A company that started in a garage and sells race car parts and accessories now employs four members of the same family and supplies gear to professionals, royals and TV stars
A motorsports parts company that started to fund one man’s racing hobby has grown into a family business supplying Formula One teams – and even Prince William.
McGill Motorsportbased near Kirkaldy, Scotland sells all types of racing car parts and driver apparel.
It was started in 2005 by Rachel McGill, 61, in her garage to subsidize 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 great success supplying Rally WRC and Formula 1 teams.
Unusually, they’ve also supplied racewear to a king – Prince William, who wore the company’s gear when he was participated in electric car races in May 2021.
“There is no such thing as a cheap form of motorsport,” explained Rachel. “My husband was involved in contact racing on an oval circuit, so the cars used to hit the wall a lot and there were a lot of things that needed replacing.”
He was working for a US company at the time and found that spare parts were much cheaper in the States.
Local racers in Scotland took notice and asked Billy to bring parts back for them – and the idea for McGill Motorsport was born.
“We got extra stock and decided we needed to sell it,” Rachel continued. “We started with eBay because it was cheap and widely known. We did that and have never looked back.”
At this point, Rachel had worked in the banking sector for 30 years.
“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 company was founded by Rachel and her son Ross, who had a degree in civil engineering.
The company’s eBay sales never faltered, but as the product range expanded, McGill Motorsport set up a separate website and shop.
“In the beginning we drove from our double garage,” Rachel said. “But as the product range grew, we moved to larger premises.”
Her other two sons, Ryan and Liam, who both worked in the oil industry, later came on board.
All of Rachel’s sons have a love of motorsports which means they can put themselves in the client’s shoes with every interaction.
But the McGills don’t just sell parts and kits for race cars – they invent them too.
An example is an improved scale used to weigh cars when they are trimmed for top speed.
Their innovation was to use Bluetooth wireless connections instead of old-fashioned cables to do this, and the idea was a hit.
“It’s faster and it’s a world first,” explained Rachel.
Part of the McGill ethos is to sell parts at competitive prices.
“We’re very cheap and initially found that difficult as people were suspicious and asked how we could sell things so cheaply,” Rachel explained.
“We had that until we made our name known. That was in 2008 when we had the financial crash. A lot of people gave up their hobbies back then, but motorsport isn’t a hobby it’s a passion and people didn’t want to give that up.”
Now McGill Motorsport sells parts to several Formula 1 and rally racing teams – although Rachel cannot say to whom.
They also sell products and apparel to several TV shows including racing apparel for a BBC show called The fast and the farmer-ish, where farmers compete against tractors.
An upcoming computer game also wants to buy McGill Motorsport rally car parts to make their game more realistic.
But the company’s main goal is to support drivers in “every aspect of motorsport,” Rachel said, from individual drivers to car builders.
The company now employs 13 people – although Rachel jokes they’ve had to hire non-McGills because they’re “running out of family”.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit many companies hard, and Rachel said this applied to McGill – but only for a few months.
“For six weeks to two months, sales took a nosedive, but then they rose at a speed of knots,” she said.
“I think part of that was that these racers have a passion for it. Many needed a project during lockdown. They’re always striving to improve the speed and quality of the car, and that’s why they still spent money on their cars — and of course, had a lot more time at home to do that. So the parts department of the store was doing really well.”
Rachel said the future for McGill Motorsport would involve slow growth but not at the expense of driving out their current customers.
She said: “One thing I would say about our sector is that it’s a niche business so we can’t rely on customers to buy once and then walk away, we have to get them to come back. We have many returning, loyal customers.
“We would like to see sales increase and profits be reasonable.