Wednesday 17 January 2018

Tributes paid after top race-diver dad is killed in tragic accident

Top drivers husband and wife Simon and Deirdre McKinley with their 11-month-old son Rory
Top drivers husband and wife Simon and Deirdre McKinley with their 11-month-old son Rory

EMOTIONAL tributes have been made to the motorsport driver who tragically lost his life in a horrific accident.

Dad-of-one Simon McKinley, (34) from Naul, Co Dublin, died when his car went out of control and came to a sudden halt during a race on Saturday.

The four-time Irish Hillclimb and Sprint champion was competing in the first event of this year’s competition in Ballyvaughan Co Clare.

Last night his wife, Deirdre McKinley told the Herald she was too devastated to speak.

His father Peter McKinley said that his son was “such an important part of my life” and that he believed a mechanical error was to blame for his death.

“I do think something went amiss, I don’t believe it was driver error, there wasn’t even any break marks on the road,” Mr McKinley said.

“It all happened so quickly, he was going at a speed of 140 miles an hour,” he said.

“He was such an important part of my life, for 34 years.

“He’s got a wife and an 11-month-old baby and in the end of the day you have to hold things together. I love my son with all my heart and it’s really sad he’s gone,” he added.

Simon and his wife Deirdre had been dubbed ‘Ireland’s fastest family’ due to his record, and Deirdre was one of the highest-ranking female motorists in the world. They have an 11-month-old son named Rory.

Ten days ago the Herald spoke with Mr McKinley and his wife about their mutual love for motorsport.

“Simon has been involved in motorsports since he was five, he started on a bike and he literally went from one thing to the next,” Ms McKinley said at the time. “He has been driving all of his life and we even met through the sport.”

His best friends Dermot Nolan (47) and Daryl Ramsay (40) paid an emotional tribute to “the nicest man you could ever meet”.

Mr Ramsay, who was an official at the race, was one of the first people to hear the news that Mr McKinley had died and cleared the road to allow the ambulance through.

Mr Mc Kinley was described as a “car nut”, who spent his life fixing others people’s vehicles and breaking records internationally.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Simon was the best racing driver in the country,” said Mr Nolan. “He could make a car dance.”

Motorsport Ireland and Clare Motor Club cancelled the remainder of yesterday’s event as a mark of respect.

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