“Life is too short” – A co-driving dream reborn

Cameron Fair had planned to take a step back from rallying, but recent events have altered his outlook

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The pacenote book had been swapped for a menu. The racing overalls traded for an apron. The dream put on ice as the fish went on the frier.

Cameron Fair has, for a long time, been one of the UK’s most promising young co-drivers at a national level. A Scottish Rally Championship title last year only adds weight to that.

But, as far as he was concerned, rallying was going to be on the backburner in 2023.

With two young children and a growing fish and chip business on the isle of Mull to look after, Fair was putting family first.

“I wanted to focus on family and the business,” Fair tells DirtFish, “and we’re really short staffed as it is so this year was to focus on home and make sure everything was grand this year, and hopefully come back rallying the year after.”

But in life, things can change fast. The tragic events of a few weeks ago acted as the sharpest reminder to all of us how precious our time on earth really is.

With that in mind, Fair knew straightaway what he had to do when he received the call from Jon Armstrong to compete in this weekend’s Rally Islas Canarias.

Say yes.

“When you get an opportunity like this, you can’t really say no to it,” Fair explains.

“But also, recent events show you that life is too short, you’ve got to take what’s in front of you, you can’t ponder what’s in the past.

“I’ve always been the kind of guy who lives in the moment, not the future. I’ve tried to put my sensible head on and live in the future, but you’ve kind of got to make the most of the moment really.”

And that moment provides Fair with his first ever international rally start overseas, strapped in alongside Armstrong as he debuts M-Sport Poland’s all-new Ford Fiesta Rally3 Evo.

It’s quite the shift for somebody who was resigned to the fact he’d have to let his dream simmer for the time being.

“I had my helmet up for sale three weeks ago – that’s basically where I was mentally,” Fair reveals.

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“At work there’s only myself that can cook, and I’ve got two servers who are both at school so there’s no chance of me ever getting away from the business.

“But when the phone call came from Jon I was like ‘yeah I’m going’ and I just had to go round all the other businesses and say, ‘I really need help here for a week, can you give me someone who can cook for a week?’ And thankfully I got someone.

“I probably would’ve given the same answer [had Breen’s accident not happened] yeah, but I don’t think I would’ve been as quick deciding,” Fair adds.

“But this year, and also last year there were lots of chances to go abroad and do bits and pieces but because I was doing Scottish championship and other rounds here and there, I didn’t have the time to be away from the company and the family because I was already committed to the championship.

“So it was a bit of a gamble [to take a step back] and I have been told by quite a lot of people that I’d done the wrong this year, stepping back, but to be honest if I got a phone call like this, it was the only feasible way I could see it happening, to actually be able to go, was to step back from national stuff.

“To be fair it probably was a big gamble, and it probably is still a big gamble – there’s no guarantee that this is going to work.

“But I’m feeling ready for it and I’m feeling up for the challenge.”

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Armstrong and Fair have never competed together but have worked together in the past as Sean Johnston and Alex Kihurani’s route note crew on last year’s Monte Carlo Rally.

They’ve kept in contact ever since, bonded by a mutual love for a lightweight icon.

“We’ve always stayed chatty since Monte Carlo,” Fair says, “we both are just keen for rallying I suppose.

“Funnily enough as well I’ve got my wee [Vauxhall] Nova and Jon’s got a Nova as well that he’s wanting to build up, so we’ve been chatting Nova s*** and just got a common interest as such.”

This weekend their common interest will be delivering a top result for the upgraded Rally3 Fiesta. Fair hopes it can lead to more opportunities with Armstrong, with a long-term aspiration to be regularly competing in an international championship.

Family and business will always come first.

“When I come back I know I need to knuckle down for a few weeks and catch back up,” Fair says.

But for the week, the apron is in the cupboard as the racing overalls are zipped back up. The fish will still be fried, but the dream is very much back alive.