WHEN you are needing spares for your stock car, especially for the next day, there is only one place to head to and that is the McGill Motorsport store in Kirkcaldy, writes our Cowdenbeath Racewall reporter Jim Turner.

There I bumped into Formula 2 driver Ryan McGill, who just happens to be a Sales Director and lives in Dysart, so we soon got taking about his debut season.

“It had been my dream to race Formula 2s since watching from the sidelines as my dad Billy, and his brother Tony, raced their F2s," said Ryan. "They were often referred to as the ‘crash brothers’, although I can’t put my finger on exactly why - let’s just say they were entertainers! 

“As a family we all went to the racing at the Cowdenbeath Racewall every Saturday night, and we shared a common love for the sport.”

I pointed out that many a time I had turned around only to see both of them raiding my flask for a cup of coffee and searching my bag looking for the biscuits!

Went on Ryan: “That era heralded the birth of McGill Motorsport. My dad’s job required him to travel to the USA a lot and it was there that he struck good deals with manufacturers.

“He used to bring home large boxes of race parts, much to the anguish of my mum in the early days. Initially it was his way of saving money, but other drivers quickly began to ask him for spares. McGill Motorsport was established in 2005 and it’s been a family business driven by passion from day one.

Central Fife Times: Ryan McGill in action in his Formula 2.Ryan McGill in action in his Formula 2. (Image: Contributed)

“We pride ourselves on service and on product quality. We understand that most drivers need parts yesterday, so we do our best to dispatch orders on the day its placed. We are now the largest motorsport retailers in the UK and an especially popular choice for motorsport enthusiasts in Fife.

“My introduction to racing was in karts, along with my brother Liam, and we used to go to Crail for fun and started to record competitive laps. We soon progressed to gear karts and boy were they quick. They had a six-speed sequential gearbox producing speeds well over a 100mph. What a buzz!

“My first race in stock cars was in 2006 and I was using my cousin Dean’s Ministox. He had kindly offered me the use of his car one weekend. I don’t think Dean was too pleased when he later discovered it was the Turner Trophy but he didn’t go back on his promise which I was grateful for.  

“I must have had beginners’ luck and ended up winning the Ministox Turner Trophy. Later my brother Liam won the stock rod version in 2018 and guess what? He was using Dean’s car! My cousin Lee is another Turner Trophy winner, the Formula II one, but he was using his own car! I think Dean is the only one who hasn’t won a Turner Trophy – but there is always next year!”

Looking at his early racing career Ryan added: “Whilst I had raced other forms of stock cars the lure of the Formula 2s was too strong and I got a bare RCE chassis a couple of seasons ago, and by the time that I got the car built it was just in time for the 2023 season to start! Part of the delay was down to how busy work had been but it’s great to be back on track.

“My first season turned out to be more successful than I had thought it would be and I have learned a lot over the year. In my first month of racing, I had to change my roof colour three times!

“My first meeting was far better than I could ever have hoped for! I led the first heat for most of the time, but got caught at the end of the race and had to settle for the runner-up spot. I struck a problem in the second heat and retired, but was back out for the final. I got through into the lead at the start of the race and quickly managed to build up a lead.

“Despite seeing a couple of star drivers beginning to eat into my lead I was able to hold on to win.

“What a great feeling! I never expected to win a final during my first few races, it was a dream start to my Formula II career although the downside was that at my next meeting I had to start from the yellow grade.”

Went on Ryan: “Meeting two was a bit harder to get into the lead, but I went on to win the opening heat and then added a fifth place in heat two. I had another strong run in the final and whilst I led until the closing stages I was eventually caught and had to settle for the runner-up spot.

“The month ended on another high. I struck a problem in the opening heat and had to retire but managed to get the car ready for the second heat. I promptly went on to win the second heat, and then repeated the result in the final to pick up my second final win of the season.

“To round off a cracking meeting, I finished in sixth place in the Grand National and therefor was promoted to the blue grade The first grading period was announced soon afterwards, I had moved up to the red grade. I thought that I had bitten off more than I could chew, and starting my races from that far back on the grid was a tough ask!

“What didn’t help that was the formula had a change of tyre supplier, I found that my car set-up wasn’t right to combat the tyre change. I then struggled to get the car set up properly and it took me a while to do so and by then I had dropped down to the blue grade.”

The momentum was with Ryan: “My first taste of a championship event came during mid May when the ‘British’ was staged at the Racewall.

“My car had been given a thorough check during the week leading up to the British. I was hopeful of putting on a good show, but it wasn’t a good day behind the wheel and I didn’t manage to score a point!

“I was back the following day for the Jim Clark Trophy meeting, but again I just didn’t have any luck and my only finish in the classifications came during the Grand National when I finished in seventh place.

“My next meeting of note was the Scottish Championship which also doubled up with a World Championship qualifying round. My car appeared to be fast but in practice I ran into gearbox problems.

“For the meeting we had changed the cogs in the gearbox to try to get that bit extra. Unfortunately, the cogs we were given weren’t the right ones, so we had to strip out the gearbox and replace the new ones with the original ones. I missed my heat but managed a fourth place in the consolation race, so I was well down the order when the Scottish got underway and although I made up some ground, I didn’t make it into the top ten.

“I didn’t get to race as often as I would have liked after that, but still managed to get a win from the blue grade.

“The Champion of Champions race at the end of October, turned out to be a disaster! On the opening lap a few of us crashed heavily into the turnstile bend wall and my car seemed to take the brunt of the impact.

“In the pits we had a lot of work to do to the car to get it back out and I managed a sixth in the first heat, and then a fifth in the Grand National. It seems that in all of the big races, the car has been quick but I just seemed to run into all sorts of bother!

“The final of the white/yellow series was supposed to have been run towards the end of October, but the meeting was cancelled due to the bad weather. If it had been run in October, I would have been on the grid, but unfortunately, I had another commitment so had to miss that meeting.”

Looking ahead Ryan said: “I have already sent my engine back down to Lyndale Race Engines for a refresh, and we are busy working on the rest of the car just now, hoping to get it ready for 2024, as soon as possible.

“We are replacing any parts that are showing signs of damage and maybe an upgrade or two. In my first year I decided to concentrate on racing at my home track, but intend to do as much travelling as I can next year.

“I do quite a bit of work on the car myself, but do get help from my friends as well.  Liam Buchanan, Aidan Scrimgeour, Peter Alexander, Lee, Liam, Ross, Midge, Dean and my auld man Billy are my team, along with my sponsor ST Racing products, and I am grateful to them for all the help they give me, it couldn’t be done without them.”

The holiday stock car meeting takes place at the Cowdenbeath Racewall on Sunday, January 7 and starts at 1pm. On the bill are van bangers, Rookie Bangers, Prostock Basics and Micro Banger Teams.