Natural talent - Don 'Sewer' Macleod
For years during the 1990s, Don ‘Sewer’ Macleod was best known for refereeing football matches in the Lewis and Harris league.
But now Don is making a name for himself in another sporting arena – that of Rallycross.
Don, who works for the UK Border Force in Kent, is originally from Tong.
He recently competed in the 2nd round of the Swift Sport Rallycross Championship at the MSA British Championship round held at Lydden Hill, near Dover.
There, he produced his best results of his short Rallycross career in all of his three heats, coming 8th overall and qualifying for the semi finals.
A progressive drive saw him finish 4th in his respective semi final and that saw him qualify in 8th for the second final in succession, after achieving similar success at Croft, near Darlington at the 1st round in March.
“I knew that a semi final place was a possibility due to the numbers competing, but you still have to push yourself to achieve the best times you can,” said Don.
“Lydden Hill is an excellent circuit and having competed here twice before I have a level of confidence which I do not have at other circuits. My heat times were faster than when I competed here last year and lap times were on average a second and a half quicker than my best times in 2016.”
“I started the Final where I started in Croft and took advantage of the joker lap immediately in an effort to give myself a chance if any of my fellow competitors had an issue. The car in front spun and I got past him and found myself in an advantageous position. I pushed hard and knew that most other cars were still to take their joker lap.
“Fortunately, I kept them at bay and finished in 4th position, one step from the podium.”
It was during his formative years in Tong that Don developed a love of motorsports.
He was in the original Lewis Car Club, and is a regular Formula One expert on BBC Radio nan Gaidheal.
“Where I live in England is only 12 miles from Lydden Hill, which is regarded as the home of Rallycross,” Don said.
“I saw an article in the local paper about a guy who lives in the same town as I do, a place called Deal, who competed in the British Rallycross Championship driving a Suzuki Swift.
“So I met him for a drink and asked how he had got into it, and he basically said that if he could do it, anyone could.
“That got me interested, and shortly after that I saw a tweet from Peter Gwynne Motorsport advertising a come-and-try Rallycross session.
“So I decided to buy that as a Christmas present for myself.”
Despite that session being held in what Don calls ‘a typical Stornoway day’ – namely pouring rain – he did a full nine laps with an instructor and was instantly hooked.
“He said to me that I had an aptitude for Rallycross and there were options available if I wanted to pursue it further,” said Don.
“He told me that I could actually rent a car and do a round of the British Championships
“I got in touch with Sarah Watson at Peter Gwynne Motorsport, and they put together a package for me to hire one of their cars for the event.
“I had to apply for my licence, and buy all the relevant safety gear”
On his first competitive experience, Don came 9th out of 16 competitors.
“That was way beyond my expectations,” he said.
“The buzz was incredible. I had never done any close-quarter racing up until then and I could totally understand why people get into competitive motorsport.”
Don races under the banner of Donmac Racing, and receives no sponsorship – he pays for the hire of his vehicle, and if it gets damaged during a race he is liable for the repairs.
“I’m lucky I can indulge in my passion as I don’t have any major distractions like a partner, children or sheep,” he laughed.
“It costs a significant amount of money to do, but it’s something I love doing.”
And following his last outing, he now looks forward to his next race event in June.
“When I crossed the line in 4th place I was ecstatic and the feeling of accomplishment was brilliant,” said Don.
He added: “I feel lucky to be able to have this opportunity and it is tantamount to the hard work of my team Peter Gwynne Motorsport and their staff that I can compete at this level.
“It is even more fulfilling when friends and colleagues come along to support me.”
Follow Don’s progress here - https://www.facebook.com/donmacracing/
Don in action
The Suzuki Swift carries 150 brake horsepower