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Monte Carlo Fever Grips Paisley

Around 10 000 spectators will throng Paisley’s Abbey Close tomorrow evening (Wed) for the UK Start of the 105th Monte Carlo Classic Rally.
The world famous international event is being hosted by Renfrewshire Council as part of the build-up to the town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

Drivers of 70 classic vehicles, from a 1920s world record breaker to a 1950s London taxi, will be flagged over the start ramp at Paisley Abbey before beginning their colourful adventure.
The 2800km odyssey to the Riviera, via the Alps, is expected to take around a week, with crews meeting drivers from European start cities of Barcelona, Oslo, Reims and Bad Homburg.
Nearly 60 000 spectators have attended the endurance classic since the UK Start returned to Scotland in 2011.

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A further addition to this year’s programme will be entrants from John o’Groats honouring the 90th anniversary of Scot Victor Bruce’s winning campaign, which started in the Caithness village back in 1926.

The ‘Monte’ was established by Prince Albert of Monaco in 1911. Despite having its origins in the golden age of adventure, its popularity has survived the decades.
“The Monte has always had a special sparkle,” says retired teacher, Gordon McAllan (68) from Strathaven, who will navigate a 1931 Riley with driver and owner, John Lomas.
“I used to sit next to a crackly Phillips valve radio in the 1950s, listening to reports of where the cars were in France. I was a Glasgow tenement boy growing up in a no-car family but the Monte had special meaning. It still does.”

(images by Jeff Holmes)

Ranald White (59) from Bearsden, who was also in attendance at Tuesday’s official photo-shoot, will drive the only Rover 2000 in the rally.
He is hoping for less drama than last year when a problem affecting both ends of his journey almost stymied his aspirations within sight of the finish line.

“The car developed a problem before I even got on the start ramp in Paisley but we managed to get it going. Then, when we were on the final stage in France, the car gave up again.

“It was the last major time control but, fortunately, we managed to get it onto the ramp, 45 seconds before being disqualified. We were certainly cutting it fine so we are hoping things are less eventful this year.”

(pictures by Tracey Clements of Paisley.org.uk)

International entrants include Belgian driver Jean-Marie Herman, who is setting his meter running at Paisley and hopes his 1950s taxi makes it to Monaco.
Jean-Marie and his crew are recreating the story of the BBC Sportsview team, who entered the rally in 1961 in a London black cab.

A specially-branded Paisley 2021 Sunbeam car, piloted by local driver Jim Megatt, will guide the competitors on their journey, with drivers also competing in heritage run support events.
Councillor Mark Macmillan, leader of Renfrewshire Council and chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board, said: “We are delighted to welcome the only UK start leg of the Monte Carlo Classic Rally back to Paisley for the third year in a row.

“In previous years there’s always been a great family day out as crowds gather to watch the cars set off for France against the unique backdrop of Paisley Abbey, and I am sure this year will be no different.

“Being the host of such a glamorous and international event is really helping to put Paisley on the map ahead of the town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.”

Entertainment starts in Paisley town centre at 4pm and is hosted by Clyde 1 DJs on the main stage. Activities include street performers, food vendors, and children’s entertainment including a giant Scalextric set and Sega rally simulator in Paisley Town Hall.

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STORY OF MONTE’S RETURN TO SCOTLAND RECOUNTED IN BOOK

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The story of a Dundee schoolboy’s dream of bringing the world famous Monte Carlo Classic Rally back to Scotland is the subject of a brand new book.

Douglas Anderson, was just 10 years old when he first saw grainy Pathe newsreels of glamorous cars leaving Glasgow on their odyssey to Monte Carlo.

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Immediately, he fell in the love with ‘the Monte’, a 2000 mile endurance rally across the Alps to the Principality, and vowed to bring the start back to Scotland.

It wasn’t until nearly fifty years later that Douglas, then in his early sixties, managed to achieve the dream people told him would never become a reality.

In 2011, the centenary event returned to Glasgow for the first time since 1973, and this month, around 60 classic cars are gearing up for the 2015 Start from Paisley.

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The book, ‘Depart D’Ecosse’ follows Douglas’ successful quest to return the start, which has brought £5 million to the nation’s economy and attracted global media coverage over 4 years, to its Scottish ‘home’.

