“Everything about rally makes me nostalgic; the smells, the sounds… everything.”
There’s a name in rallying that everyone knows, but very few understand. It’s laden with legend and grief, heart and speed. It holds family at its core and races for the sheer grit of it all, yielding a slew of stories along the way.
“I’ll always be drawn to rally,” she says, speaking of the passion and heart that the rallying community holds, “I’ve never known anything else.”
Despite growing up around countless people who ate, breathed, and slept rally, she forged her own path. Having recently graduated university and having just completed her first year as a primary school teacher, she’s dedicated her time to creating a safe and welcoming space for countless children, saying, “I always knew I’d end up teaching, I just didn’t know what”. Now that she finds herself doing just that, she has her eyes set on some new adventures in the future – teaching internationally.
When COVID hit and pulled her out of the physical classroom, she got creative. She built her own YouTube channel dedicated to enthusiastically teaching kids remotely. Completely self-taught, she’s already built quite the online empire with nearly 9000 subscribers. In reminiscing on her own schooling journey, she said: “One time, dad had to drive me to school in the rally car.”
This is Hollie McRae, daughter of Colin, and rallying is in her blood.
Usually it’s the rally car that’s chronically broken, but not this time. “I can’t remember what went wrong, but the rally car was the only one running.” So off they went, growling and rumbling all the way to first period, with strict instructions from her mother not to drive too fast.
When asked if she’ll carry on the rally legacy from behind the wheel, she says she’ll let her cousin take the reins – she has other plans. Plus, in her own words, “I don’t think my mom would like it very much”.
But she still breathes rallying in other ways, like when she took her students on a field trip to a transport museum and explained all about one of the rally cars. She spoke honestly, expressing that most rally drivers (currently) are men – and actually, how most jobs represented at the transport museum are taken up by men. And then she opened the door to a bigger conversation – that there is really no reason for this. That there is no reason any one of her students, regardless of gender, couldn’t do any of those jobs: driver, engineer, mechanic, co-driver.
“Don’t let the stereotypes stop you – at the end of the day, if you go into a field that isn’t geared towards women, you’re going to be the first one,” she said. “And it will be amazing.”
Hollie is not one to shy away from something new, and carries that same belief. On yet another new venture, she recently worked with DirtFish at M-Sport during our coverage of the Safari Rally, quizzing Richard Millener on all things Ford. Put quite simply, she rocked it. And, lucky for us, she may have another gift for us being published in the near future…
Beyond the mechanics and the engineering behind these incredible vehicles, though, Hollie tells me about the heart of it all.
“You know what the amazing part of the rally community is?” she says. “Whenever I meet people, they share a story about my dad. But the stories aren’t about how well a stage went or how he placed, they’re about eating dinner in another country, or a time they tinkered on cars together. And no matter how many people I meet, there’s always a new story to be told.”
And they always, always end with a smile, a laugh, and a reminder that “legend” really is the perfect word.