IT was 1950 and motor racing had just arrived in the north-east of Scotland for the very first time...a thriving fishing town, Peterhead, and a small coastal village, Boddam, came forward to host the racing drivers and their ‘steeds’ who came here to play.
Some 60 years later and motor enthusiast Terry Wright is hoping to commemorate those heddy days with a gathering of fellow enthusiasts who may recall the hill climbs of Buchan and the action of the Crimond race track.
Terry, who lives in Boddam’s Rocksley Drive, has had a lifelong interest and cars having worked for the Lotus racing team during the 1960s and 1970s and today still drives his prized 1956 Lotus 11 around the Buchan countryside.
He featured in the Buchan Observer just over two years ago when he identified a mystery ‘Back in the Day’ photograph featuring motorcycles racing at the Crimond track.
That article spawned a host of phone calls and visits to his Boddam home, but one man in particular set the ball rolling for Terry to investigate another aspect of motorsport in this small corner of the world - hill racing.
Two years of research later, Terry has discovered a sport that was incredibly popular in the 1950s and 60s and which still has fond memories for many fellow sport enthusiasts today.
Terry explained: “Since the last article during the past two years I’ve been researching motorsport in the area and discovered that hill climbing was a very popular pursuit.
“I discovered this through one gentleman in particular, Frank Aanstey, who was born and bred in Peterhead and got in touch following the article in 2008.
“When the war broke out Frank was faced with a dilemma of either working at sea or joining the Armed Forces. Having always wanted to travel he joined the Army and during his time in the Army he learned how to drive.
“After the war he returned to Peterhead but because he had a driving licence he was able to drive lorries from the town down to London as a job, something which often took him a week to complete,” said Terry.
“It was while down in England that he went along to a few motor races and he became hooked on the sport and became heavily involved in motorsport.
“In 1949-50, Crimond was an old airfield and having been relinquished by the Armed Forces it was turned into a motor racing circuit and Frank took to that in a big way and began organising events there.”
Terry said teams would come up to Crimond on a Saturday morning, practice racing and in the afternoon they would have the race at Crimond.
“However, the young lads who watched the races would come away from the circuit and would tear around the village streets and act in a very dangerous manner,” he said.
“After hearing about this two or three of the serious drivers came to see what was going on and realised that these young lads were driving dangerously and while they could not stop them, they offered to show them how to drive properly and it was from here that the hill climb was bourne.”
Terry explained that cars would go up the hill track one at a time and over a certain distance. Young lads who could not drive were included as they were handed flags and placed at the more dangerous corners to warn drivers of any impending danger ahead.
“Following the hill race all the drivers would congregate in Peterhead where they would enjoy a fish supper or a pie at a chip shop run by a Mr Ferrari. He would keep the chip shop open til late for the drivers to come along and talk about their day,” he said.
“Bit by bit it became very, very professional and the hill climbs attracted more and more drivers to the area and they went on for around ten years.
“However, something happened and the big racing at Crimond began to fizzle out and with it the hill racing, but it was always something that was close to Frank’s heart,” he said.
While Frank was up visiting Terry, the pair went to the Crimond track and then came along the back roads on the way back to Boddam.
“Frank said he remembers one of the roads where they did the hill climbs and he said he had lots of pictures of these races,” said Terry.
“He had tears running down his face as the journey had brought back many fond memories for him and he seemed really touched by it all.
“However, unfortunately that was the last time I saw Frank and he was quite ill and died a short time later and that’s another reason why I want to see if I can reunite people who remember these climbs - in honour of Frank.”
Terry said he has spent the past two years trying to get in touch with old friends and drivers, looking through magazines and finding out more information.
“Things are coming in in dribs and drabs but this year I thought it would be special to mark the 60th anniversary of these races,” he said.
“Ideally I would like to see some sort of gathering of fellow enthusiasts who can recall the races in this area and perhaps get some sort of plaque erected with a few names on it.
“This only happened a relatively short time ago, but it’s amazing the amount of people who live in Peterhead and the surrounding area who have no idea about these races,” he said.
“This is something for Peterhead and Boddam in particular to be proud of and I’m sure there are people out there who have plenty of memories regarding these races.
If all these memories just disappear it would be terrible.
“I recall going to the library in Peterhead some 16 or 17 years ago and they had all the cuttings from the paper of the time and I went through them and we found four of the cars that raced here and I actually have them at the moment,” he said.
“I am good friends with Sir Stirling Moss and I wrote to him about the hill climbs and what I would like to see done for the 60th anniversary and he said that if I could get enough people together to make it worth his time, then he would love to come along.
“If anyone has any memories, or would like to come along to a special gathering, then I would love to hear from them,” he added.
Anyone who can help Terry can contact him on (01779) 478220 or write to him at Bay Ridge, 15 Rocksley Drive, Boddam, Peterhead, AB42 3BA.