A firm set up in a garage selling race car parts and accessories now employs four members of the same family and supplies gear to professionals, royals and TV stars
A motorsport parts business set up to help fund a husband’s racing hobby has grown into a family firm supplying Formula One teams – and even Prince William.
McGill Motorsportbased near Kirkaldy, Scotland, sells all sorts of racecar parts and clothing for drivers.
It was set up by Rachel McGill, 61, from her garage in 2005 to help subsidise her husband Billy’s hobby of racing and buying car parts for himself.
Rachel’s three sons now work for the company, and they have achieved huge success, supplying Rally WRC and Formula One teams.
Unusually, they have also supplied racewear to a royal – Prince William, who wore the firm’s togs when he took part in electric car racing in May 2021.
“There’s no cheap form of motorsport,” Rachel explained. “My husband was involved in contact sports on an oval racing track, so the cars hit the wall a lot and there was a lot of things that needed replacing.”
He worked for a US company at the time, and found replacement parts were much cheaper in the states.
Local racing car drivers in Scotland started to take notice and began asking Billy to bring back parts for them – and the idea for McGill Motorsport was born.
“We got extra stock, and we decided we needed to sell it,” Rachel went on. “We started it on eBay, as it was low cost and maximum exposure. We did that and never looked back.”
At the time Rachel had spent 30 years working in the banking sector.
“I was a mortgage advisor at a bank at the time and I was cautious, but eventually I got so busy I decided to quit my job,” she said.
The business was founded by Rachel and her son Ross, who had a structural engineering degree.
The company’s eBay sales never slowed down, but as the product range got bigger McGill motorsport set up a separate website and got its own shop.
“Initially we were doing from our double garage,” Rachel said. ” But once the product range got bigger we moved to bigger premises.”
Later down the line her other two sons, Ryan and Liam, who both worked in the oil industry, both came on board.
All Rachel’s sons have a love for motorsports, which she said means they can put themselves in the customer’s position with every interaction.
But the McGill’s don’t just sell racing car parts and kit – they invent them too.
One example is an improved set of scales, used to weigh cars when tuning them for maximum speed.
Their innovation was to use Bluetooth wireless connections to do this, rather than old-fashioned cables, and the idea was a hit.
“It’s quicker and it’s a world first,” Rachel explained.
Part of the McGill ethos is to sell parts at competitive prices.
“We are very cheap and we found that difficult at first, as people were suspicious and asked how we could sell things so cheap,” Rachel explained.
“We had that until we got our name out there. That was during 2008 when we had the financial crash. A lot of people gave up hobbies at the time, but motorsport isn’t a hobby it’s a passion, and people didn’t because to give that up.”
Now McGill Motorsport sells parts to several Formula One and rally racing teams – though Rachel cannot say who.
They also sell products and clothing to several TV shows, including racewear to a BBC show called The Fast and the Farmer-ish, where farmers compete to race tractors.
An upcoming computer game also wants to buy rally car parts from McGill Motorsport, to make their game more realistic.
But the firm’s main aim is to support drivers in “every sector of motorsport”, Rachel said, from individual drivers to car builders.
The company now employs 13 people – though Rachel jokes they’ve had to hire non-McGills due to “running out of family”.
The coronavirus pandemic hit many businesses hard, and Rachel said this was true for McGill – but only for a couple of months.
“For six weeks to two months turnover did take a nosedive, but then it increased at a rate of knots,” she said.
“I think part of it was these racers have a passion for it. Many needed a project during lockdown. They are always looking to improve the speed and quality of the car, and so they were still spending money on their cars – and of course had a lot more time at home to do that. So the parts section of the business did really well.”
Rachel said the future for McGill Motorsport would involve slow growth, but not at the cost of driving away their current customers.
She said: “One thing I would say about our sector is it’s a niche business so we can’t rely on customers buying once then going away, we need to keep them coming back. We have a lot of returning, loyal customers.
“We would like to see the turnover going up and profit being reasonable. “We have grandchildren coming along and we’d like to think we’re leaving a legacy.”