Coming in at number eight on my list of personal memorable moments from my time in rallying is a video. Well, a video of a truly incredible experience.
Until a year or so ago on a visit to the Pirelli Rally, I genuinely didn’t believe that there was any footage of this unforgettable experience in existence. I’m forever indebted to a lovely chap called Andrew Melville who came up to me out of the blue in Carlisle and gave me a CD with this clip on it.
You can watch the slightly shaky clip and listen to me shrieking my way around the demonstration stage in the attached video.
This is the story of my unforgettable ride with a legend.
In 2007 I was fortunate enough to be asked to compère the Scottish Motorsport Show in Lanark. There were many big names from Scottish motorsport present that day but the undoubted star of the show was Colin McRae.
I’d met Colin a few times but still felt nervous in his presence. Long before I’d taken an active interest in rallying, Colin had been a superstar and hero to me. I was an enormous sports fan, and world champions in any sport from Scotland are revered back home.
I really shouldn’t have been nervous. Colin’s laid-back, laconic style was completely calming.
That was, until he turned to me and said with that slightly cheeky, quizzical look: “How about a wee spin in the Metro, big man?”
Oh my good God! I was going for a spin in a rally car with quite possibly the most legendary driver ever to pull a helmet on! And not just in any rally car, this was the monstrous Group B MG Metro 6R4.
As I squeezed myself through the roll cage, I was good few kilos heavier in those days, the first thing that struck me was, bizarrely, the gear stick. Or to be more precise, the gear knob.
Now as a student I’d been the very proud owner of an MG Metro, it was intimidatingly black with go-fast red trim. I loved that car.
And part of my car was in this testosterone fuelled Metro. Yep, the gear knob that Colin was about to give some hearty abuse to was exactly the same as in my much loved car. Spindly with a wee golfball like knob. How utterly bizarre.
Being strapped in next to the legend, that enormous throbbing engine growling menacingly behind us, was quite surreal. Then we were off. Launched into the stage with a sheer brutality that took my breath away.
What you can hear on the PA system is me shrieking from the co-driver’s seat. I was wearing a radio mic and was allegedly commentating on my experience.
It was and still is the biggest thrill I have ever experienced in a motor car.
And looking back, it was an incredibly poignant moment. Possibly the last time that Colin drove a Metro in front of his adoring Scottish fans.
I will forever be grateful that Colin shared that moment with me. Colin was, and always will be, a true Scottish legend.