Flying is more dangerous than driving

Was some very sad news on the weekend, with the announcement that one of my motorsport rally heroes had been killed in a helicopter crash.  

Colin McRae (39) was flying his own helicopter, when it crashed not long after take-off, killing himself and 3 others – including his 5 year old son.

FOUR hearses left the family home of Colin McRae last night, marking a sombre end to a day during which Scotland mourned the loss of one of its most revered sportsmen.

What had started out on Saturday as a day-trip with family and friends had ended in tragedy, described yesterday by the former rally champion’s father as a premature blow to the “family dynasty”.

A fun day out that ended in fireball crash

I had a post a while ago, excitedly proclaiming that McRae would be returning to the “fast seat” for 2008, which I had entitled “Colin McRae – LIVE in 2008”.  

Spooky – I was simply meaning “in the flesh” – not a video game.

I saw Colin McRae “live” a number of times – firstly at the Rally of Australia in Perth (about 1997 /98).   He was in the classic blue Subaru Impreza WRX – and was just a wild driver – always looked out of control, just on the limit, barely hanging on.    But – very fast indeed.

This was the days of (my) superstars of Rallying – Tommi Makinnen, Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankunnen, Didier Auriol, Marcus Gronholm, Richard Burns, Colin McRae – and the battle royale between Subaru, Mitsubishi, Peugeot and Toyota.

My father and I trekked to New Zealand for the following two Rally-NZ’s – and I remember yelling in delight as McRae came sliding past, sideways.  I turned my back away as a wall of mud over 10 foot high was sprayed in my direction – and covered my jeans, coat, head – and even on the inside of my glasses !!    “Jeez, he was really movin’, wasn’t he ?!?!!!” as my Dad exclaimed !!

And was lucky enough to get a poster autographed by Colin, and his co-driver Nicky Grist.   This has been in pride-of-place in my study, glass-mounted with a few photos as well.

Colin McRae went on to develop the Ford Focus rally car, a few development years, and hard work – which has resulted in Marcus Gronholm winning the manufacturer’s title in 2006 – and probably (likely) again in 2007.

And, he had two seasons in the Citroen Xsara, with an apprentice by the name of Sebastian Loeb, who has become the Micheal Schumacher of rallying.    Colin had some troubled events, and was being beaten by some young guns, at the same time as a few manufacturers were leaving the sport – and he was left without a “seat”, and hasn’t competed for a while.

And – then there’s a Colin McRae Rally video game – on the XBox, PC and PlayStation – with the most recent Colin McRae: Dirt just been released on the next-gen consoles (XBox-360 and PS-3).

The official website for Colin McRae has a tribute page, with family statement and announcements.   And an area to leave condolences.

I can just almost hear Nicky Grist calling the pace-notes now :

Very fast medium left,

through pearly gates,

over crest,

into heaven,

and over finish.

RIP – rally in peace.

I’ll dig out some of my old rally photos – and autographed NZ rally pass from 1999.


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