I WAS told by Stuart McKinnon, who now lives in Kincardine but is originally from Lochore, “That was without doubt my best season and it was supposed to be my last! I intended to give up at the end of the year as my eldest son, Bailey, wants to start racing. Need to reconsider now!", writes our Cowdenbeath Racewall scribe Jim Turner.

“I ended up with two titles, one I earned which was the ORCi Stock Rod National but the other, the European Championship, I inherited.

“With it being what I intended as my last season, I decided to travel a bit and did clock up quite a few miles. I was a regular visitor to Nutts Corner, in Northern Ireland, but my longest trip was going to St. Day, in the south west, for the British Championship.

"It took us around 13 hours to get there. The car was on song and I had the fastest lap in practice and also in heat one. I started the British from sixth place and managed to get up to third only to strip second gear and coasted out of the race.”

Looking at the season he added: “I had a few good races at Cowdenbeath and felt my car wasn’t far away.

"I was spending more time working on the car and it is a true saying that the more you put into the car the more you get out of it. Anyway at European Championship I started the race from near the back of the grid.

"The race got underway but the yellow flags were soon out after Liam McGill and James Gray made contact. Once I settled down I began to make up ground. A couple of race suspensions helped me quite a bit and towards the end of the race I had caught up with the leaders. Raymond Harper had got ahead of Dean McGill but on the last lap he was delayed by a back marker and suddenly the three of us were nose to tail.

"Dean got his nose inside going down the back straight and suddenly Harper was sideways on the pit bend. Dean slipped through into the lead and I followed through the gap. I was on Dean’s boot as we crossed the finish line and then there was a lot of controversy when Dean was penalised for contact.

"Yes I was delighted to have been declared the European Champion but it was not how I wanted to win the title. I had told James Gray earlier as he was one of the favourites to take the title after good heat results had out him on pole that 'if it is meant to happen then it will.'

“The World Championship was at Nutts Corner and I had been there a couple of times before so was reasonably happy with my set-up. What we didn’t know was that they had re-tarred some of the surface and we quickly found out that it wrecked tyres.

"I practiced on Friday night but didn’t do too well but was back for the World Final. The car was terrible and I started the race from thirteenth on the grid. It wasn’t too good a race for me and I ended up in tenth. I did more changes to the car and it got better. There was plenty of close and hard racing and all in all it was a good weekend.”

Asked how he got on in the Scottish, Stuart grinned and said: “I started in the top group of cars for a change and in wet and greasy conditions was running well.

"The conditions were very tricky and I soon had Mikey Bethune and James Gray chasing. A race suspension bunched us up and Mikey dived up the inside of me where there was no grip and we slid into the wall. Mikey went on to win and I recovered to finish third with a damaged rear axle.

“With all the travelling I had done I was well placed in the GMP National Points. Dean was leading and one Friday we both headed over to Nutts Corner. It was the last points meeting but it was a disaster. The floodlight generator packed up and we never got to race! I ended up joint second in the track points losing out on the last meeting when James passed both Mikey and me to win it.

“It was back to the Racewall for the National, which had supposed to be at Bristol earlier but had been cancelled. The first race was for the Simon Laing Memorial – one of our drivers who died and it was an emotional night.

"It was also a wet night. I started second last but there were a few race stoppages which helped me close the gap to the leaders. My car was going well and I managed to catch Mikey who was leading and managed to get alongside. He was on the quicker outside line making it difficult making it difficult for me to pass him on the bends and we raced by side for eight or nine laps. On the last lap I managed to get ahead and was delighted to win. It meant a lot to me, I had got on well with Simon. I diced with David Philp Jnr for most of heat two but when we drifted wide James nipped through to win.

"I started the National Championship from pole position and led the race from start to finish. The car was on rails and I was absolutely delighted to end the season with two titles!"

I asked him how he got into stock cars and was told one of the usual stories: “When the Racewall re-opened my dad had to take me as he had used to take his brother when he was my age.

"At that time I had a motorbike but wanted a Ministox. I remember my first meeting vividly. I was driving around one of the corners when Jim Cuthill and Robert Vass passed me on the inside. I got such a fright that I put myself into the wall. It put me off but the car was soon repaired and I was told to get back out. I wasn’t very successful in the Minis although I did finish third in one of the Scottish Championships.

“I had some time away from racing after I was too old to race in the Ministox. I spent a lot of time helping Chris “Gunner” Lattka and it wasn’t until 2001 that I returned in a Stock Rod. My first meeting was at Knockhill on a Wednesday night where I picked up two heat wins. At the Racewall on the Saturday I again won two races and then wrote the car off during the final when I was eased into the wall! That was my season over!

"Due to circumstances I didn’t really get back to consistent racing until a few years ago. I changed my job and that curtailed my racing quite a bit.

“I started Saltire Fabrications in 2014 and whilst I built a few cars I didn’t have the time that I needed to work on mine.

"My racing suffered and after a couple of seasons I cut back what I was doing.

"The World was at the Racewall in 2015 where I had a great practice. I started from fifth on the grid whilst Jim Pitcaithly had fuel problems and failed to start. I managed to get up to second but overshot one corner and dropped down to third.

"Mikey got ahead and I tucked in behind and whilst he went through to win I finished in second place. The following meeting I wrecked my car a couple of weeks before the British at Ballymena. Some lengthy shifts and I had had a new one ready for the Friday prior to the race. The car was a dream in practice and I ended up in fourth. The Scottish was a disaster! Car was quick but when I got into the pits my mechanics had the fuel tank out. When it went back in I ended up with a kinked fuel pipe and my race finished on the first bend.

“I didn’t do too much in 2016 and 17 but was back full of confidence in 2018. "We had a lot of mechanical trouble that year, but I was third in the Scottish. One thing that I think that has helped Stock Rod racing was the introduction of race receivers. The steward of the meeting can issue warnings to hold your racing line and more importantly let you know that there has been an accident ahead and what line to take. It has in my opinion saved a lot of damage to cars.”

“Without doubt I have to be happy with what I achieved last season. There are no slow cars out racing. So saying that the racing has been fast and I have enjoyed a lot of close racing. I have to start from the back of the grid and it is hard going to make your way through the field. I have a lot of help from my wife Alison, owner and founder of the McKinnon hotel – or so she says, and Bailey. I have sponsorship from JB Race Engines, Village Cabs in Dunfermline and Steve Ewing and Sons.”

“I suppose that is me officially retired, well for the close season anyway. I need to defend my titles but with the World at the Racewall this year I suppose I need to try to win it!”