Ingliston reviving

by Ed Foster on 15th May 2017

Ed Foster took his one-of-a-kind classic to the Ingliston Revival – and made it back

An hour-long journey can be fraught with difficulties if you’re in a car of a certain age. Especially if it is a one-off special built by Jack Fisher a couple of years before Ingliston Circuit was a glint in Scott-Watson’s eye. It was my father’s first ever race car and is a wonderful mix of parts: a pre-war 1.5-litre, overhead cam, four-cylinder Riley engine, an MG steering rack, a Lancia back end and Tiger Moth fuel tank all clothed in a fibreglass Mistral body.

It was never reliable in period (hence, I think, my father only ever did sprints and hillclimbs with it), but having been rebuilt by local man Alf Hughes it has proved remarkably trustworthy. What better place to test the new-found reliability than with a trip to Ingliston’s second Revival on the outskirts of Edinburgh?

The oil pressure crept up if we cruised too quickly and much of the journey was spent screaming at each other thanks to the gearbox whine and astonishing wind noise if you’re the wrong side of six-foot tall. We also used every open bit of road to try and work out some rough speeds off the rev counter with a GPS app. There’s no speedometer, or fuel gauge for that matter.

A small hole at the bottom of the header tank meant that there was a steady spray of water in the engine bay when we arrived, but by that time the temperature was higher than it had ever been. Not that it took any time at all to get into the circuit (unlike the Royal Highland Show) – we were in and parked within 10 minutes of crossing the bridge.

Having not been the year before I had no idea what to expect. I’d seen lots of photos of racing at Ingliston, and listened to my father’s stories of competing there (“if you made a mistake it was usually a very expensive one”), but never traced the old track myself.

Sadly, nowadays there is a building on the old track before the Esses but event director Sandy Bloomer is keen to keep opening up more of it. For this weekend the competitive sprints went from a startline on the Esses round Caravan, round Southstand and then down to the hairpin before heading back up to Southstand and round the hairpin again.

The sprint cars were split into five classes depending on engine size and the mix of car was as eclectic as some of the driving standards. Some of the entrants were quite clearly racers while others took a more relaxed approach to racing lines and it was not unusual to see an FIA MGB soon after a Mallock Mk6B and a Pilbeam MP43. Not long after that there might be a Maxda MX-5, or a Ford Mustang, or a Westfield, or a Porsche 944 Turbo S. As I said, an eclectic mix.

The problem Scotland has always had is that there simply aren’t enough racing cars up here. With that being the case events need to draw competitors from hundreds of miles away. The Revival will do that, but it’s not quite there yet. There were 6000 visitors on (a very wet) Saturday and the organisers were hoping for more on (a very sunny) Sunday. There were some stalls, a vintage cinema, a band, a few food outlets and a fairground. Oh, and a Paul Swift stunt team doing a remake of The Italian Job with three original minis, two of which crashed into each other (excellent viewing).

Two-time BTCC champion and recent podcast guest John Cleland was there on Sunday and it’s good to see support from big racing names. A part of me hopes the event will only get a little bit larger – it has a wonderful club atmosphere – but in order to survive it has to expand and attract more paying punters. Might that depend on getting the rest of the track open and trying to use the full circuit which closed 25 years ago? It was dangerous by the standards of the period so trying to get approval for proper racing is perhaps wishful thinking.

The Ingliston Revival, as it is now, is a great little event and Bloomer’s energy and enthusiasm will hopefully make it a long-lasting one.

The journey home? The Fisher Riley ran like clockwork…

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