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RACING has been with Liam McGill most of his life, as our Cowdenbeath Racewall reporter Jim Turner heard.
Dysart’s Liam recalled “I was brought up watching stock car racing at the Cowdenbeath Racewall and I suppose that it was always on the cards that I would one day race there.
“I had all the flags and ear defenders when I was young and would pretend that I was Mr. Starter. I got quite adept at waving them. My dad Billy and my Uncle Tony raced Formula IIs there for a good few seasons.”
I told Liam: “I remember them only too well. Quite often I would see them retire from a race and before long they would be on the centre green drinking my coffee and asking where the biscuits were!”
Added Liam: “Instead of going into Ministox I got a kart when I was eleven and enjoyed racing them. I started racing them seriously and by the time I was sixteen I was a having a great time.
“I led the Red Bull Fight Final one year until the last lap in what was a big event on the amateur karting scene. When I was 20 became the Scottish Champion. The format consisted of a four track series and I was lucky enough to win it and I was the runner-up on three other occasions.
“In 2007 my dad brought a load of rose joints etc back from America that would be useful for usage in stock cars and that was the start to McGill Motorsport. He was still racing Formula IIs at the time.
“After that the business grew rapidly and since then he has moved premises on a couple of occasions with our head office in Kirkcaldy. We have gone from selling just rose joints to anything that could be required for racing, including racing helmets, suits, seats and all components for braking, fuel, fire protection and electrical systems.
“Amongst our latest products are STR Wireless App scales, but the future products that we are in the process of getting are Stock Rod wheels, tracking plates, spring packers and differential nuts. We have displayed our products on stands at the Autosport show in Birmingham, Motorsport with Attitude at Peterborough and just recently the Racing Expo in Leeuwarden, in the Netherlands.
“I used to work at Mossmorran but I moved to the family business recently to take up the post of technical adviser.”
Liam recalled his development in the sport: “When I left the karts I had a season away from racing before moving to Knockhill where I started racing in the BMW Compact Cup series.
“That was in 2017, when I was 22 years-old. It was really hard for us at the start. The engine wasn’t as competitive as it could have been and we found it hard to get the car set up correctly. However, once we did manage to scale it as is should be, it became a dream to drive. In no time at all we were competitive and running with the front runners and as a result we were able to pick up podium finishes.
“I remember one meeting where I had the fastest lap and started the races from pole position. I won both the races to make it a clean sweep. It turned out to be an exciting time, helped greatly by picking up a few wins. The following season I raced my BMW down south but I found it very expensive so at the end of the year I sold my car.
“I then decided to try my luck at stock cars. I think it’s a sport where you get a bigger bang for your money. The ORCi Stock Rods were the obvious choice for me. It was non contact and therefore it required skills I had gained through my circuit racing at Knockhill.
“I started as a white grade driver and I had bought Dean McGill’s car and he must have been fizzing when he couldn’t catch me when I started from the white grade! Mind you even when I got up to the red grade he had trouble catching me even then.
“I got a great buzz from my first win and even now I get the same feeling when I win a race. Quite often you would see me, Dean and Lee running nose to tail in races. Despite what some drivers might say we are all there to win – that is what racing is all about.”
Looking at his successes he went on: “My first major championship was the European Championship at the Racewall. Along with my mechanics we spent a lot of time trying different springs and finally we found the right spring lengths and poundage.
“The hard work paid off and in practice and qualifying the car was certainly on the pace. Once the points were totalled I had qualified third on the grid. I was really pleased with that. Unfortunately my race didn’t last long – around three laps. I was looking to get ahead of the car ahead of me but we touched and as a result we crashed out of the race.
“Due to work commitments I didn’t get over to Nutts Corner, in Northern Ireland, for the World Final, which was a bit disappointing but work has to come first. My next major championship was the Scottish Championship and the grid positions are drawn out of a hat. I ended up second last! I knew that I had a lot of work to do if I wanted to get a good result especially with a lot of the faster drivers towards the front of the grid. The car ran well and I managed to make my way through the field and was really pleased when I ended up in fifth place.
“I had scored well in the points over the season and was well placed in the GMP National Points race but during the second heat of the last meeting I was shunted wide and suffered quite a bit of damage to my car and that was that.
“This year at the practice meetings I used the yellow car. I had changed a lot of things over the winter and I am pleased with its performance. However, I intend this car to be my spare. I am building a Vauxhall Adam and intend to use a 16-valve engine, I think you need to do something different as everyone knows Corsa’s are very quick but if you want to be the quickest you will only be by the smallest of margins.
“That is why we are going with the Adam and to see if we can find more pace. When you start from the back of the grid you only have between 16 to 20 laps to get through the field it is very difficult when a lot of the drivers are on the same pace. Mind you with the racing cancelled I might be able to get the Adam finished quicker than I thought!
“My sponsors are McGill Motorsport, STR Racing Products, Kingdom Waste Removals, Gas Shocks, Lee Smart Racing and S. Matthews Paving and Property Ground works. My mechanics are Chief bossy boots Chloe Wishart, the mighty Michael Dunne and big bad Billy McGill.”
“I am really looking forward to getting back to the racing as my first season has really set the fire in my stomach alight and I just can’t wait to get back in action”.