17 - Paul Reid
"I was really looking forward to the start of the 2014 formula II stock car season especially the way that I finished the 2013 season” Paul Reid explained.” I hit a really good patch just after the mid season and picked up quite a few wins. However that comes with its own problems. I had been racing from the yellow grade and the points I had scored meant that I would be ending up as either a blue or red grade at the end of the season.
Paul hails from Cowdenbeath and is a motor mechanic with Woodend Garage and has long been one of the regular formula II drivers at the Racewall. “My first ever race should have been a World Championship qualifying round but was talked out it. That night John Fortune and Chalky White had their big crash so it was maybe a wise decision. Mind you it didn’t make it any easier when I did make my appearance the following week.
I haven’t missed a formula II meeting since midway through 2011 when I returned after serving a race suspension. I have had a few hard shunts in my time the worst came when I broke my back in a heavy shunt in September 2004 and was in a special spinal bed for six weeks before I was allowed to move. One Saturday night when I was checking out the ceiling, as usual, I heard a familiar voice – it was fellow racer Billy McGill and he was in a bed across from me. He had injured his hand at the racing. I took the following year out to recover and once I felt fully fit I decided to return to the racing. I appeared at a Knockhill meeting, there are not really any wall there and plenty of run off areas so if I felt uncomfortable I could pull off. That wasn’t the case and it felt really good to be back racing.
I had been racing for 21 years and believe it or not in 2013 I had my best ever season! At what should have been the last formula II meeting of the season at the Racewall I had one of my strongest and most successful meetings and came away with two big trophies.
It started off on the Sunday afternoon when I won the white/yellow challenge series final and then next time out I won the Champion of Champions race. You have to qualify for both of these races but in the white/yellow challenge series final I made a good start and once I got into the lead it proved to be quite an easy win. However the Champion of Champions race is only open to drivers who have won a race at Cowdenbeath and can prove to be a hard race. However again I made a good start to the race and had soon built up a useful lead. Even when Gordon Moodie and Chris Burgoyne appeared in my mirrors I just kept going and ended up winning the race by a big margin. It was my best ever meeting s. The following week we had our last outing of the season - a meeting at the start of the season had been cancelled and rescheduled for November. Again it proved good for me – I won two heats and secured my place in 2014’s Champion of Champions race.
When the gradings were announced I was the top points scorer in the country for a yellow grade driver and thankfully I only moved up to the blue grade but it meant that I wouldn’t be able to defend my white/yellow title.
I had been a red grade driver before and remember my first race from that grade. I was on the track early and moved to my new starting grade position hoping to start from the back. No chance the rest of the red grade drivers came out and lined up around me. I think I lasted a couple of laps before being shunted out of the way. What a welcome to the red grade!
New Car Challenges
In 2013 I had started to build a new chassis but had to stop building the chassis as it was difficult to keep my own one running and finding time to work on the new car. In the end I focussed on the car that I was racing and put the new one on hold.
It hadn’t helped that there had been a lot of rule changes, most not being announced until late in the season. I did the changes to my old car first before looking at the new one. However I had the car ready for the new season and after the way I had finished the season was hoping for some good progress.
How wrong I was! I suffered from brake problems at the first meeting. They were alright when the meeting started but they quickly disappeared! There was no evidence of a leak. I spent most of the week checking over the system but couldn’t find the problem. After a few weeks I had replaced most things but when I replaced the new master cylinder it cured the fault! However that proved to be only the tip of the problems. The car just wouldn’t handle and no matter what I did I just couldn’t make it any better! I changed shockies, springs the lot but nothing would make it handle. By this time I had dropped to the yellow grade and instead of improving I had gone backwards! It didn’t help getting involved in one or two shunts which wiped out any slight progress that you might have made.
The Racewall closes for a fortnight mid season and during that time a lot of drivers head down to Skegness where we have a two day meeting. I decided to take my old car and managed to win a race and quickly made up my mind to use this car for the remainder of the season.
It certainly made a difference although I then encountered mechanical problems and even when I got a replacement cylinder head I still had a problem. Gordon Moodie offered me the use of one of his engines and it was like night and day. The car was quick and I started to pick up some really good results.
At the formula II World Final I led nearly every race that I was in but fell foul to race suspensions. When there is a race suspension the field slows and then lines up behind the lead car. In most cases I was the lead car but any advantage that I had built up during the race had gone and you usually find that it’s the top drivers who are right behind you. You might lead for a lap or so but they soon move you over and as a result you drop down the order. That happened to me quite a lot last year - it's the lower grade drivers curse!
Like the previous year I ended the season on a high note but didn’t manage to record a win. I ended up in seventh place in the Champion of Champions race and then sixth in the final and Grand National which brought my season to a close.
My brother Craig used my new chassis towards the end of the season and we may have ironed out a couple of problems. Over the close season I am going to move the rear suspension from inboard to out board and then see if that makes any difference. I think I might just be using the old chassis this year but time will tell. At this stage I will continue to use the 2 litre Pinto engine ass I have plenty of parts instead of swapping to the Zetec but once they begin to disappear I will consider a change.
Over the years I have had good support from my sponsors and mechanics and really without their support and help it would be very difficult to carry on. I would like to thank my finance Nicola for putting up with some of the long hours I spend working on the car in the garage and to my sons Paul and Callum for all the help they give me at the racing especially if I have damaged the car. There is not a lot of time between races and without their help I wouldn’t always make the next race.”
- With thanks to Paul and Jim Turner for the profile -