THERE was an announcement from GMP on Sunday highlighting that there is now a light at the end of the tunnel which stated that practice sessions will take place at the Cowdenbeath Racewall starting from August 8, writes Jim Turner.

"However these sessions will be staged behind closed doors and the drivers must book in through the website and payment will be by card only.

"The first session will be for Formula II, Saloons and Stock Rods and drivers are urged to book in early as only limited spaces are available. More news will come in the near future but hopefully we are on the way back".

A Fifer who is desperate to see some racing this season is Eck Cunningham.

“It was through my old school mate David Hughes that I got into stock car racing,” Eck Cunningham from Buckhaven commented to our Racewall reporter Jim Turner.

“When we were at school he moved to Aberdeen but we still remained close friends and when he started racing stock cars at the Cowdenbeath Racewall I would go along to help out. That was my introduction to stock car racing about 12 years ago!

“Four years later I had a Saloon. I had absolutely no racing experience at all and I found it very nerve wracking and difficult at my first meeting. Once I got some races under my belt it wasn’t quite too bad. It was like jumping into something with both feet and not knowing what was going to happen. Mind you I’d had some hard knocks by then. I am now going into my eighth year.”

He soon made a lot of progress: “I started off with a Scotty Devine car and after a year I got David’s spare car which had been built by Kevin Easton.

"It was originally supposed to be for David but somehow I ended up with the car. I raced that car till the end of 2016 but David had modified the car before each season and it has gone better each time. For 2015 we literally stripped it right back to the bare chassis and did quite a bit of alterations to the car. There were pieces cut out, repositioned and then the car was put back together in time for the season to start. When I say ‘we’ – David did most of the work, but I was up to his garage each weekend helping out as much as I could. What a difference it made to the car!

“That year I did well and by the end of the season I ended up as a red grade driver. I had been looking forward to the European Championship but it didn’t turn out as I hoped it would. I blew my engine whilst trying to qualify. At that point I changed from the Two-Litre Pinto to the Zetec and I found the cars power range different and a wee bit easier to drive. I won the Whites and Yellows series final towards the end of the season.

“In 2016 the car had been going well and I was looking forward to the Scottish Championship. In the public draw I drew eighth on the grid. All my hopes for a good result turned out to be a pipe dream. I got away well and made up places but when Ross Graham hit the wall and slid backwards across the piece of track I was passing he collected me. Before I could get going the pack clattered into me and wrecked my back bumper and that was literally that. I was left to spectate once again!”

But he kept at it: “I spent a long time repairing the car for the Whites and Yellow series final which was the following week – that turned out to be another disaster! I got a good start and was soon closing in on the cars ahead of me. I managed to get into the lead and had a fair gap on the others when out came a yellow flag to clear an incident.

"That allowed the pack to close up and whilst I managed to get away well I just couldn’t shake off Kyle Hegg. At the start to the last lap he was right on my tail and as we went into the pit bend he lunged and made contact with my car. The contact sent me wide towards the wall but somehow I managed to keep the car off the wall. I held on the best I could but he was just ahead of me at the line by the proverbial coat of paint. To be honest I was very disappointed but in his shoes I would have done exactly the same!

“Later during the meeting I was sent crashing into the wall pretty hard by Willie Mitchell – I don’t know why – and felt a pain in my shoulder. I later went to the hospital where they diagnosed that I had broken my shoulder. There was no action needed and it healed in its own time. However, that meant that my season was over and I couldn’t race in the Superbowl.

“I bought a new Tully built saloon in 2017 but by the time we had it built up, painted and sign written it was the first weekend in June before I made it onto the track. Initially we struggled with the set up but once we did the car was like night and day to the old one.

"When the Scottish came along I drew pole position. I had a good race and ended up in seventh place. The World was at the Racewall and again I had to take my place on the last chance qualifying race. This time I finished in the top six to take my place on the back of the grid. I did alright in the World but didn’t finish.”

“I picked up quite a few wins with the car but had suffered quite a bit of damage towards the end of the season and didn’t start the Superbowl meeting.

“In 2018 I had refreshed the Tully car and had a good season's racing. I went down to Skegness for the UK and had a good weekend. It was my first time down there. I did alright in the heats but still had to rely on the last chance heat to qualify for the final. There was a restart and from fourth I was send wide but fought back to qualify. I did well in the UK final but didn’t get a top ten finish. I was happy, the car had been competitive and I had enjoyed the weekend.

“I didn’t manage to race in the Scottish and did only a few meetings before the Superbowl came along and for some reason I struggled with the brakes. The car was going reasonably well but a combination of poor brakes and a hefty shove saw me crash heavily into the wall and that brought my season to an end. I did with the Turner Trophy though which was a big achievement for me.

“Last season I had quite a bit of work to do on the car and was in the process of moving into a bigger workshop and that held me back so I made a late-ish start to the racing. My first big meeting was down at Skegness for the UK weekend. I did quite well on the Thursday night in the wet and over the weekend managed to do alright although I tended to get caught up in a few shunts. On the way down I had trouble with the towing van but we did make it there in the end although later than expected.”

He was frustrated after getting a good draw in the 'Scottish': “I made it onto the Racewall oval three weeks prior to the Scottish Championship so it was a mad rush to get the car ready and too get any problems sorted out.

"Luckily I didn’t need to do a lot to the car and would you believe that I drew position two for the Scottish Championship which meant that I would start the race from the outside of the front row! When the race started I got caught up with Alasdair Smith who had started on pole position and I lost ground. I got going again but then crashed out with James Letford when my steering rack broke.

“The World Championship was at the Racewall but I hadn’t managed to qualify although I had an opportunity to do so in the last chance qualifying race.

"The car was going well and I was making up places only for the car developed a misfire and I had to retire. To make matters worse I had managed to get into the top six and would have made the final grid. Over the weekend I just couldn’t cure the misfire so it was a case of being confined to spectate!

“At the end of the season the car was going well in the Superbowl but when I came to lap a couple of back markers they sent me crashing into the wall resulting in my gearbox getting wrecked. On the Sunday the season ended on a high note. I won the last race of the afternoon even although there was a race suspension with only three laps to go. I knew that I had to make a good restart and happily I did and went on to win."

Looking at the current season: “My car is basically ready to go. David has helped me out a lot to get it ready and it is looking good.

"As soon as we get the all clear I will be ready to get started. I hope to qualify for the World Final one year without having to go out in the last chance qualifying race and to finish in the top six. Probably won’t be this year but….! "Last year I spent a few weekends at Aberdeen last year helping David with his projects. He is building a Classic Hot Rod and concentrating on his daughter Mia’s racing in her Micro F2 number 157.

“I would like to thank my sponsors whose names are on the car for all their help. East Coast Custom Cars, Touchwood – Pine Furnishings in Hawick, Strachans Garage in Maud and Sharpewood Spares all help but if there is anybody out there willing to sponsor me there is plenty space on my car.

"I got a lot of help and advice from Tully about how the car should be set up and that was a great help. I have changed my job and am now a forklift driver with Diageo Distillery, in Leven, which gives me more time to work on the car and other things. "I have to say a big thank-you to my mechanics and mates, especially David Hughes, for all the hard work and setting up of the car and also to Jordan Lithgow for the help at the garage prior to the racing, John Potts and his dad John, Allan Hay, Joie and to my dad Eck for outing up with me.. Their help is invaluable and much appreciated.”

Jim Turner