I was deeply shocked and troubled by the death of Colin McRae. More than that, I felt a sense of emptiness, as if a sudden dark void had entered somewhere in the depths of my being.
I have never met Colin. I have never seen Colin except on TV. I am someone who while not a fan of rallying, likes rallying. Motor sport to me has always been something pretty boring. That ceased to be the case when my youngest son encouraged me to watch some of the World Rally Championships on the box. I found it both exciting and thrilling. Colin could easily have been one who drove in endless circuits around a Grand Prix track. Instead he chose the varied challenge of hairpin bends on mountain roads, forest roads, driving through snow and ice, taking off and flying from the crests of hills, crashing off sharp bends, rolling over and over, smashing up cars in a gladiatorial struggle to be at the top of the podium, showing no fear but only a steel determination to win through. He was - and is a hero.
It is because of Colin that I drive a Subaru. Let me explain. I used to drive a Rover. That in itself is a good enough reason to change to a Subaru! However, that is not how it came about. My Rover had served me well for some years but was now giving me more trouble than it was worth. On the day I bought the Subaru, I hadn't planned to buy a car - let alone even look at a new car. I took my wife and my youngest son ten pin bowling in St Neots. It's what I do. I bowl. After bowling, we were at a bit of a loose end and it seemed too early to go home. There was a Rover garage nearby and so we found ourselves looking at cars. The bloke in the garage was trying to flog me a series 2 1.4 litre and I wasn't terribly impressed. My son suggested we take a ride out to Marshals in Cambridge, near the airport and look at cars there, so that is what we did. While I was looking at used Rovers, my son and wife were not looking at Rovers. They were looking at an Impreza. It wasn't a turbo model, but an Impreza nonetheless. Encouraged by my son, I took it for a test drive, liked it and bought it. Since then, I have moved onto a moody black Subaru Turbo Forester which is a real mean machine. I love it.
My son would not have pushed me in the Subaru direction were it not for his devotion to Colin who did a lot to enhance Subaru in the public eye by winning the World Championship in one. After that he went on to drive for Ford, but never became as indelibly linked with a brand as he did with Subaru.
My son wants to be a rally driver. He has entered competitions to win a rallying scholarship, and did well to get near the final stages. He is an excellent driver and frightens the living crap out of me when he takes me out for spins around the country lanes of Scotland where he now lives. He covets the dream of being a rally driver himself. I believe he will. He has fleetingly met Colin when he was helping out at a rally and was asked to take something to Colin who was sat in his car at the time. It was a moment he will never forget.
So here's to Colin. An inspiration, role model, sportsman, brave, fearless, determined, champion, hero, "Flower of Scotland". May his memory live for ever.
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