Monday, September 17, 2007

Colin McRae: Bike Racing Fan

It has been confirmed that former World Rally champion Colin McRae died in a helicopter crash near his home at Lanark, Scotland on Saturday, along with his 5 year old son Johnny and two family friends aged 6 and 37.
McRae might have been a rally driver, but he also had a passion for motorcycles. In fact, one person in the British Superbike paddock who had seen McRae ride said in all seriousness that he could be a top ten runner in BSB.
I was sitting in a car waiting to leave a British Superbike championship race at Knockhill about 3 years ago when Colin McRae strode past purposefully, talking into his mobile phone. He paused to sign an autograph for a 7 or 8 year old lad, then carried on his way. I could have gone and asked for an autograph myself, but I'm not a collector of signatures and I didn't want to trouble a guy who was just out to watch Superbike racing with the rest of us on a Sunday afternoon. It was enough for me to see a national hero walking amongst his fellow bike racing fans without a single assistant or bodyguard. This down to earth nature is one reason why he became a legend.
Valentino Rossi dedicated his win at Estoril to McRae, calling him the Kevin Schwantz of rallying. This is a good comparison, as both McRae and Schwantz were quick but erratic young racers who found the limit by crossing it and crashing. Both are true heroes in their respective sports, held in higher esteem by hardcore fans than some multiple champions for their sheer speed and exciting styles.
The loss of two young boys makes the tragedy all the greater, but McRae's death brings back the memories of other champions. Englishman Richard Burns was another World Rally champion who was taken before his time by a brain tumour in 2005. Scotsman Steve Hislop was a double British Superbike champion and eleven-time Isle of Man TT winner who died in a helicopter crash near his home town in 2003. Barry Sheene was still in the prime of life when he died of cancer in 2003.
These people excited, entertained and inspired millions of people. Their legends will live on.

1 comment:

Alessandro Matteucci aka Alex 555 said...

May he rest in peace with the rest of our heroes ...