A Kincardine-based father of three who was told he probably would not walk again after a serious road accident, then went on in 2001 to win one of the top titles in British motorsport, is the 2003 winner of the Jim Clark Memorial Award, presented by the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers.

Graeme Wight Jr (32) not only became the first Scot to win the British Hillclimb Championship after a spirited recovery from his serious spinal injuries but just to prove it was no fluke he won it again the following year in his Cosworth-powered Gould GR51 car.

"Graeme's story is an inspiration to all who strive to achieve success in sporting action, not just motorsport," said Graeme Giles, president of the ASMW. "His nomination was unanimously endorsed by our members."

The Jim Clark Memorial Award is given to a Scot or Scots who have achieved excellence in the field of motoring, on four wheels or two, and not only for motorsport success. Previous winners have included Sir Jackie Stewart, Colin McRae, Alan McNish, Jaguar director of design Ian Callum, road safety academic, Professor Murray MacKay of Birmingham University and most recently, three Ford design staff who helped develop the new Ford Fiesta, Nancy Brown, Nicola Ralston and Isobel Stenhouse.

"Having had surgery and being told that I would probably not walk again and then spending 10 weeks in hospital, eight of them on a spinal board, I had plenty of time to gather my thoughts and think of the future," said Graeme who lives in Drumoak, near Banchory, with his wife Sally and children Caitlin (3) and 10 month-old twins Ellie and Charlie.

"All the time I was in hospital I just wanted to get back into a car, especially a racing one. Had someone told me then that I would go on to win the British Hillclimb Championship twice I would have thought them nuts.

"And now to win this award, I can tell you I am absolutely delighted - Jim Clark is a hero of mine," Graeme added.

The Jim Clark Memorial Memorial Award will be presented to Graeme on Saturday evening, May 17 in St. Andrews at a dinner attended by Jim Clark's sister, Mrs. Betty Peddie. This will be the 33rd year the Award has been given and, as in all the previous years, the event is supported by Ford Motor Company Limited. It was Jim Clark who, in a Lotus 49 at the Dutch Grand Prix in 1967 gave Ford its first ever formula one win with the new Ford-Cosworth grand prix engine.

Published : 12/05/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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