David Leslie tribute at Knockhillposted in BTCC07 | 09 | 2016

    DAVID LESLIE, THE man responsible — along with his father, David Snr — for developing the early careers of David Coulthard, Allan McNish and Dario Franchitti, will be marked by a special race event this weekend at Knockhill.

    Dumfries-born Leslie, one of the most likeable guys in motorsport and someone I was privileged to spend a lot of time with, died aged 54 when the Cessna in which he was a passenger crashed just after taking off from Farnborough on March 30, 2008.

    Each year, top Formula Ford racers from up and down the country converge at Knockhill to race head-to-head for the coveted David Leslie Trophy. This weekend the event will also include the new Super Touring Car Festival.

    Leslie played a pivotal role for Scotland’s iconic sportscar team, Ecurie Ecosse.

    He scored the team’s first World Championship points at Monza in 1984 in a brand new and untested Ecosse C2, by finishing second, before helping Ecurie Ecosse to second place in the C2 world title in 1985.

    In 1986 he then won Ecurie Ecosse its C2 world championship by one point by winning in Japan.

    In 1987 he helped us to second place in the C2 world championship, but more importantly won the coveted index of performance at Le Mans.

    Leslie then drove for the team in the BTCC, beating the works Vauxhalls and helping Ecurie Ecosse and Ray Mallock win the Vauxhall works contract. Disappointingly, he was overlooked for a drive for the ‘works’ team when it opened to put John Cleland in the car.


    The Leslies were responsible for introducing the talented young Scots trio to single-seaters before they went on to global success in Formula 1, IndyCar and Le Mans respectively.

    Competing under the David Leslie Racing banner, the achieved notable national success, and the David Leslie Trophy is a testament to that legacy which spawned some of the greatest racing talent Scotland has ever seen.

    It’s a fact not lost on ex-Formula One, FIA World Endurance Champion and three-time Le Mans 24 Hour Winner, McNish.


    “Scotland has a rich history in motorsport, and in David Leslie, this was a man that inspired a generation,” the 46-year-old from Dumfries, and current president of the Scottish Motor Racing Club, said.

    “I grew up with the name of David Leslie in my household, with my family supporting and Dad, spannering for David in his Formula Ford days; then when I started karting and moved to car racing, it was with the Leslie family.

    “Therefore, all I’ve achieved in my time was deeply influenced by David, especially in those early days. The same can be said for David (Coulthard) and Dario (Franchitti), so I think we should, quite rightly, have fond memories of David.


     “As for this weekend, I hope everyone has a fantastic time, seeing all those legendary cars that he raced, but also, some of the legendary drivers like Frank Biela, that he raced against in the British Touring Car Championship.

    “The whole event will be a great tribute to the Leslie family.”

    Leslie’s career, included five karting titles, the Formula Ford Championship in 1978; British F3, World Sportscar and BTCC appearances, including works drives with Vauxhall, Nissan, Mazda and Proton.


    Leslie’s highest finish in the BTCC came in 1999 when he raced for the Vodafone Nissan Racing Team behind the wheel of the Nissan Primera GT, finishing second in the championship behind teammate Laurent Aiello. Leslie’s Nissan BTCC racer will be on display this weekend at Knockhill.

    In addition to the Primera, Leslie’s RML Aston Martin Le Mans car will also be on display; and the Honda Accord he raced back in 1996 will be on track with legendary Touring Car driver Gabriele Tarquini behind the wheel.

    Members of the Leslie family will also be on hand to join the celebrations.

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    Jim McGill


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