ONE of the ORCi Stock Rod drivers to show up well during the closed door sessions at the Cowdenbeath Racewall in the Covid restricted season was Neil Gilogley, who had just started his third season of racing.

And our Racewall reporter Jim Turner caught up with a driver who feels 2021 could offer him a chance to make a real impact.

Neil is a builder to trade and lives in Tayport, and only took up stock car racing back in 2018.

He first appeared in the recently introduced Prostock Basic formula, which the promotion had set up in an effort to entice new drivers into the sport at an inexpensive cost.

The cars are basically a small engine road car, Ford Ka or similar, with all the glass removed and the roll cage is from an H frame inserted to act as protection for the driver. A metal plate is fitted to the driver’s door and the car has to start on the key. The cars are literally as they come off the road, no suspension adjustments, no special tyres and the racing is non contact.

“I hadn’t had any racing experience before I bought the Prostock Basic although I used to spectate at the Cowdenbeath Racewall with my pal Steve Gunby. Steve decided he was going to race and bought a Stock Rod and I helped him a bit when he did.” Neil commented

“I bought a Toyota Yaris, which was ready to race and literally only changed the numbers. I remember my first race, although it didn’t last too long and I ended up against the marker tyres!

“The front end of the car was wrecked so we had to rebuild it when we got it back to the garage”.

He added: “ I don’t have a lot of car knowledge and my brother Matthew does most of the work on the car.

“I really enjoyed my time in the Basics and did well. In those days contact was allowed which made it a bit difficult. I moved up the grades quite quickly and ended up as a red grade driver. I picked up a couple of wins and had a lot of top five finishes but struggled to keep up with Dougie Ford.

“ I ended up as the runner-up in the Scottish Championship to Kieran Edgar. Still it was a good learning experience and at the end of the year I decided to sell my car and join Steve in the Stock Rods.”

“I bought a Nova, from Stuart Wedderburn, and when we got it back to the garage we began to get it ready for the practice. We repainted the car and then dropped my engine into it and that was us ready to go.

“But I found the car quite difficult to drive and struggled to get the set up right. I stayed as a white grade driver over the season and didn’t feel I was making as much progress as I had hoped. I missed out on racing in the Scottish Championship but whilst I raced in the last meeting of the season, which was the Si Lang Memorial race, I struck problems with the engine and had to retire”

He didn’t let that diminish his enthusiasm though: “I had decided when the season was drawing to a close that I would change my car. I ended up with a Corsa C that had belonged to Si Laing.

“The car was a rolling shell and it was taken to the workshop of EJB Autocare, in Thornton. Eric and Michael Bethune built up the Corsa for me, changing quite a lot of the car before they rebuilt my engine. The car was then painted, sign written and I was ready for action. I cannot thank Eric and Michael enough for all the work they did for me and helping to set the car up for me.

“I was ready for the practice sessions at the start to the season and ran reasonably well and it was like night and day to the Nova. The car would go where I wanted it to go and I was really looking forward to the start of the season.

“But then the Covid virus took over and closed proceedings before I could race the car in anger. The car sat in my garage until the closed door practice sessions started and again Eric and Michael were on hand to help me out. The car was really good and I was looking forward to racing it.”

He enjoyed the closed door meetings at Cowdenbeath: “The first of the closed door meetings was held on September 26 and there was a good turn out of cars.

“In the heats I felt the car was really on the pace and I was delighted to pick up a third place in my opening heat. I followed that with a sixth place in heat two, but then when the final started I moved into the lead right away.

“I wasn’t able to make a break and there were a couple of cars running on my back bumper. I concentrated on maintaining a good line and towards the end of the race I began to pull away.

“I had led all the way and it was a great feeling when I crossed the finish line to pick up my first win in the Stock Rods.

“The car had run without any problems and what a confidence booster that was. On the downside there were no fans there to celebrate with! I was back out for the Allcomers and had to start from the back of the white grade as a result of my win and again I had a good race but had to settle for sixth place.

“Our next meeting was a fortnight later and I was confident of doing well. I made a good start to the opening heat and got away well and into the lead. Once there I held on to pick up another win. Again the car was running well and handling well.

“In the second heat I brought my car home in third place but hit a problem during the final and had to retire.”

Looking ahead: “My car is sitting in the garage ready for action and I can’t wait until the start to the season.

“If all goes well I hope to get in a full season’s racing and might even venture south of the Border, but that will depend on how well I am doing. I don’t think I will take in any of the Northern Ireland trips as yet.

“The European and World Championships were scheduled to be held in Scotland last year and hopefully that will be the case in 2021. I am very hopeful of qualifying for both and if I could get a result in both then that would be my target. There was also talk of some meetings at Knockhill and I would be keen to race there, and I will also be looking forward to the Scottish Championship when that comes around.

“It is only my brother Matthew and I that work on the car but I know that if I need help that I can call on the Bethunes. They have helped me a lot and I am very grateful to them for their support.

“I get sponsorship from EJB Autocare and from Paterson’s Haulage of Newport and I am very grateful to them”.