Stage Formula 1 in Scotland and show we are still in Europe

Stage Formula 1 in Scotland and show we are still in Europe

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Monday 2, January, 2017

BREXIT, Europe, EU, Remoanians, immigrants, Single Market… I don't think I'm the only one believing this debate is becoming somewhat stalled. An avalanche of cliches and acronyms gives that away.

Scotland has been cut out of the loop of credible solutions to boost the UK outside of the EU largely because of "that lot" in power at Holyrood running about the place telling us we aren't leaving. It's time Scots in love with the UK and with the European continent should start making some positive suggestions.

So I will. 

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I love motorsport. It's a fabulous mix of man and machine, of advanced technology and raw instinct, firing every cylinder to win and win big. The greatest prize of all must be the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Indycar racing has never really taken off in Europe before now, though that extremely popular series has exported races to Japan and Australia. It's watched by millions of Americans that aren't for understatement.

Motorsport generates billions in revenues, it is possibly the finest way to promote world beating brands from alcohol to clothing to luxury goods to fuel to just about anything glam. The show girls, the engines, the noise of the crowd, and the beer means everyone who goes to a F1 race feels like a winner.

The sport also creates thousands of jobs in engineering, in tourism and in marketing. Oxford and Coventry are centres of motoring excellence thanks to a free market economy, low taxes, great transport links and outstanding universities.

But I can't help thinking that when I think of racing drivers, a lot of Scottish names spring to mind. David Courthald, Colin McRae, Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark (pictured) were all world famous champions in their day. They put us on the map for a while. Knockhill is great fun, very popular but to be fair, it's not quite world beating as yet. 

There is no Scottish motor industry now and the track at Silverstone in England, while popular, faces many serious challenges. It is increasingly seen by race organisers as not being suitable for the modern day. It's also literally miles from anywhere. You sleep in a ridiculously overpriced B&B or you sleep on your car or you drive in and brave the traffic.

Maybe there's another way. Somewhere where lots of cheap and at times derelict land is found very close to major cities, with airports, motorways and masses of accommodation. That would be the perfect place for a new F1 capable, smartphone friendly, motor circuit. Could it be built at Prestwick, or Leuchars, in East Lothian or outside Inverness even?  Who knows, but perhaps we should be asking why we don't know.

The UK government against great opposition in terms of cost brought the Olympics to the UK. Expensive? Yes, very, but it did however catalyse redevelopment across the capital and brought some relief to a Europe struggling with economic depression. After Beijing, runners at Hampton Court and volleyball players at Horse Guards Parade showed the world Europe could pull off something pretty amazing to inspire people.

Could the UK or Scottish Government moot the idea of bringing the British or even the European Grand Prix to a new circuit in Scotland? If the location was central it could work. The Opens held at St. Andrews, East Lothian and Ayrshire show we can pull the level of crowd necessary. Indycar racing could have a real chance to open up the UK and European markets if a circuit was built to match their specifications too.

Our airports are successful, their range of links to Europe and US hubs respectable, but more importantly they are not overcrowded like Heathrow. There is no question our hotel industry, not to mention B&B owners and AirBnb Rigsbys could not make a tidy sum outside the main holiday season. The prestige for Scotland would be immense, a European Grand Prix especially would be powerful in terms of proving we remain in Europe while outside of the EU. Baku has hosted it, why not Glasgow?

Notwithstanding a British Grand Prix outside England would help shape the minds of those south of the border and challenge their view of what Britain really is.

Or we could spend £800m on another tram system that never had a business case and never will. The money we spent on the Olympics dwarfs what would be needed for a long term catalyst for Scottish prosperity.

The SNP will never buy into this idea for all the obvious and wrong reasons. The party is too dominated by incredibly negative people and is too obsessed with a future that is all about control to have a real vision for a future that can only ever start today from within the Union.

Scottish Tories are in pole position to knock on every door in London to make this case, starting with a no-holds-barred feasibility study. The UK owes us a chance to shine in global motorsport, to keep it on these islands for generations to come.




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