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Ian Scott Watson

We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of a very dear friend, Ian Scott Watson. Ian had a long-standing history with the club. Former Chairman Graham Gauld has prepared the following article, looking back Ian did have a lot of influence on the sport which may have been forgotten in the present day. We send our deepest condolences to his family.

I was saddened when I heard that Ian Scott Watson had died at the age of 93, not just because it was the passing of another old friend but because his role in the development of motor racing in Scotland has always been underscored because, basically, he was a very modest man.

So what did he do that was so special ?

Well, when I first met him and a young 19 year old Jim Clark some 68 years ago, the weather was cold, there was snow on the ground and the Edinburgh University Motor Club were holding a driving test meeting on the old Drem airfield. Young Clark was impressive on the snow in his Sunbeam Mark III and it was Scott Watson who decided to do something about it.

Ian bought an unconventional front wheel drive DKW powered by a three-cylinder two stroke engine which Ian always proudly defended as six cylinder in disguise ! He raced it himself and then, in 1957, entered young Clark for a sports car race at Crimond circuit in Aberdeenshire where Jim finished last!

But it was Ian Scott Watson who persuaded Jock McBain, the original founder of the Border Reivers team, to restart the team by contributing to the purchase of a D type Jaguar

A test day was held at Charterhall where Jim Clark, Ian Scott Watson and former Reivers driver Jimmy Somervail were let loose. Sadly Ian, who always wore glasses, found that he had difficulty with his vision on the bumpy track and realised there was no way he would be able to race the D type.  Then, after about the second race meeting Jimmy Sommervail sportingly retired from racing when he realised Jim Clark’s potential so leaving the car for Jim to race : and we all know what happened after that.

Ian formed the Border Motor Racing Club and fought the Winfield Joint Committee to be allowed a date on the Charterhall calendar and then reformed the original Scottish Motor Racing Club into which he merged BMRC and created the club you are a member of today.

But Scott Watson was not finished. When, in 1964, the RAC hinted that Charterhall would not get a track licence for the 1965 season the race was on to find an alternative.

Lord Bruce led a consortium that considered two sites but it was Ian Scott Watson who approached the Royal Highland Society and persuaded them, with the financial backing of John Romanes, that a circuit could be built using the perimeter roads on their Ingliston Showground site.

I was always grateful to Ian who brought me in on the project recall Ian and I standing looking at the original layout of the short circuit and then speculating as to an extension that would include the spur down to, and back from, the hairpin.

Ingliston transformed motor racing in Scotland, hosted rounds in a number of British national championships and created the wave of International Scottish racing drivers we have seen in the past fifty years.

Though a farmer by birth and profession, Ian always had an interest in house design formed Border Design Centre and not only was responsible for design work on houses but racing circuits. He was involved in circuit projects in Scotland and Ireland but such was his faith, and innocent trust in people, he lost most of his money with pie-in-the sky promotors who were not able to take things beyond drawings.

He then joined forces with former Ecurie Ecosse driver Bill Mackay in a yachting venture but that too withered on the vine.

We will all remember Ian as a fairly happy go lucky kind of person who, sadly, lived the life of a hermit in a house he designed and built on family land, having left his brother to develop the farming interests.

A visit to Ian’s house was an adventure in  itself as you had to shovel books, papers and half drawn plans on to the floor in order to sit down and he never could make a decent cup of tea !  In later years his eyesight let him down and after a few brushes with his cars he ended up with a mobility scooter.

We all owe this modest, often daft, but dedicated motor racing enthusiast for the International reputation Scotland holds today in fostering World Champions in Formula 1 and sports car racing. Though his direct influence in the sport may be forgotten or unknown to young Scots in racing, those of us who knew him will never forget the sacrifices he made to follow his dream

Graham Gauld


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