Colin Maclean at CMPIt seems that throughout most of my adult life I have always had the influence of those special folks whose lives were tempered to toughness by the harsh climate of Scotland. As early as my twenties, I often rubbed fenders with World Champion, Jimmy Clark, when he drove Lotus Ford Cortinas in Europe, and sadly, I was there the day he died in the forest mist at the Hockingheim Ring in Germany in a Formula II. He had always driven with such perfection in Formula I that all of us who had been fortunate enough to know him were stunned.
After returning to the States from my racing days in Europe, I met another young Scot, Bill Lamont. He and I ran the streets of Atlanta for fun, won soccer championships in the semi-pro leagues as teammates, and he was my best man when I married for the second time.
Therefore, it only seems appropriate that my return to racing, after more than 30 years, should again involve a young man from Scotland. His name is Colin MacLean, and though he is half my age, we bonded with our first conversation. He respected my history of racing with some of his childhood heroes, and despite his quiet, reserved manners, I could easily see the fire and determination in the depth of his eyes that I had seen in Jimmy Clark.
Colin’s passion for motor racing began very young, and though I could tell the story from my conversations with him, I believe that his recollection is better than mine. So, in his own words, here is Colins story:
“As a young lad growing up in Fife, Scotland, you can’t help but have motor-racing in your blood. I vividly remember watching in awe at my local race track as the motorcycles with sidecars flew by at incomprehensible speeds. I remember thinking that I’d much rather be the one riding than the one hanging on.
I also recall watching the open-wheeled and “saloon” cars and how much fun they looked to drive and how brave their drivers were. The local track was no more than 12 feet wide and was completely lined with trees barely 3 feet from the track.
I would also spend Saturday nights at the local circle track (Stock Cars), but I would always daydream about “real” road racing. It never entered my mind that one day I would be doing it!
For my 18th birthday, my parents bought me an afternoon at the Knockhill Racing Circuit in a Formula First. Formula First is a scaled-down Formula Ford. This car had street tires and was limited to 4000 rpm, but to me, I might as well have been driving a Formula I car. From that point on I was hooked. The car was responsive, nimble, and so utterly compelling to drive that I knew I was done with just watching racing, it was time to join in!
For the next few years, as a student, my scant resources limited my racing to karts. Our local track rented out twin-engined pro karts, which were a blast to drive and taught everything one needed to know about going fast sideways. I would jump in those karts every chance I got, but I always wondered how I could get back behind the wheel of a “real” racing car.
Fast-forward a few years and now I’m living in Atlanta, USA. Life’s changed a lot since those days in Scotland, but some things have remained the same. My unwavering passion for motor racing and the unchanging desire to drive a racing car again is still very much alive.
I had been driving a Miata as my street car, but my love for motor racing was going to get me too closely acquainted with the long arm of the law. Therefore, as a “grown up” I knew I had to make the decision to go racing now, or put it behind me. They say you only live once so I figured why not!
It was around that time the phenomenon known as Spec Miata was becoming increasingly popular, and it caught my attention. I already had the car, the tools, and the mechanical know-how. The cars are reliable, cheap to build, and an absolute hoot to drive. The class seemed tailor-made for me, so I decided to test the waters by taking my turbocharged and thoroughly tricked out car to Road Atlanta for a track day. Luckily for me, I was paired with an instructor with many years of Miata racing experience, Rob Ebersol. I asked Rob to take me round in my car and by the end of that first flying lap the decision was made. It was time to go racing.
That winter the car went up on jacks and the transformation began. Before I knew it, what was once a street car was now a race car. It was suddenly February and time for race school. In the back of my mind I really didn’t believe it was happening. I had my own racing car and I was on my way to (hopefully) acquire my racing license. Was I dreaming?”
Colin wasnt dreaming, and thanks to his Scottish determination that I had seen in his eyes at our first meeting and his natural talent, even with an almost stock Miata, young Colin MacLean turned the fastest lap for a Miata at the drivers school at Roebling Road. Then, he went on to run in the upper third of most of the SCCA Spec Miata races in the Southeast, and made the front runners aware of his presence.
For 2005, Colin will be driving his familiar # 68 Miata with a new paint scheme as part of the LoansQuick.com Racing Team. As I knew he would, Colin has come a long way in his first year in SCCA, but the boys and girls up front better be looking in their mirrors….this Flying Scot is on his way to the top!