Knockhill: the place for true motorsport fans

In a sporting world which is so often dominated by corporate big bucks and lavish hospitality packages, it’s always brilliantly refreshing to visit Knockhill. This weekend the Fife circuit hosts the annual visit of the British Touring Car Championship; today though it was the turn of the British Superbike Championship. And, as ever, Knockhill — in so many ways — delivered.First there’s the weather. Now I know the guys at Knockhill will not praise me for mentioning it, but the circuit does have something of a reputation for having its own eco-climate. Unfortunately, that generally means that when a national championships rolls on to the pitlane, the skies open; yesterday was no different.After a morning of showers, the skies parted for the opening race of the BSB double-header, eventually won by Rizla Suzuki’s Tom Sykes. But, as if on queue, a split second after the marshall dropped the red flag to start the warm-up lap for the second counter, the big black threatening cloud overhead decided to unleash its stair rods. As the riders returned to the haven of their garages to fit wet-weather tyres and kit themselves out with waterproofs, the crowd — or at least the majority —got soaked.That’s the second factor which ensures Knockhill always delivers: the crowd. It’s also Knockhill’s greatest strength; the support it receives from Scotland’s motorsport aficionados.Forget hospitality packages. As the skies opened, stoic fans either just stood and got soaked, accepting that, well, this is just Knockhill weather; or took shelter under a myriad of battered umbrellas, polythene sheeting, or even soggy raceday programmes.“Heh, it’s always like this, so why should we be bothered,” Alan Robertson from Cambuslang laughed. “We come to every major event at Knockhill — we’ll be back next weekend for touring cars — but we know there’s always a chance we’re going to get soaked.“But what brings us back is the fact it’s always such a terrific day out. The tightness of the circuit always means we have fantastic racing; and the family love it.” Family? Oh yes. Alan was there with his wife Helen, and three kids Robert (11), Emma (9) and Alan (6).“The kids wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he continued. “They love the noise, the hustle and the bustle. And honestly; they never even mention the rain.”And you see, that’s exactly the way the vast majority of paying punters feel. Sure those who attended simply because their company gave them a couple of free tickets — you can always spot them because the wife is inevitably dressed in killer heels totally unsuited to the gravel paths, soggy grass and puddles — don’t like the inclement weather. But the real fans? Well they’re there for the racing. Getting soaked just makes it more fun.And finally, there’s the food. Forget about paying four quid for a pint of beer or quaffing a chilled bottle of Chablis. This is hot food for real people. Burger vans with freshly fried onions; steaming hot chips and polystyrene cups of luke warm coffee or tea is generally the order of the day.Forget T in the Park; bring on Picnic at Knockhill. Minutes after the skies had opened prior to the dramatic second BSB race, eventually won by Honda’s Leon Haslam, the skies cleared and the sun was splitting the pavement (ok, the grassy sloped viewing areas). And what did I catch a glimpse of? Alan’s three kids sat on the newly-unfurled travelling rug digging their hands into the Tupperware boxfull of sandwiches made by mum.Corporate hospitality? Forget it. Knockhill’s the place to be for real, dyed-in-the-wool motorsport fans. The great thing is, they’ll all be back at the weekend for the British Touring Car Championship. And if it rains? Who cares?JM 

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