AFTER five years away from competitive motorsport, Carluke’s Kenny Purdie is making a dramatic return to action in this season’s Scottish Hot Rod Championships.
As Kenny holds a ‘Superstar’ driver rating from his previous successes in stock car racing, he will compete from the back of the grid in a car diligently prepared during the past three months with his dad Jim.
“This car is absolutely fantastic,” said Kenny (49), of Airdrie Road. “It was formerly owned by the Irish 2-Litre Stock Rods champion Derek Martin.
“The car needed bits and pieces done to it when I got it and I’ve completely re-shelled it.”
Like the vehicle Kenny drove in his stock car days, his new car is red, white and blue and emblazoned with the number 17 in reference to his birth date of December 17.
And the Carluke man will undoubtedly need to go some if he’s to emulate the achievements during his 18-year stock car racing career which included winning two Scottish titles and further triumphs at British and European level.
Kenny, who owns Photoflash Coaches in Carluke, explained that this year’s series of hot rod contests on quarter-mile long oval tracks will represent a vastly different challenge from his stock car days.
“Stock car racing is a contact sport with lots of shunts between vehicles,” he said.
“This isn’t the case with hot rods, but the races will still be really exciting for spectators watching drivers reaching speeds of over 90mph.
“And I’ll need to make considerable adjustments to my driving because – unlike stock car contests – my brain won’t simply be able to tell me to drive in a manner which tries to hit other vehicles out of the way!”
Kenny – who quit stock car racing in 2008 as “my old bones couldn’t take the hard hitting of the saloons any longer” – had his first proper outing in his hot rod vehicle at a practice session in Lochgelly, Fife, on Sunday.
And this will also be the venue for the season opening Hot Rod Championship race on Sunday, March 17.
“I’m really looking forward to the buzz of getting back into a racing car,” Kenny said.
“Hopefully I’ll adapt quickly to the new challenges.”
Kenny said he was inspired to get involved in competitive motorsport again by an online Facebook campaign backed by around 140 people.
His ultimate ambition for the 2013 season is to seal a place as one of around 50 qualifiers for the World Championship race in Ipswich on July 7.
Supporters cheering Kenny on will also include wife Joan, mum Julie, six grandchildren, sister Janice and her partner Peter.