THIS year the Cowdenbeath Racewall will be celebrating the 40th season of BriSCA Formula II racing under the leadership of GMP, writes our Racewall scribe Jim Turner.

It was at Newtongrange that GMP started and ironically it was on second weekend of March that the first meeting took place. When Newtongrange closed GMP moved to Central Park, in Cowdenbeath, built the infamous concrete wall giving birth to the infamous Racewall.

Would you believe that the GMP staff that day included Lorraine Chisholm, Adam and Margaret Brown and Ronnie Featch in some capacity or other and they are still going strong today! However, at the end of last season Marilyn Allison, Ann and Ian Deas retired, and they too were amongst the hardy brigade of GMP officials.

The 40th season at the Racewall has all the promises of being another exciting one and when I caught up with racing manager Dave Borthwick he commented: “Knockhill is back on the calendar after a break of seven years, which we are delighted with.

"We have a World Final, two European and a British Championship, World Championship Qualifying Rounds, National Series Rounds, the Superbowl and Scottish Championships to run so it is going to be a busy and an exciting season.”

At that Dave clambered up a ladder as he ran cables in the control box: “We are in the process of refurbishing the control box (where he was re-routing cables).

“We have just finished painting, we have to get the new computers in for the Mylaps system and working for the practice meetings.

"We are awaiting quotations for the PA system and a CCTV system which will cover the stands. The CCTV is basically for the football but we will be able to use it to cover the bends.

"We have serviced all the recovery units and there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes that the spectators don’t see.”

He added: “After the incident at Birmingham we have had to implement all the recommendations that the HSE have introduced but there could well be further items added. Safety for drivers and spectators is paramount and we will adhere to their recommendations. We must keep our sport as safe as possible even although some of the conditions may not be popular with everybody.”

Looking to the season Dave went on: “We were disappointed to lose the 1300 Saloons who had been very entertaining last year. Our application to join the association was rejected so unfortunately at this stage we cannot run them.

“As usual our first “big” meeting is the BBA Banger World Cup and it is proving to be as popular as ever with both the drivers and spectators. Last year we had to delay the start to the meeting to allow the crowds to get in!

"Jack Overy has dominated this meeting over the past four seasons and it will be interesting to see how he gets on this year. It is pleasing that we already have over 20 drivers booked in although it will probably not be until the end of March before we get a lot more bookings.

“The Formula IIs look to be on the up. It looks like we have five new drivers and hopefully we can build on this.

"Steven Burgoyne had a cracking season last year and it will be interesting to see how he fares this year. Our first visit to Knockhill is on a Friday night and is the start of a trilogy of Formula II World Championship Qualifying Rounds. On the Saturday they move to the Racewall, and then up to Crimond for Sunday’s event.

"It hopefully it will be of benefit for the Racewall drivers who could easily secure a place on the semi-final grid spot should they have a solid three day's racing. There are two National Series Rounds in Scotland this year, the first at Crimond with the Racewall’s meeting scheduled for Sunday October 4.

“We have the Formula I drivers back with us again this year in June for their Scottish Championship and World Championship rounds. At present discussions are ongoing with Knockhill about staging another qualifying round on the Friday night.

“The 2 Litre Saloon drivers were exciting last year and the highlight of the season – their World Final, was an exciting affair so let’s hope that the European Championship in May is every bit as exciting.

"It is hard to beat the saloons at the Racewall – especially if it is a championship event. Ian McLaughlin retained his Scottish Championship but he had to do it the hard way! After the opening lap he was last and then won it on the last lap! "Probably the best Saloons action came at the Superbowl where they were in a class of their own. Diggy Smith went on to win his first ever Superbowl to add to his World Championship win – at the Superbowl there was non-stop action. Again their National Series round is on the last day of our season.”

Dave looked at the return to Knockhill: “Knockhill is playing host to the ORCi Stock Rod European Championship on May 15 and like the Formula IIs will have racing at the Racewall on Saturday and then at Crimond the following day. Three days of stock rod racing at three different venues!

"The biggie is obviously their World Final, which is being held in September, and we are already well ahead in our preparations for this event. The Stock Rods were good last season and we had plenty of close racing without too many drivers getting a slap on their wrists.

"I’m sure that the race receivers made a huge difference to their racing and we are able to warn them of incidents which have hopefully saved them from damage. We hope for more of the same this year. Already we have two new faces with the return of David Philp Jnr and Taylor Borthwick coming from the Ministox.”

Dave came back down to floor level as the painting started: “I think that the Ministox drivers were exceptional last year and this year they have quite a few events to look forward to.

"Their biggest event is the 'British' and the 'East of Scotland' plus the Keir Millar Memorial Trophy, so we can look forward to some exciting racing. Bobby Brandon and Zara Hutchinson are moving up from the Micro F2s plus Kai and Madison Gilmour will be taking out a licence with us.

“The Micro F2 drivers are entertaining and had a good season considering that the drivers are aged between 7 to 11 years. I think that David Philp Jnr Jnr and Oliver Heron will be the ones to watch but there are a few that are almost ready for the breakthrough. It is the same with the Prostock Basics, which is the starter formula we introduced a few years ago. A few drivers have already moved on to the senior formula and there are a few new faces stepping into their shoes.

“The National Hot Rods and Classic Hot Rods have dates and whilst the Prostocks numbers weren’t as good as hoped for we hope for this formula to improve this year. The Heritage Formula II drivers will be heading up in August for their annual visit whilst in the June weekend meeting the American Cup Racers are with us.”

Dave did mention: “With it being our 40th season look for one or two surprises along the way. Our practice meetings are on the 1st and 8th March and we hope to see as many drivers as possible out there taking advantage of the sessions”