After 23 years without success, Jim Pitcaithly thought he’d missed his chance of winning a stock car racing championship.
But all that came to an end this season not with one top spot, but four.
The Kirkcaldy man has been racing since the early 90s and although he has had a number of second and third place finishes, he has never taken first place - until this year.
The 39-year-old’s dizzying change in fortunes began in April when he won the Irish Masters.
It was the first time he raced in Ireland, and said it was a great feeling to finally win a competition.
“I got to that stage where I thought a championship will never come,” he said. “It was good to get one under the belt and win a championship.”
This was followed up with wins in the British and Scottish Championship in May and October respectively. Both competitions took place in Cowdenbeath.
He described the British Championship as “the big one”.
“It was a close race, but in the last couple of laps I started to realise I could do it,” he said. “The feeling when I saw the chequered flag being waved was unreal.”
And to top off the season, he won the Cowdenbeath Track Championship - a points based tournament that takes place throughout the year.
“That was for being the most consistent driver throughout the year, so that was a really good way to cap off the season,” he said.
He attributes a couple of things to his change in fortunes. In the British and Scottish Championships he started in the outside, front position.
In fact, in the British qualifiers he felt like he should have started in the pole position.
However, he was penalised for contact (he races in the non-contact field of stock car racing). He protested this with the racing steward, who steadfastly stuck to his decision.
After winning the race, the steward told Jim that “what is for you will be”. Now he feels like that may be his lucky starting position.
And he started driving a new car this season - a Corsa C. It was loaded with an engine that members of team, John Leslie and Crawford Fairgrieve, built the year before.
He admits that maybe if he was driving a car of that quality in the past, that success could have come sooner. But he confesses to not having a “big budget to play with”.
Despite the whirlwind year, Jim doesn’t yet know if he will be competing again next season. His business, Pitcaithly Auto in Leslie, is in its second year and he may focus on that in 2017 instead.
That decision isn’t final though: after a short break from the Corsa, he expects to get back into the car about December time and see how he feels about it then.