Almost 62 years to the day since he launched the career of Scotland’s greatest racing driver, Ian Scott Watson has been recognised by the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers (ASMW).
The Jim Clark Memorial Award, handed out annually in memory of the Fife-born racing star, took place at Mar Hall near Glasgow on Saturday.
The award acknowledges the contribution of Scots to the world of motoring.
This year’s event, sponsored by Jaguar, was particularly special, coming on the 50th anniversary of Jim Clark’s death.
Jim Clark was launched on his way to two world championships and a record series of Grand Prix victories at Crimond, Aberdeenshire on 26 June 1956.
Convinced of his talent, his friend Scott Watson persuaded him to take part in a race run by the Aberdeen and District Motor Club.
Their 250 mile drive from the Borders to the windswept disused airfield eight miles from Fraserborough took five hours – there being no Forth road bridge or motorway in 1956.
Scott Watson initially had Clark as his reserve driver but, discovering Clark was three seconds a lap faster than him in practice, quickly promoted him.
He spent years promoting Clark until his career got off the ground, supplying him with cars including a Porsche and a Lotus Elite.
Scott Watson said of his friend: “I may not have been a judge of what was required to make a grand prix driver, but I could tell from the way Jimmy drove both on the road and on the track that he was exceptionally quick.
“On the road he was amazing, perfect to sit beside. His driving was smooth, and his anticipation marvellous.
“It was difficult to know why he did not feel confident about his own ability. He chewed his fingers even then. He lacked confidence, yet when he got on the track it was totally forgotten. He gave it everything and drove superbly.”
Sir Jackie Stewart described Clark as “the best driver I ever raced with and against.”
Clark won two grand prix world championships and America’s Indianapolis 500 before being killed in a Formula Two racing accident in Germany on April 7, 1968.
His death acted as a catalyst for improved motor racing safety, including the introduction of seat belts.
Scott Watson was presented with his award by ASMW lifetime member, former Sunday Times motoring writer Eric Dymock, who said: “We’ve waited until now to give you the Jim Clark Memorial Award.
“You really should have been one of the first. Without you there probably wouldn’t have been any others. Jackie Stewart, David Coulthard, Ian and Moray Callum or Tom Walkinshaw, might never have got theirs.
“You created a Scottish motor racing legend.”