Just recognition for one of motorsport’s unsung heroes

Celebration of Sport presentation at Jim Clark museum
Celebration of Sport presentation at Jim Clark museum

Surrounded by the many trophies and items of memorabilia on display in the Jim Clark Room in Duns, the man who first introduced Clark to competitive racing reflects on the career of the two times Formula One World Champion.

Ian Scott Watson has visited the Clark trophy room countless times, but on this rather overcast Tuesday afternoon it is he who is the centre of attention.

Unable to attend the recent Celebration of Sport Awards Dinner, the venue in Newtown Street Duns seemed the obvious place to present Ian with his Service to Sport award.

While he enjoyed competitive driving, Scott Watson realised very quickly he was no match for the like of Clark and, talking fondly of his friend, said “He had such incredible vision and lightening quick reactions. He was so instinctive.”

Ian’s skill in acquiring cars and running a team were first evident during the mid 1950’s when he and a bunch of enthusiastic young farmers formed Ecurie Agricole,regarded by many at the time as the third Scottish racing team of the time.

They managed to field a variety of out-dated cars.

“We had TC MGs, DKW Sonderklasse, Triumph TR2, Austin-Healey and Jim was among the pit crew,” explained Ian who eventually swapped his DKW for a Porsche 1600 Super and persuaded the young Clark to drive it at the BMRC Trophy Meeting at the end of 1957 season at Charterhall. Clark had earlier shown signs of his potential when he first got behind the wheel of Watson’s DKW at Crimond and soon the pair were invited to become part of a revamped Borders Reivers racing team inspired by its founder Jock McBain. All three enjoying great success up and down the country during the late 50’s.

Ian was with Clark the day he first got behind a wheel of a car under the watchful eye of Colin Chapman and, as his relationship with Chapman and Lotus flourished, remained a steady influence and dependable friend.

When Clark moved on to Team Lotus in 1960 the Border Reivers team dropped out of the motor racing scene but the name was used ten years later by Ian when he and Bernard Buss of Celtic Homes sponsored Douglas Niven – Jim Clark’s cousin – in saloon car racing.

Scott Watson continued to be an influential presence with Scottish Motorsport. Anita Taylor, the sister of Jim Clark’s team mate Trevor Taylor, won the BMRC Trophy at the last-ever race meeting at Charterhall in Scott Watson’s Lotus Elan. He founded the Scottish Motor Racing Club and to design the racing circuit at Ingliston, which replaced Charterhall, and help form Scotcircuits to build and run it.

Recognised as one of motorsport’s unsung heroes, when news of Ian award reached Sir Jackie Stewart, the three times Formula One World Champion was quick to congratulate him.

“Ian has done an immense amount for Scottish Motorsport over a great many years,” he said.

“Without him I am not at all sure that Jim Clark would ever have been able to get starting racing that took him to tremendous heights.

“With Ian’s influence and guidance as well as friendship to Jimmy, I know from all of the times that I spent with Jimmy how much it meant to him, motorsports in Scotland and the Borders for that matter would be a poorer place if he had not been around.

“Well done Ian for this recognition, it’s well earned.”