THE closed door practice session at the Cowdenbeath Racewall on Saturday was cancelled due to a substantial amount of standing water on the track plus the forecast which predicted further rain throughout the afternoon, writes our Racewall scribe Jim Turner.

With the seven to eleven year old Micro F2 drivers on the bill their safety on what would have been a very wet track was the deciding factor.

There is another closed door session planned for this weekend with Ministox, Stock Rods and Saloons the main formulae but if sufficient Micro F2s book in then they could be added.

Please note that the session will take place on Sunday afternoon with a 1pm start time. Again drivers must book in and check the Racewall web site.

Do you remember the ORCI Stock Rod Scottish Championship at the Racewall on Saturday September 20 2003. Gillian Philp certainly does as she chalked up her fourth successive win!

There was a lot of anticipation about the Stock Rod Scottish in 2003 with Gillian Philp, from Seafield, having equalled the three consecutive wins success of Chris Lattka?

The question was would Gillian make it four in a row or would someone stop her from doing do? The grid draw was a public one and as such you would hope for as good a draw as possible. Who would the grid draw favour?

“The week running up to the Scottish,” Gillian told me, ”we did a front to back spanner check to make sure that everything was tight and was where it should be.

"It is something that we did for every race but with it being the Scottish it was a case of making sure – especially when I was going for a record breaking four in a row. It does you no favours if something works loose because you haven’t checked it properly. When we got to the track it was busy and a lot of people anticipated that I was expected to win so that put a lot of pressure on me.”

That night there was a big turn out of Stock Rod drivers at the track and apart from the drivers who had qualified for the Scottish there were another 20 cars there for the last chance qualifying heat. It turned out to be an entertaining race and there were quite a few lead changes with Bruce Wedderburn the initial leader, but Jock McNab then John Venters all had turns at the front of the pack. Towards the end of the race Lenny Messenger moved into the lead before going through to win from Eric O’Neil and Keith Stewart.

“In these days the grid was decided by a public draw and I felt that it you were in the top six rows then you were in with a good chance. As it was I drew on the inside of row 6. I felt confident but I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. ”

On the front row were Neil Gordon and Jody Milne whilst right behind were James Halkett and Robert McDonald. David Brown was on row three, David Philp Jnr was on row 5 whilst directly behind Gillian was Chris Lattka.

“I can’t say that I was ever nervous on the grid. I don’t think I would have raced if I had been. I was keen to get started and just couldn’t wait to start.”

Milne made the better of the starts to lead from Gordon whilst McDonald slotted into third place and initially these three opened up a gap over Halkett.

“I got away well and made it around the opening laps without mishap.”

After a couple of laps the gap to the leading three closed up whilst further back Gillian slipped inside of David whilst behind them Brett Sneddon moved ahead of Lattka. D. Philp Jnr slowed to retire whilst Brian Hastie retired when his front suspension broke.

“My car was going well and I was confident and had made up a couple of places so was just wanting to get on with the race.”

Milne was still leading Gordon but the latter was looking for a way through into the lead but at each attempt had to drop back. This was allowing the pack behind to bunch up and soon there was a group of seven drivers fighting it out for the lead. Gillian was the seventh but with the leaders slowing up each other it was difficult to make up ground.

“When I had caught up with the leading group I was looking to see where I could overtake and make up places.”

After a few laps the order began to change with G. Philp managing to get through into sixth and then a couple of laps later into fourth place. Brown was in third but was unable to get ahead of the pair ahead and soon had G. Philp on his back bumper. The top four were now nose to tail but overtaking was proving to be difficult.

“I remember seeing Kerr Paterson and McDonald locked together and stopped beside the pit bend wall and then the yellow flags appeared. My car was handling well and I was still confident of a good result.”

Milne was still the leader from Gordon with Brown and Philp the next along and when the pace car moved the cars began to creep forward. Milne made another good start but soon had Gordon on his back bumper with Brown and G. Philp in close order. The cars ran in this order for a few laps with Milne in defensive mode as he desperately tried to hold onto his lead. Philp was probing to find a line that would get ahead of Brown but after a few attempts took the matter into her own hands and took to the outside line. Within a couple of laps she had driven around those ahead and through into the lead and once there was able to ease away

“It was totally risky taking to the outside line but the inside line was being blocked all the time. I was confident that I could overtake the three cars ahead of me on the outside. My car was handling well and if anything I was faster than the three cars ahead of me. It took me just over a lap to get into the lead, new that it would pay off and once I did I managed to ease away from them.”

As the laps began to be counted down she was catching the back markers and had to make sure of overtaking without being delayed. Gordon finally got ahead of Milne but was under pressure from Brown. Lattka got around Sneddon into fifth whilst Halkett slowed and had to retire.

“I was a bit cautious when lapping the back markers. I made sure of passing them when I had a good run on them and a clear line.”

With the five lap board appeared Philp had a commanding lead and was maintain the gap over the cars that were chasing her. The remainder of the laps were reeled off and then the Philp car exited the pit bend and charged though to pick up her fourth successive Scottish Championship, eclipsing the record of Lattka.

“I was relieved when the chequered flag dropped and couldn’t believe that I had won the title four years in a row. Getting through the traffic was a problem but after that it was a fairly easy win.

"I had driven a confident race all the more so as I hadn’t had the best of seasons. The presentation was good, my brother David and sister Hazel were there along with the team who had supported and helped me including Stuart McLeod (Streaky), Iain Borthwick (Rocket) and Wee Alex (A lump from the shed). Hazel only came when I was racing in the Scottish Championships. The victory lap was good and we all got a rousing reception from the fans.”

Gillian had also been racing Pick Up Trucks that year and some of these races coincided with Stock Rod events so it was a really busy time for her. Unfortunately the fifth Scottish Championship didn’t materialise, she finished in second place, but was right on the back bumper of the winner!