Today, Sunday 8th September, saw two car clubs with serious hardware and heavyweight skills do a test session at the Kames racetrack in Muirkirk in East Ayrshire.
As the Argyll Classic and Sporting Car Club members rolled up…
… the West Coast Time Attack team, familiar with the Kames circuit, were there waiting for them.
Dave Shaw of Time Attack did familiarisation laps of the circuit for any of the Argyll club who wanted a look-see before taking to the track themselves.
To help us in checking out the best places to catch the cars on the circuit, Dave did a one lap recce with us on board – followed by three fast laps for real. He obviously knows the track well, carving sharp fast lines through a series of challenging bends and gunning it hard on the straight. A custom machine, Dave’s car is fitted with four motorcycle carbs and it can’t half perform.
Examining each other’s kit while getting ready to go, the blokes went all gynaecological again. This gorgeous custom-painted Healey is always a magnet. Open any bonnet in company like this and stand back to make way for the crowd.
In the Cafe / clubhouse, David Alexander got everyone signed in, helmeted and with a Hi-Vis vest for yours truly, about to duck and dive with the camera in the grassy centre of the track.
The cars lined up at the start, with only one car permitted on the track at any given time. They don’t time the laps on test days. They suss out the well surfaced and maintained clockwise track [although it can be run counter clock] and then give it as good as they get.
The young guns of the West Coast Time Attack Club show the way to go. This one took a corner with the front offside tyre almost buried in the tarmac and the diagonal rear one all but lifting off.
The Argyll Classic and Sporting Car Club guys were no slouches and here the BMW Z3 got to terms with the track in pretty short order. The rasp and gurgle of engines and the screams of deceleration are compelling.
The smart BRG Mazda Eunos was doing fast laps in no time, coming out of the slow top corner and lifting off down the straight.
The Honda S 2000 repeatedly stung the track into submission, fast into the corners and even faster out of them. It has a variable valve system that lets it rev at 9,000.
Now – who has not lusted after a Morgan? This glorious Plus 4 2.0 was described by John Buchanan, President of the Argyll Classic and Sporting Car Club, as ‘just three weeks out of the box’. Its owner, John Mason from Balloch, wasn’t initially sure that he would take it on the track because it’s still working up. However, he was second out and we can testify that he was flying. John Buchanan awarded the Morgan the prize for the day, on the grounds that she deserved to be kept in the manner to which she would rapidly become accustomed. It was a bucket of ‘beauty products’ for a car – a comprehensive car cleaning kit – provided by Michael, Manager of Halfords of Braehead, donated by the store, sponsors of today’s event
The 3.8 Jag Mk 2 hung on hard to the corners, a lovely car having a lot of fun trackside.
John Buchanan’s own Triumph Stag was never going to be left out of the game and showed off its own classic lines to Kames with some verve.
Those waiting for their place in the rotations on the circuit kept their eyes impatiently on the clock.
The second Healey out for the day, also in great condition, showed its paces.
And the Honda S 2000 kept on coming.
Back at the starting line, this group proved just how responsive the young bucks of Argyll would be to the opportunity a track of this kind would provide – and it is achieveable. If it was in Campbeltown, it would draw people to the town and down to the Mull of Kintyre. If it was in Inveraray in would draw business from a range of directions. If it was in Oban, the Susie Woolf connection would put fuel in its tank. If it was in Dunoon or Helensburgh, both have additional conurbations on their doorsteps, Dunoon with Inverclyde a ferry ride away; and Dumbarton almost an extension of Helensburgh.
Meanwhile [nostalgia] boys did what boys do – invent challenges for themselves and answer them with enviable balance and coordination.
The views from the Kames track make it an attractive place to be. Today’s opportunity for the Argyll Classic and Sporting Car Club members to do a test session there was the inspiration of their President, John Buchanan, who is also building productive links with the West Coast Time Attack club.
The Argyll club is a new one, born from the former Friends of the Rest Club, bringing its regular sponsors with it, Deanston Distillery and Walkers Shortbread and, in a stroke of genius, adding ‘sporting’ to ‘classic’ cars. This is making for a lively hybrid of a club, with everyone interested in each others machines.
The club has already done a special hill climb in Glen Shira by courtesy of the Argyll Estates. Now it has done a test session at a race track. Who knows what’s under the bonnet for next time?