Time for change
In the early 80s, the financial operations of the circuit were becoming challenging and with crowds dwindling and entries in decline, the circuit was on the brink of collapse. In late 1982 Hugh McCaig, the Patron of Ecurie Ecosse, stepped in to inject some cash and take over the running of Ingliston. For 10 years, Hugh ran the track with author Graham Gauld and Walter Robertson initially. This reinvigorated the racing scene and decent crowds started to return helped by the addition of new series and some rounds of National Championships.
In May 1980 the BMW Counties Cup saloon championship arrived from England for a round. Notably, famous motorcycle racer Barry Sheene raced in it in his first ever car race at Ingliston. He was on pole after practice and won the race, though he was a guest so scored no points.
Formula Libre was a championship that really grew at Ingliston in the 1980s, with a wonderful array of single seater machinery. Drivers of note included David Leslie, who went onto race at Le Mans and in the BTCC, racing the Hope Scott Garage Ralt RT4 Formula Atlantic car and he won the Libre title in 1980 racing against drivers such as David Duffield, driving an earlier Ralt RT1 run under Hugh McCaig’s Caledon Coal banner, and the rapid Geordie, Andy Barton, in his March.
Many Scottish championships covering saloons, sportscars and single seaters, as well as the unique Clubmans cars, with John Fyda and Kenny Allen, have come and gone during these times. Road Saloons started in the mid-80’s at Ingliston, and proved to be hugely popular, they carried on for over a decade, with the final race at the circuit in 1994 being won by Edinburgh garage owner, Robert Thomson, in his pink Vauxhall Nova. These cars had to be road legal, run on road tyres and could be driven to the circuit, but engines were modified. The first race saw just 6 cars but it soon gained serious momentum. By 1984 Hugh McCaig’s Ecurie Ecosse had a Vauxhall Chevette HSR, and persuaded 6 times British Rally Champion Jimmy McRae to drive it on several occasions, the first being his racing debut. He power slid the car around and diced for the lead later that year with local doctor, Hugh Chalmers, who had raced for many years and had become a circuit expert in his Lotus Sunbeam. Jimmy passing Hugh round the outside of Arena went down as one of the greatest moments in Ingliston’s history and is a fond memory of many who watched it.
In 1983 former motorcycle racer, Derek Butcher, bought a Caterham Seven and started racing it at Ingliston. Having sold his business Derek would go on to own Knockhill Racing Circuit within a year and developed it into the only full time race circuit in Scotland.