Colin McRae MBE – a hero, a legend, a champion and an entertainer – these are just some of the words muttered at Eastwood Subaru in Lisburn today (Sat 16 Sep) at the start of the ‘Colin McRae Charity Run V3’ hosted by ‘NI Subaru Run’.
As one of my idols, Colin McRae is the driver that is solely responsible for me donning a fireproof suit and helmet for a few seasons in the navigator’s seat and I am grateful to have witnessed his flamboyant driving style and enchanting smile on a few occasions before his untimely death.
After a helicopter crash close to his Lanarkshire home almost ten years ago to the day of this charity run, Colin was taken from us with his five-year-old son Johnny and his son’s friend, Ben Porcelli, aged six, along with family friend Graeme Duncan, 37.
Since then, the legend and those killed have been remembered annually by fans across the globe and some three years ago NI Subaru Run decided to set up a car run in the name of McRae to raise funds for charity.
This year is the most poignant however as it not only marks the tenth anniversary of McRae’s death but also the fact that it is twenty-two years since the Flying Scotchman took his one and only World Rally Championship series title at the helm of a Prodrive Subaru Impreza ‘555’ GrpA rally car.
McRae is most remembered for his attacks on the World Championship at the wheel of various Subaru models from the Legacy right through most generations of the Impreza but he also spent some time at Ford, Citroen and Skoda during his professional rallying career.
On top of this Colin sampled the delights of endurance track racing – driving a Prodrive Ferarri at Le-Mans 24hr as well as taking on the grueling Dakar rally in a Nissan truck alongside testing an F1 car and developing his own rally cars after retiring from full time driving.
The McRae name to the youth of today is most likely known via computer games such as Colin McRae Rally and the DiRT series of games in which Colin had an instrumental part of, throughout their development, alongside local rallying hero Kris Meeke of whom McRae was a mentor in the Dungannon mans early days as a driver.
The day began at 10:00 at Eastwood Motors, Lisburn providing family fun and cars, cars and more cars – so what more could any enthusiast want on a fresh autumn morning?
Well there was a BBQ, crepes, model car stand, bouncy castle & superheroes from LOC DOWN Events who provided endless photo opportunities for the children whilst the adults gazed at model cars and ate too much waiting the raffle prizes and a car of the show award.
The NI Ambulance Service, NI Fire & Rescue service and PSNI were all in attendance at the start of the event with the estimated 150 cars starting the first stage of the charity car run shortly after 13:00 as they took on approx two hours of driving to the half way point.
Weather was not kind and as the clouds closed in, the rain came, however no such conditions could to stop these enthusiastic owners and the cavalcade of Subaru’s with their symmetrical all-wheel-drive systems meandered their way out of Lisburn.
Taking in views such as the Dromore hills, Cooley Peninsula & Boarder Counties the run stopped in Gyles Quay, the half way point – where despite the weather, participants took in the stunning views and stretched the legs for an hour.
The second stage of the drive event incorporated a beautiful two hour scenic coastal route taking in some of Ireland’s ancient historical moments before reaching the finish line at Neary’s Subaru in Lusk at around 18:00.
All proceeds on the day were in aid of Angel Wishes, a local registered charity that aims to make desperately ill children’s dreams come true and it has been confirmed that £3683.57 was raised – a huge well done to all involved.