Colin McRae was the epitome of a rally legend. I'm usually not one for idolizing heroes, especially ones I've never met, but McRae was definitely on my short list of real heroes.
Earlier today, McRae was officially identified as one of the victims along with his 5 year old son Johnny. Johnny's 6 year old friend Ben Porcelli and 37-year-old family friend Graeme Duncan were also on board the helicopter when it crashed.
In 1995, McRae became both Britian's first World Rally Champion, as well as the first champion for this little team called the Subaru World Rally Team. He placed 2nd three more times and 3rd once, and helped the Subaru World Rally Team take the manufacturers title in 1995, 1996 and 1997. He drove with a great flair and a do or die attitude, which has probably contributed to all those 2nd places not being Championships. His nickname of McCrash was definitely well deserved, and in each rally it was the top step of the podium or retirement. His amazing driving has endeared him to rally fans around the world, and he will definitely be remembered as being one of the most exciting drivers to watch.
The news shook the motorsports world this weekend. Valentino Rossi dedicated his Portuguese MotoGP win to his childhood idol. Jean Todt, former rally co-driver and now Ferrari Formula 1 team boss, asked for a moment of silence after Ferrari's dominate 1-2 finish in Spa-Francorchamps. Red Bull F1 driver, and fellow Scot David Coulthard also used his press time at Spa-Fracorchamps to talk about the memory of his friend and Race of Champions teammate. Carlos Sainz, who partnered with Colin at Subaru, Ford and Citroen works rally teams said "It's a terrible news, I have lost a friend with whom I fought in the same team in the best sense of the word. I really appreciated him. The tragic circumstances of the accident make his passing even harder. He was a great driver and an excellent person." McRae's co-driver Nicky Grist put it nicely "I have to say they were the best times of my life. We used to drive to the max and push everything to the absolute limit. But when it came to socialising we had great fun also." The list just gets longer and longer. Prodrive boss David Richards, M-Sport Ford Director Malcom Wilson, SWRT managing director Richard Taylor, etc. He will surely be missed by many, or as Coulthard said "The world is a sorrier place without him."
Here are a few more quotes collected from Scotsman.com. (http://sport.scotsman.com/motorsport.cfm?id=1485752007)
"Helen [ my wife] and I are very sad to hear the tragic news. Both Paul and Mark [ my sons] were good friends with Colin also. We want to extend our sincere condolences and deepest sympathy to Ali, Jimmy and the rest of the McRae family. “ It’s a sad loss for Scotland of a real hero and an immensely popular friend." – SIR JACKIE STEWART, Three- time F1 world champion
"He and [ his wife] Alison were good friends and I cannot imagine either without the other. He was fearless, flamboyant, blindingly quick in the car. He was very down- to- earth, matter- of-fact that he was so good. He had all the good Scottish traits." – DAVID COULTHARD, Formula 1 driver
"We used to drive to the max and push everything to the absolute limit. But when it came to socialising we had great fun also." – NICKY GRIST McRae’s former co- driver
"I don’t think anybody disliked him, everyone was his friend in the sport. Everywhere he went he was an ambassador, an ambassador for the sport and for Scotland, he was terrific." – MAX MOSLEY President of the FIA
"He had a competitive spirit like I’ve never seen in any other individual in my life. I remember when I put him in a Formula One car at Silverstone and how great he was in that straight away. It could have been a sports car, touring car, Paris- Dakar, you name it. It’s unusual to call somebody a legend, but it’s very appropriate for Colin." – DAVE RICHARDS Owner of Prodrive team with whom McRae won the world championship
"He was really daring, always pushing it further. I always liked his attitude. It was maximum attack always and he had some big rolls sometimes. Every time he had one, though, it was like: ’ Oh well, it’s just a roll,’ and he just carried on." – HEIKKI KOVALAINEN Formula 1 driver
"Colin was an inspiration to all who knew him and to millions around the world who knew of him. His energy, commitment and extraordinary talent brought him domestic and international success, while his uncompromising style and determination made him the hero of fans everywhere. “ Throughout a glorious career, that saw him rise from the grassroots of the sport to the pinnacle of the world stage, Colin was always a great ambassador for Scottish and UK motor sport." – COLIN HILTON Chief Executive of the Motor Sports Association
"He was something special. He started in 1988 and was world champion seven years later. That shows just what a driver he was. He was a great friend and I had no fear of flying with him and I’ve been at the controls of the helicopter. I felt 100 per cent safe with him and I never had any fears." – MURRAY GRIERSON Former Scottish rally champion
"I need to remember Colin McRae. I dedicate to him this victory because he is one of my idols." – VALENTINO ROSSI MotoGP rider
If you'd like to leave your condolences, you can at his website: