Ambitious £25 million proposals to create a Scottish motorsport heritage centre in an iconic Scottish setting are being driven forward by the creation of a charitable trust to fund the project.
Greats including Formula One legends Sir Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark tackled the historic Rest and Be Thankful in its heyday as a hillclimb and international rally stage, racing up and down the twisty stretch of road near Arrochar.
Tayside man Douglas Anderson is spearheading the campaign to celebrate the nation’s motorsport heroes past and present in the multi-million pound visitor attraction which would be set into the hillside near the old military road’s classic hairpin as a spectacular showroom for some of Scotland’s most famous racing cars.
An exhibition of the plans and a scale model of the centre has now opened at the Lighthouse arts and architectural centre in Glasgow and over the next two months the public are being asked for their comments – and support for the project.
Mr Anderson, from Dundee, has already been responsible for the return of the Monte Carlo Rally to Scotland in recent years and hopes his vision will breathe new life into the popular stopping place, generating a major tourism spend.
“The location at the Rest and Be Thankful has great significance in motorsport terms because of the famous hill climb races and international rallies,” he said.
“It was seen as the ultimate test for drivers in many ways because of the steepness and conditions and many greats like Jackie Stewart raced there. It is therefore the ideal place to celebrate Scotland’s impressive motorsport heritage.”
Mr Anderson continued: “The idea is to mark that connection within a permanent exhibition space but the project itself is much more than that. The building would be a multi-use facility which could be used by the local community for film, business and cultural events and there would also be retail and a restaurant area.”
Award-winning architects Kennedy Twaddle Architectural Design having designed the stunning building to utilise the stunning vista at the summit of the glen and although London-based, two of the firm’s four specialists are Scottish and three of them trained at Duncan of Jordanstone College in Dundee, where one of them is still based.
The concept has already been given the backing of three-time F1 world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, multiple British Touring Car Champion John Cleland and veteran Scottish rally driver Jimmy McRae.
Multiple former British Rally Champion Jimmy, father of Britain’s first World Rally Champion Colin and his brother Alister said the centre would be a fantastic attraction and tribute to Scotland’s place in international motorsport.
Jimmy, who still holds the record for the fastest run down the Rest and Be Thankful Rally stage, said: “The Rest is known around the world as one of the classic rally stages and is renowned by drivers and motorsport enthusiasts alike.
“This project is a tremendous initiative which would acknowledge the important part Scotland has played in international motorsport over many years.”
Mr Anderson said discussions with officials from Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, VisitScotland, Transport Scotland, MSPs and local politicians have already been been positive.
Councillor Aileen Morton, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council leader, Councillor Aileen Morton said: “This is a really innovative idea. If Douglas Anderson’s vision can be realised we would welcome the additional tourists the attraction would bring into the area.”
A digital fly through of the project is also available at http://www.thelighthouse.co.uk/visit/exhibition/rest-and-be-thankful-heritage-project