Tributes paid to champion motor sport driver who died in crash
Tributes have been paid to one of Ireland's top drivers driver who died following at crash at an event.
Four-time reigning Irish Hillclimb and Sprint Champion Simon McKinley was pronounced dead at the Clare Motor Club Hillclimb yesterday afternoon.
The 34-year-old man, from The Naul, Co Dublin, crashed on the road between Carron and Bell Harbour at "Scalp Hill" at 5.30pm.
Gardai are investigating.
McKinley is survived by his wife Deirdre, who is one of the highest-ranking motorists in the world after coming third in the International Hillclimb Masters last year, and their infant son Rory.
The couple met 13 years ago at a hill-climb race in Limerick and have taken home trophies together ever since.
Motorsport Ireland and Clare Motor Club cancelled the remainder of yesterday's event as a mark of respect.
"Motorsport Ireland and Clare Motor Club extend their heartfelt sympathy to Simon’s family and friends,” it said in a statement.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very sad time.”
Gardai said the driver was treated for serious injuries at the scene, but was pronounced dead.
His body was removed to University Hospital Limerick, where a post mortem will be held.
Leo Nulty, of Motorsport.ie, said it was a very sad day for Irish motorsport.
“Simon McKinley was (and I can’t believe I am writing about him in the past tense) a very special guy,” he wrote on his site.
“We have lost one of the very best.”
Commending his driving talents, Mr Nulty said there were days when you thought McKinley “could walk on water when you watched him drive”.
“Not only did this make him a multiple champion in his beloved discipline of hillclimbing but it ensured him eternal legendary status on YouTube, with well over a million views on his various videos,” he said.
“Look beyond this though and Simon was special in other ways.
“I know people say this about anyone who passes, but he was extremely helpful to other competitors and almost as good with the spanners as he was with the steering wheel.”
Hillclimb and Sprint is a branch of motorsport where drivers compete against the clock in an uphill course, finishing out in a 'sprint' to the finish line.