Why the McRae name is returning to Irish soil

Success on the Emerald Isle has been something of a McRae family tradition, and Max McRae is keen to continue that


The McRae name boasts huge international acclaim – but in Ireland it really means something.

And no, it’s not down to Colin – even if the 1995 world champion did win both the Circuit of Ireland and the Ulster in a Subaru Legacy on his way up to the global stage.

It’s thanks to his dad: Jimmy. Seven wins on the grueling Circuit of Ireland – and the 1980 Irish Tarmac title – would do that right enough.

But this week, it’s time for the next generation of McRae to make their mark as Max McRae, Jimmy’s grandson, begins his European summer tour with the Donegal International Rally

861116GB McRae 2 (1)

“I’ve been looking forward to this moment for so long – it’s going to be awesome,” said McRae.

“Like you can imagine, I’m really looking forward to all of the events, but Donegal is going to be a really exciting one. I don’t have a lot of experience on Tarmac and that’s why we’ve gone for this event.

“That and the fact that my Dad seems to love the place – he’s told me a bunch of stories about how amazing the roads are over there. I’ve watched a lot of onboards from the rally and I can honestly say I agree! They look amazing.”

Max’s dad, Alister, did Donegal twice in the 1990s – firstly in 1995 with a Nissan Sunny where he was rewarded with a fine seventh overall and first in class, before he returned a year later in a Volkswagen Golf but retired from second in class on the fourth stage with gearbox failure.

It’s definitely going to benefit me more if we get some more rain and changeable weather – that’s where I’m going to learn the most Max McRae

But Max’s mission isn’t to set the world alight (even if the world will be keenly watching) in Letterkenny. Instead, he just wants to guide his Ford Fiesta Rally4 through all the stages and make sure he makes the finish on Sunday.

“The priority for me in Ireland is to get experience,” he said.

“It would be nice if the weather stayed consistent and quite sunny, but it’s definitely going to benefit me more if we get some more rain and changeable weather – that’s where I’m going to learn the most.

“Competing in Australia has been fantastic and we’ve made a really good start to the season in the Subaru [Impreza WRX] we’re using down there, but I know how important it is to compete in Europe as well,” McRae added.

Max McRae - Australian Rally Championship - Rally Queensland 2021.

“It’s going to be interesting to have a look at the times and see what’s going on and where we’re at. But, like I said, the priority is to get through the stages and understand the roads.”

Donegal precedes an exciting array of events in a variety of different cars for McRae. Next up, a fortnight after Donegal, will be a run in a Fiesta Rally2 at the McRae Rally Challenge around Knockhill race circuit before a return to gravel and the Fiesta Rally4 for the Nicky Grist Stages in Wales.

The 17-year-old is also set to star at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the week between Donegal and the McRae event.

Words:Luke Barry