Colin Steele McRae, (05AUG1968 – 15SEP2007) was a Scottish World Rally Championship (WRC) driver, the son of five-time British Rally Champion, Jimmy McRae and older brother of professional driver Alister McRae. He won the world driver’s title in 1995 as the first British national, was championship runner-up in 1996, 1997 and 2001, and third in 1998 when he won the Race of Champions. He helped Subaru to the World Rally Manufacturer’s title in 1995, 1996 and 1997, and Citroën in 2003. He had won 25 rallies and 477 stages in the WRC and has competed in the Paris-Dakar Rally and the 24 Hours of Le Mans competitions in recent years as well. He was famous for his aggressive and very quick driving style, some people have knicknamed him as “McCrash” for some of his spectacular high speed crashes. There is also a world-famous computer game series named after him: Colin McRae Rally by Codemasters.
McRae was married to his wife Alison, with whom they had two children: Hollie (9) and Johnny. He had moved to Monaco in 1995, partly through his friendship with fellow Scot and Formula One driver David Coulthard, but has recently moved back to Scotland, where the couple bought the 17th century Jerviswood House.
At approximately 4:10 pm on 15SEP2007, about 1 mile north of Lanark, Scotland, close to this McRae family home, he was flying his AS350B2 Twin Squirrel helicopter registered G-CBHL, when it crashed. McRae held a pilot’s licence and travelled by helicopter on a regular basis. According to the reports, the 39 year old Colin was piloting the helicopter himself at the time of the crash. According to scotsman.com “Police sources said the blue helicopter used by the multi-millionaire had exploded in a “fireball”. Eyewitness David Lowry, 48, who owns New Steadings Farm, just across the Mouse Water from McRae’s home, saw the helicopter crash. He said: “I was speaking to one of my friends on the farm. The helicopter came overhead and then dropped into the valley. After it disappeared I saw smoke rising from the trees and phoned the emergency services. I could not see what happened when it went down. It did not seem to be in any trouble. It was about half a mile from me and the helicopter seemed to be flying normally. It was navy blue in colour and I am led to believe it belongs to Colin McRae. It is up so often my cattle don’t even flinch when it is overhead.”
Police confirmed the next day that McRae, his five year old son Johnny, and two family friends, Graeme Duncan (good friend of Colin’s since school) and Johnny’s six year old friend Ben Porcelli, died in the crash. A page at his website has since been made available allowing fans to post messages of condolence.