In a moving and emotional evening for Scottish motorsport, the father and son instrumental in guiding the early careers of Scotland’s main racers — including David Coulthard, Allan McNish and Dario Franchitti — were marked at the annual Scottish Motor Racing Club awards in Edinburgh.
The life of David Leslie Jnr, tragically killed in a plane crash near Farnborough on March 30 this year, was marked by the presentation to his wife, Jane, of the John Romanes Trophy, awarded to the Scot who has displayed ‘excellence in motorsport throughout his career.’
Acknowledgement of the contribution to Scottish motorsport by his father, David Leslie Snr, came when the veteran received the coveted Stewart Medal donated by triple Formula One champ, and former SMRC president, Sir Jackie Stewart.
Such was the Leslies’ ability to identify and nurture young, raw racing talent that their influence on Scottish motorsport can never be underestimated.
The pair guided F1 racer Coulthard, double Le Mans 24-Hours winner McNish and Indy500 winner Franchitti to Formula Ford Championships in their formative years before handing them over to the tutelage of Jackie Stewart and his Paul Stewart Racing team.
“Quite honestly, I don’t think David or I, or Dario would have gone so far in motorsport if it had not been for the help and support we got early on from David and his dad,” McNish, now President of the SMRC, told the 300 guests at the gala event in Edinburgh’s Sheraton Hotel.
“They were both key figures in developing our early race careers and we all owe them so much. Of course it’s tragic that David Jnr can not be here this evening, but Scottish motorsport will forever be in his debt.” It was a sentiment echoed by Leslie Snr.
“I know David would have been very touched to receive this award and hear the words of praise,” the Dumfries veteran explained. “He lived first to race, and then to help forge the careers of young Scottish racers. That was his life.”
As a mark of respect to Leslie Jnr — who won nine races in the British Touring Car Championship where he competed for Vauxhall, Nissan and Honda — the Ecurie Ecosse C2 sportscar, in which he won at Le Mans, was on display at the event.
Amongst the other main prizewinners, 38-year-old McNish — who not only won Le Mans 24-Hours for Audi, but also the 12-hour Petit Le Mans despite starting two laps behind the rest of the field — received the William Lyons Trophy, presented for the Best Performance of a Scot in International Sportscar Racing.
Edinburgh’s Formula Ford ace Graham Carroll, meanwhile, collected the Rothman’s Trophy for the Top Scot in a UK Championship.
And there was consolation for Bathgate’s Paul Di Resta. The 22-year-old, who finished runner-up in the German Touring Car Championship despite multiple wins in his Mercedes, was awarded the Callands Trophy for his performances in an international championship.