Sir Jackie with Lady Helen Stewart who thoroughly enjoyed the weekend.

About a month ago the Sir Jackie Stewart  Classic took place at Thirlestane Castle, a few miles south of Edinburgh in Scotland.

It was an event modelled along the lines of the Goodwood Festival of Speed and was linked to the Borders Vintage Car Club which was celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The BVCC has held an annual historic get-together for some years but on this occasion, the event was linked to Jackie’s Race Against Dementia charity and with the backing of Rolex it certainly attracted a large crowd.

What must be remembered is that despite all the success of Scottish drivers and teams, motorsport rarely gets much coverage in the Scottish press, so when an event where many of Jackie’s grand prix cars were either on show or running on a short hill climb course it is a major attraction.

Jackie’s idea was to try and gather together some of the key racing cars he had driven since his debut in racing in 1961 and bring them to Scotland. As a result, there were a trio of Tyrrell Formula 1 cars including the original Tyrrell chassis that was sent by the Tyrrell family and various BRMs that Jackie had raced thanks to the support of Paul Owen, grandson of Sir Alfred Owen owner and backer of BRM for many years.  

There were two Matras he raced, a grand prix car and a Formula 2 car which had been brought over from France and many of the earlier cars he raced such as the John Coombs lightweight E-type Jaguar now owned by Shaun Lynn, the Formula 3 Cooper with which Jackie won the Monaco Formula 3 event in 1964 sent by John Cooper’s son Michael Cooper, and the one of the Chequered Flag Lotus Elans.

However, the piece de resistance was the very first car Jackie Stewart ever raced, the Marcos GT built by Jem Marsh and styled by aerodynamicist Frank Costin which Jackie ran for the first time at the Charterhall airfield circuit in April 1961.

Today the car is owned by noted Italian collector and historic racing driver Matteo Panini and he and his friend Carlo-Maria Giudici brought the Marcos all the way from Modena, Italy to the Scottish Borders which marked the first visit of the car back to Scotland for over 60 years! 

Carlo-Maria Guidici, Douglas Niven, Jim Clark’s cousin, and Matteo Panini pose on what is left of the old Charterhall racing circuit
Carlo-Maria Guidici, Douglas Niven, Jim Clark’s cousin, and Matteo Panini pose on what is left of the old Charterhall racing circuit

On the day before the whole event started, it was arranged that Matteo could take the Marcos to what was left of the circuit where he unloaded it and used part of the main straight where the faded white chequer of the start and finish line still exists. .

Matteo Panini at the wheel of the gull-wing Marcos GT on the old Charterhall start and finish line with his coachbuilder friend Carlo-Maria Giudici

Red Bull Racing supported the event and brought along the ex-Mark Webber Red Bull grand prix car and Austrian test driver Patrick Friesacher who entertained the crowd going up and down the short test hill. For Scottish enthusiasts, this was something new and each time there was the whoop-whoop of the engine being fired up and warmed up there was a rush to the barriers for the demonstration. Added to that Jackie himself drove The Matra MS10 Cosworth in which he finished 4th in the Belgian Grand Prix in 1968 on the narrow course.

Sir Jackie Stewart driving the Matra <S10 Cosworth up the short hill climb course (photo ©Larch Gauld – AerialPhotographs)

Jackie also had the support of multiple Le Mans winner Allan McNish and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti but more importantly, the emphasis was on his charity work and his wife Helen, who is now in a wheelchair, flew over from Switzerland with her carers to take part.

It also marked a private showing of a new and touching documentary film on Jackie produced by Mark Stewart. It is simply called STEWART and we will shortly know when it will be making its debut either in cinemas or on television

The inaugural Sir Jackie Stewart Classic was a great success and a boost to motorsport in Scotland.