WHEN I met up with Formula II driver Ian Thompson Jnr at his car sales lot at Buckhaven I was not expecting him to tell me, “I am going to be helping my dad, Ian Thompson Snr, with the running of Nutts Corner Raceway, in Northern Ireland", writes our Cowdenbeath Racewall reporter Jim Turner.

Ian added: "My Dad was thinking of selling the raceway after 30 years promoting because he had lost all interest due to the way the governing bodies had been dealing with certain situations. I found this to be a very sad situation as he had built the track from nothing and I can remember as a kid growing up being involved at the track as it was built sharing very fond memories throughout the years with close friends and family some of which are no longer with us. "I also believe Nutts Corner Raceway has so much more to offer. We made a decision together to come up with a plan to rejuvenate the raceway and get things back on track. "Things are looking more positive for 2019 and they have already started to upgrade the toilets and have plans to upgrade turnstiles and a few other areas at the track.”

"“I have taken one of my formula II cars over to dad’s and I intend to race it there as often as I can. "I was down at Birmingham at the end of the season and I was quite impressed with the performance of the cars with the Zetec engines. I am going to change the car at my dad’s to take a Zetec and see how it goes. The other one I will keep at Kennoway for the Racewall and mainland racing. I hope to race as often as I can and my aim will be to qualify for the World this year."

I asked Ian about his induction as the eleventh member of an exclusive club and was told: “I finally managed to pick up my 100th final win. I had been sitting on 99 final wins for some time and hadn’t being going as well as I would have liked it to.

"The races weren’t just going right for me – just one of these things! The grader dropped me from the red grade down to blue but I didn’t really want my 100th win to come from there. I feel I am a red grade driver and as such that is where I wanted my win to come from. I had agreed with Crispen Rosevear that I could race from the red grade as really I was only penalising myself. "They had let Rob Speak do this when he returned to Formula II racing a few years ago so I didn’t see a problem. However, the official grader, Dave Hamar, decreed otherwise and whilst I had raced in the first heat as a red grade driver after that I had to race from the blue grade. "My form was quite good that night and the final for once went my way. I was quite sure that I was going to win from blue and true enough I did. I got into the lead early on but there was oil on the track and over the closing laps Euan Millar began to catch me. Euan made a mistake on the last bend and that gave me the space I needed to pick up the win and to join the elite group of drivers who have won 100 finals.”

Ian has tasted success in the Formula IIs winning the World Championship at Bristol in 2008, the FII Challenge in 2003, 07, 08 and 2018 and the Nationals Championship in 2009.

Ian was born in Lisburn in Northern Ireland and when I queried him about how he got into racing he recounted: “I grew up watching my dad race Stock Saloons at Portadown in the 1980’s. – he won the Saloon Scottish Open Championship at Newtongrange, so it was natural that when I was old enough I was going to race.

"I started racing in 1990, aged 10, in the junior class at Nutts Corner where I won everything there was to win in the class. After the juniors I moved onto 1600 hot rods (now called 2.0 hot rods) when I was 14 and raced them for a couple of seasons. I did well in hot rods and I won the Irish Championship along with a few other domestic championships.

“When I turned 16 we bought an old HCD F2 although I only raced in a few meetings at the end of 1996, one at the Nutts Corner, the Racewall, and at Hartlepool. We then decided to upgrade and we bought a brand new HCD car for the following year. I quickly moved to the red grade and won quite a few races that year including the track points championship. I won my first title in 2003 and continued racing F2s up until 2004 winning quite a few races and Championship along the way.

“I switched to the National Hot Rods – a non contact formula - which I raced in seasons 2005 and 6. I did quite well and ended up winning the British and National Championships. I really enjoyed my short stint racing the National Hot Rod but I don’t think National Hot Rod racing enjoyed my style of driving. I often think back to this time and regret not sticking at National Hot Rods for another few seasons because I believe I could have achieved a lot of success.”

Added Ian: “I returned to the Formula IIs in 2007 with a new RCE car which brought us a lot of wins including the Irish Championship and F2 Challenge. The following season I had the one and only ever built RCE tilting chassis which once again brought us good success. I defended both the F2 Challenge and Irish championships and won the infamous World Championship which was held at Bristol.”

