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25 years on … Colin McRae, thanks for the memories

November 19, 2020 marks 25 years since Colin McRae embarked on the 1995 Network Q RAC Rally, the event that would see him crowned as World Rally Champion.

He was the most popular rally driver of all time, a man with his own computer game brand, an ‘on the limit’ driving style, and a legion of fans around the world. Now seems a poignant time to remember the great Scotsman’s career, and the tragic accident that claimed his life in September 2007.

They were agonising hours before we knew for certain that Colin McRae was in his helicopter when it crashed at Lanark on September 15, and then even more horrific news came.  He had not been alone, that his five-year old son died with him and two other friends were there as well.

For me, that factor overshadowed everything else. We were used to the risks which Colin took in his rally cars, and we admired the way that the worst injury he suffered in a rally car was no worse than a broken cheek bone in Corsica in 2000, but there was a terrible irony that he died while flying an aircraft.

Care in the air

This was an activity which he addressed with a completely different attitude, with a respect and caution which he never showed in rallying.  The deepest sadness, however, was the loss of young Johnny McRae, his friend and Colin’s friend.

Colin McRae and his fellow world champion, Richard Burns, between them gave British rallying an international perspective which it never had before.  Roger Clark had been the first and only other British driver to win a world championship rally, back in 1976, and it wasn’t until New Zealand 1993 before Colin did the same, and another five years before Richard likewise.

All three of the country’s winners have now gone, each of them considerably before their time, each of them through circumstances that were nothing to do with rallying.

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Author

Martin Holmes