Kelk Cottage, Crosshouse, Kilmarnock, Scotland UK KA2 OBG
In the 18 years of its existence Ayrshire Vintage Tractor and Machinery Club has never organised anything so successful as the 1999 National Road Run.
It has been staged on sites all over England in the previous 13 years with the aim of raising money for charity. For its first time in Scotland, a scenic site on the west coast of Scotland was chosen for the event. The location was on an airstrip adjacent to the world famous Turnberry Golf Course and Hotel.
The airstrip proved to be an outstanding location for the event. From the now unused runway, planes had flown in two World Wars. A monument to those who flew from there and gave their lives in two wars reminded us of less happy times at Turnberry.
The 26-mile route chosen for the run was both scenic and historic. Within a few miles of the start, the first off-road section took the tractors to Culzean Estate, which is the property of The National Trust of Scotland. The castle within the estate is one of the country's best known properties. President Eisenhower was given the life rental of an apartment there in recognition of his war service.
A few miles further along, the tractor encountered 'The Electric Brae.' This is a hill where one gets the impression of freewheeling uphill. It is all an optical illusion; the only one similar, I understand, is in Newfoundland.
After about ten miles along the Ayrshire coast, the tractors took a steep rise into the 3,000 foot Carrick Hills. On descending, a lunch break was taken at a convenient dairy farm. Coffee and hamburgers were much appreciated. The latter part of the route took us over a piece of road where John Loudon McCaddam, the pioneer of hard top roads, conducted his first experiments.
Of the 432 starters, 428 finished the course. In addition to the four who did not complete the course there were a few who needed minor repairs on the route. Participants came from all over the British Isles. Fifty tractors crossed the sea by ferry from Ireland; the furthest traveled on the mainland had been transported 450 miles. Main makes taking part were: Ferguson and related makes, 146; Ford, 84; David Brown, 60; Marshall,46; Nuffield, 27; and seven John Deere.
From USA, Gerald Fank and Steve Miller with their wives had flown from Atwater, Minnesota to be with us. They all appreciated meeting the participants at the social evening where Scottish music and hospitality was provided.
The men shared the driving of a local 1963 Ferguson 35X. The ladies donated a quilt which was a major prize in the raffle.
Thousands of spectators were at the airstrip and stationed all along the route. The response to the charity appeal was excellent. Local charities benefited to the sum of over $27,000,
For the event this was a record number of tractors as well as a record sum for charity. We are grateful to all those who gave their time and talent to make this event an outstanding success.