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“IT was getting pretty cold towards the end of the stock car season,” Graeme Dignan told me when I bumped into him and his sons David and Jordan, “But the first Saturday there was no racing we just didn’t know what to do with ourselves!”, writes our Cowdenbeath Racewall reporter Jim Turner.
“I am glad that my boys are into stock cars – it is something that we enjoy and can do together and it gets into your blood. I am still into punk music though and I go to concerts with my daughter!”
Graeme went on: “David has sold his Nova Stock Rod and his building a Corsa C whilst Jordan is building a new car”.
“I wouldn’t have had to!” cuts in Jordan “but someone took out my car and wrecked it- didn’t you David?” David just stood there with a smile on his face! Graeme broke in to say: “We are going to have to spend sometime in the garage building cars over the close season but already we are missing the racing on a Saturday night even although the weather is cold. We have made a lot of friends through the racing and miss having a chat with them.”
I asked how he got into stock cars and I was told by Graeme: “It was all Jimmy Moodie’s fault. I was still at school and went to the garage after it finished.
“On a Saturday I would go with him to Newtongrange. There was no A92 dual carriageway at that time and it took quite a while to get there. If it was a weekend meeting I used to sleep in a tent! I remember when he got his Higman chassis delivered. At school I did a step by step journal in English about changing a diff in a stock car. My teacher didn’t have a clue on my choice of topic.
“I bought a Stock Rod in 1995 from Mark Taylor and raced it for a season but then work took over. I was a mechanical engineer at Mossmorran but usually managed to get there to watch. However, some ten years later I bought a Nova from Jock Bowie and raced the car for a good few seasons. In all the years that I raced I never blew an engine! Mind you I cannot say that about my sons!”
Graeme pointed out: “I raced Novas all through my career. I got up to blue and had a few wins along the way. I was always on the fringes in championship races although my highlight was when I won my only trophy- the Turner Trophy. I enjoyed my racing especially the trips to Crimond.”
But then he added: “I began to suffer from Crohns and I retired after the 2008 season when David appeared with his Stock Rod. I did return the following season with a Corsa. I never got much out of it and when my Crohns started to play up I retired.”
David told me: “Like dad I started out with a Nova which I had painted orange. The car had been straightened out that often we had to scrap it within a couple of seasons.
“At times you could see the front bulkhead move when you cornered and we weren’t getting anywhere. We built another Nova and it took us over a couple of seasons to really get the hang of the car. Mind you we had to straighten out the car on more than one occasion! As the years rolled on I got more competitive and started to get a few wins under my belt. However, things came to a sudden halt when I was in a shunt on the main straight and broke my shoulder blade.
“It was a year and a half before I returned to the racing. We had repaired the Nova – it hadn’t been too badly damaged, but it took me a couple of meetings to get my confidence back and when it did I started to pick up some good results. I was eighth in the ‘European’ and tenth in the ‘World’ in 2015.
“I started my own business in Methilhill and I ended working long hours to get it up and running whilst also working on the Stock Rod.
“Luckily dad and Jordan were on hand and they helped to keep all three stock cars going. Funnily enough the past two seasons have been really good for me.
“Last year I was sitting in the top ten in the Stock Rod track points and was just a couple of tenths slower than the faster cars. I struggled for some reason over the last three meetings and as a result I dropped out of the top ten.
“2019 has probably been one of my better seasons and had qualified for all of the major championships at the Racewall. I did race at Crimond and again did alright. After being a Nova user for so many seasons I decided that if I wanted to get more competitive then I had to change. That is why the Nova and all the spares have gone and I am busy working on a Corsa C.”
In 2017 the Racewall introduced a new starter formula, the Prostock Basics which was a small car with all the glass removed and a roll cage added. That is when things started to get a bit hectic for the Dignans.
The first meeting saw three cars appear but for the second meeting there was another car on the track with the number of 640.
Graeme pointed out: “Jordan is autistic and he had done most of the work on the car. Stock cars are his thing and he is happy around the stock car drivers.”
Jordan commented: “I was desperate to race and if I needed help on the car then I got it. I’d had a Ministox but blew an engine at Crimond then wrecked the car at the Racewall shortly afterwards. To me the Prostock Basics were the answer.
“I raced full-time the following season and really enjoyed every moment. Mind you I wrecked a couple of cars but midway through the season my dad had one as well. It was alright when there were no stock rods on the format. Getting three cars there would have been difficult.”
Graeme hinted that he felt that the Prostock Basics were better last year when it was agreed that it would be a non contact formula: “You will never cut out contact because drivers have different braking points and trying to get past another car can be difficult.
“I got a couple of wins and have raced from the red grade all year. I have had some cracking races with other drivers even though it was for a lower order place but we were racing cleanly and it was good. Mind you I remember one race where I made contact with Jordan and ended up spinning him out. He wasn’t pleased and I had two cars to fix!”
Jordan then piped up: “I remember that. I wasn’t too chuffed. I bought a 1300 Saloon towards the end of 2019.
“I struggled a bit on my first race but was going better after we sorted things out. You should never let your brother out in your car though. He wrecked it and we have had cut it up. I hope he is going to help me built my new one.”
It looks like the Dignans are going to be busy over the close season where they have to build a Stock Rod, as well as a couple of Prostock Basics. David commented that they are basically the mechanics for all the cars but at times they sometimes get help from Sandy Allen, Connor and David van Dieken, whilst they get sponsorship from Toll Auto Services, Phil Harris at Mac Tools, Shug McLean and Toll Car Wash.
The gist of their conversation is that they enjoy racing and the patter in the pits: “We have really made a lot of friends at the racing and whilst we race to get as good results as possible, there is always plenty of good humoured banter in the pits.”