WRC stars share memories of late Martin Holmes

Jari-Matti Latvala and Tommi Makinen recall the veteran journalist's time in the service park


My final call from Prospect Cottage came in February. The number was familiar, the greeting similarly so.

Time, especially time on a round of the World Rally Championship, wasn’t there to be wasted. So he didn’t.

“Martin here. How many points will be awarded for this rally?”

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who got that call in Torsby. In fact, I know I wasn’t. Martin was one to check his facts. And then check them again.

It was with real sadness that the world said goodbye to Martin at his funeral in Surrey on Wednesday July 1. Martin’s ability to take pictures standing on one leg and hold a Dictaphone less than 0.1mm away from a driver’s nose were well known around the service park.

Missing due to ill health and family circumstance for the last couple of years, it was remarkable how often one turned around at an in-control searching the historical context that sat beneath the hair of Doc Emmett Brown.

I liked Martin, but like everything with work and the WRC, there was never time to sit down and listen, really listen to all the stories.

I’m not the only one.

Four-time world champion Tommi Mäkinen supplied some of those stories and heard a few in return.

“There is so big a number of memories I have,” he said. “Martin was always part of the game and his stories would always be good ones. He was professional, really professional and a gentleman. I’m sorry that he’s gone. He did great work.”

Few drivers hung on Holmes’ words in the way Jari-Matti Latvala did. Like Holmes, Latvala is a stickler for detail and a story. So it’s no surprise he can remember precisely where he was the first time he met him.

“It was at the Tempest Stages in 2002,” said Latvala. “His hometown was not far away, so he’d come to say ‘hi.’ I got to know Martin very, very well. Basically, I would see him on every WRC round I was competing on, until he started to miss some events in the last couple of years. I didn’t know what was wrong with him, but you could see he was getting weaker.

“You know, Martin was really part of the heritage of the sport. He knew the history like nobody else, so well. And he could bring all of that us through his stories. It’s very sad for motorsport and for so many people that he’s gone away. Unfortunately, this is the life. We will all remember him very well and the stories that he takes away with him.”