Keith Compton-Bishop lifted the class 2 trophy. For class 3 we again had a Triumph in the shape of the well prepared TR7 of Tim and Adam Walker. 

A raffle raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support raised £100 which together with the clubs contribution made a total of £200.

Download full results of special tests HERE

Lineup at the Wheel Inn Scone

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Updated 19 June 2013