A LOCHGELLY war hero who broke his spine while serving in Afghanistan has pleaded with businesses to help save his motorsport dream – and says "it's more than just racing".
Last month the Times brought you the story of Mike Courts, who suffered the severe injury while on tour with the Black Watch in 2011 and has since endured numerous operations and years of physiotherapy, including learning to walk again.
The 26-year-old was introduced to motorsport as part of his rehabilitation and has risen to become a rising star in the Scottish Motor Racing Club circuit, and lies fifth in the Mini Cooper Cup Championship after the opening round of racing at Knockhill.
But now Mike, who says that racing has given him "purpose" after coming to terms with the injuries he sustained, is facing uncertainty over his track future after losing vital sponsorship and access to a car through Cardenden's Balgonie Motor Company.
However he says that the main reason why his fledgling career in the fast lane could be in jeopardy is due to a Kirkcaldy hotel – the Raven Hotel – backtracking on paying £7,000 in promised sponsorship without warning in February, leaving him struggling to meet the costs involved.
Mike explained: "The Raven Hotel dropping me cost me £10,000 in sponsorship; to think I have that funding and budget in October, but then lose it in February when the start of the season is in April, is not ideal.
"I've been struggling to try and pick up sponsorship and made it to the first round, where I finished sixth, fourth and fifth, and means I'm now fifth in the championship. But, unfortunately, the decision was made by the guy who owns the cars and Balgonie Motor Company to sell them. A guy came along looking for a car for him and his son and he was offered ridiculous money for both; it wasn't done out of spite and, with the uncertainly, he made the decision to let them go.
"It's a knock-on effect from what happened with the hotel, which would have paid my car up front for the season. I can't thank Paul and Balgonie Motor Company enough; without him and Andrew Lamont Motorsport, I wouldn't have been in a mini in the first place, and especially wouldn't have made it onto the grid for the first round of the season.
"Racing has, essentially, given me purpose during my recovery and it's more than just racing."
Mike, who has been supported in his endeavours by Help for Heroes, continued: "In 2013 I was using karts as a recovery activity and then, in 2014, I moved into cars with Mission Motorsport and it took off from there.
"Racing gives me a lot of drive and it's probably more difficult to bounce back from this (than his injuries). For me, it was quite easy (to recover) because of the mentality you have in the army; it never crossed my mind that I wasn't going to make a recovery or walk again. I had direct control over that but with this there is so much uncertainty.
"To now have another knock back makes it hard to constantly get back up, so this is a plea to anybody who would like to get on board, and I am looking to give something in return."
Mike added that he was grateful for the support of David Sleigh Racing, who provided him with a car to race this weekend, and said he had held productive talks with Kirkcaldy-based Travel Your World about sponsorship.
If you would like to help Mike, get in touch by emailing Mike@MikeCourtsRacing.co.uk, calling 07522282888 or by finding Mike Courts Racing on Facebook.