“In 2009 I moved to Kennoway. I had married Jacqueline Moodie, and called Cowdenbeath my local track. We had a quite a quiet season compared to others only winning the F2 Nationals . At the end of the season I decided to take a break for various reasons mainly as my daughter Maia was due to be born in early 2010 and we weren’t liking the direction BriSCA F2 racing was taking.

“I stayed away from the racing for quite a few seasons occasionally going to watch but with very little interest.

When I asked what induced him to restart his racing career, Ian recalled: "It was announced Nutts Corner Raceway would host the 2016 British Championship. I had never raced in a major championship at Nutts Corner in all the years I had raced there.

"I approached Dave Richardson of RCE about racing a hire car for a few meetings - which he agreed to. My return coincided with the running of the British championship and to say it was an education would be an understatement. The racing was a lot more competitive than it had been when I had previously raced. I didn’t have much success that weekend but I did a few more meetings throughout year and at the end of the season I decided to have a new car of my own for 2017. I also bought a similar car from Garry Sime.

“Family life and being self employed really restrict the amount of time I get to spend on the car with most weeks all I really get to do is charge the battery and go racing. As the old saying goes 'Races are won in the garage'. I need to try and find a way to get time to work on the car between meetings as I do think I am seriously under achieving.”

Ian also told me: “Since coming back racing I have managed to get myself involved with the BDF within BriSCA F2. It is a small group of drivers put together a few years ago to give the drivers nationwide a voice within BriSCA F2. Though the BDF is still in its infancy I feel that in the last 12 months it has took a huge step in the right direction. There have been quite a lot of changes to the formula 2 cars over the past couple of seasons, which haven’t gone down too well with the drivers. Hopefully a good dialogue between the drivers and the BriSCA F2 management will prevail and BriSCA F2 will regain its prestigious status in oval racing.

“I am also involved in the Scottish drivers group and each week we ask who is racing so we can pass the information to the promotion so they can update their website. I also try to inform the drivers of rule changes and other topics on the horizon. I am going to start a similar group in Northern Ireland and have already had discussions with the drivers over there with positive responses.”

Ian also told me “My daughter, Maia is at an age when she wants a Micro F2 and we will see about her having a run in one of her cousin's cars at Nutts Corner. If she likes it then I suppose I will need to get her one.

“I’d like to thank the guys that help with the cars Mark (Dingis) Johno and Big Stevie and also my sponsors Strathore Group Thornton, BSS Coldstores Largo. A&K Auto Repairs Anstruther, Thompson Site services Dundrod, Scrap a car Scotland Thornton, Auto smart Grant Purdie Lochgelly, Alistair Buchan ltd East Wemyss , Rash Motorsport Thornton , and James Moodie Motor Engineers Buckhaven. Without these guys it wouldn’t happen

* There were quite a few new faces at the opening practice session at the Cowdenbeath Racewall on Sunday afternoon with some promising performances which augers well for the future.

Euan Mathieson (Lochgelly) had a few gremlins with his 2 Litre National Saloon but when it was running on full song was as quick as the other cars.

There were plenty of ORCi Stock Rods in action with Michael Bethune (Kirkcaldy), David Dignan (Leven) and Dean McGill (Kirkcaldy) all on the pace.

In the 1300 Saloons there were quite a few new faces and whilst Fraser Clark was the quickest, Gregor Whyte (Cowdenbeath), Scott Lindsell (Cowdenbeath) and Jeff Cosans (Rosyth) gave a good account of themselves.

The Prostock Basics saw Leven pair David van Dieken and Jordan Dignan and Declan Lindsell (Cowdenbeath) put in some good laps.

The Glenrothes duo of Connor St Aubyn and Lennon Cuthill showed up well in their Micro F2s and should be making their mark on the sport this year.

There is another practice session this Sunday where we can expect to see quite a few new cars turning up to be put through their paces. The Micro F2 drivers session starts at noon and finishes at 1.00pm and then for the others its runs to 4.00pm