And, as he has done since 2011, he will also be amongst the drivers heading across the Channel from Paisley to the sunshine of the French Riviera, on January 28th.

“I was at the cinema, as a young boy, and it was there that I first saw the newsreels of the Monte Carlo Rally. I was captivated by the beautiful cars, the adventure and the glamour and I wanted to go to Glasgow to see the drivers being waved off on their journey to France.

“My dad was working and I was too young to go through on my own from Dundee. As a result, I never, ever saw any of the old Scottish starts in the fifties and early sixties.

“Glasgow lost the event after 1973, as it evolved into a more commercially orientated rally, and I thought that my chance of ever seeing the Monte in real life had gone,” reflects Dr Anderson, a retired academic and now a volunteer motorsport event organiser.

Douglas’ desire to see the Monte back never dissipated, however, and – after his own children had grown up- he returned to his childhood interest in the Monte.

The book charts the steps to the event’s return, from the formation of a car club to convincing the organising club, the Automobile Club de Monaco, to choose Scotland as a start point.

Published by Argyll Publishing, there are fascinating stories from competitors and tales of pre-war cars, with no heaters and marginal brakes, ploughing through snowdrifts twice their height.

Legends of drivers towing 17ft caravans, piloting outlandish vehicles, enduring dramatic accidents and undertaking feats of heroism are all recounted.

The book, which contains previously unpublished images by photographer Stewart Ramsay and a foreword by Paddy Hopkirk, is expected to sell well amongst car fans and lovers of adventure and Scottish history.

“Everyone said that the Monte would never come back to Scotland. That was probably the spur I needed,” added Douglas.
“When the organisers in Monaco finally told us we had secured the Start in 2011, it felt like the end of a journey. It was actually only the beginning, as the book illustrates.”

The Monte Carlo Classic Rally has attracted almost 50 000 spectators since its return to Scotland in 2011.

Councillor Mark Macmillan, leader of Renfrewshire Council, which is hosting this year’s rally, said: “We are expecting another big crowd after thousands turned out to wave the cars off last year – a great occasion which is well documented in the book.

“Douglas’ research perfectly showcases the rich and varied history of this fantastic event and its long links with Scotland, and I am sure it will be a great read for any new and old motorsport fans.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Paisley in international spotlight as Monte Carlo Rally returns

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Paisley is getting set to shine in the international spotlight once again when the Monte Carlo Classic Rally returns to the town in the new year.

It was announced this week that Renfrewshire will again host the only UK start leg of the event – one of the most famous and glamorous in motorsport.

Paisley sits alongside Barcelona, Copenhagen, Turin and Reims as host cities for the start legs, placing the town in illustrious company.

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The Rally is coming back to Paisley after a very successful debut in 2014 when tens of thousands came out to see the ‘grand depart’ as cars headed off to France.

Around 70 cars – including classic Porsches, Mini Coopers and even Linwood-built Hillman Imps, went over the ramp in front of the striking backdrop of Paisley Abbey.

The 2015 event will take place in the same venue, with the cars setting off at 7pm on Wednesday 28 January.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan believes the decision to bring the Monte back to Paisley is a thumbs-up to the town’s growing standing as a venue.

He said: “We are thrilled to welcome such a prestigious and world-famous event as the Monte Carlo Classic Rally back to Paisley.

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“We have big plans to use events, culture and heritage to drive a wide-ranging programme of regeneration for the town, leading up to a bid for UK City of Culture in 2021.

“Being able to attract the only UK start of the Monte Carlo Classic Rally places the town in the international spotlight, and is a perfect fit for those plans.

“Between this, last month’s Spree festival and the upcoming Christmas Lights Switch-on, Paisley is firmly on the map as a destination for top-class events.”

This year’s rally will see rule changes meaning drivers leaving Scotland will have an extra night’s sleep on the 2,600km-trek through the Channel Tunnel and over the Alps to the south of France.

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Organisers believe the Monte has produced a £5 million economic spin-off since it returned to Scotland in 2011.

Douglas Anderson, chair of the Rally Start Committee, said: “The rule change is an endorsement of how much the French organisers value the Scottish start and we are looking forward to another great event, starting from Paisley Abbey.

“The changes will make the event more accessible for those wanting to start from Scotland. We’ve already had interest from Scandinavian crews for this year.”

Courtesy of Renfrewshire Council.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]