A PER­SONAL TRIB­UTE

Classic Racer - - PADDOCK GOSSIP -

Des Collins put more in to road racing in the Is­land than most peo­ple are aware of. In a won­der­ful, per­sonal trib­ute, Ron­nie Rus­sell paints a pic­ture of an ex­cep­tional man... I first met Des when I was 19/20 back in 1973/4, which is more than half Des’s life­time. We started out with me buy­ing my first racing bike (Belfast Tele­graph Yam­sel) from him and since then Des be­came my spon­sor, em­ployer, men­tor, con­fi­dant, fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor, at­tor­ney, part­ner and above all my great friend. As I lost my par­ents when I was young, I of­ten turned to Des for sound ad­vice, words of wis­dom and in­spi­ra­tion in all man­ner of things. Des al­ways had an amaz­ing knack of con­ver­sa­tion and would have great rap­port with who­ever he was talk­ing to whether it was a two-year-old or a 100-year-old, he told great and in­ter­est­ing sto­ries with great hu­mour. Des never raced but I felt he kind of rode pil­lion with many of his rid­ers and he rel­ished them telling their race sto­ries. His favourite race was the MGP which his rid­ers won four times as op­posed to the TT say­ing: “It’s bet­ter to be a big fish in a small pond” but he loved all races and had an un­canny knack of know­ing the form of rid­ers and their re­sults. Des and I have had some ar­gu­ments over the years as we both be­lieved we were right. On those oc­ca­sions, it would be left to Dot and Helen to knock our heads to­gether to get us to sort things out which we al­ways did. Des was for­ever try­ing to get me in a job or some busi­ness op­por­tu­nity and would get very frus­trated with me when I would say I was no longer chas­ing that kind of thing. I know he wanted bet­ter for me as he was con­vinced that I should be a mil­lion­aire by now. Over the last few years, Des and I would have long con­ver­sa­tions while we were out trav­el­ling the Is­land meet­ing peo­ple and see­ing things. We talked of many things like re­li­gion, pol­i­tics, health is­sues, re­la­tion­ships. Some­times Des’s views would shock, dis­ap­point, amuse and puz­zle me. How­ever, his views could also in­spire me and were al­ways of great in­ter­est. I will miss those times very much. I would now like to share with you some­thing that hap­pened just over a year ago, and showed that Des’s grey cells were work­ing on all cylin­ders. Since we have been part­ners in TCR we usu­ally would try and put a plan to­gether for the fol­low­ing year be­fore Christ­mas. Des was al­ways try­ing to go big­ger, bet­ter and above all louder for our big show at the Grand­stand, but af­ter 2015 I said it was too much work for me keep­ing ev­ery­one happy and I was sparked out. He took this sur­pris­ingly well but he had a crafty look on his face and said that we should think out­side the box and make some proper money. Des had my in­ter­est in that, and we came up with a few good ideas on pa­per to put to Paul Phillips and his team, but knocked each one back for var­i­ous rea­sons un­til Des came up with his mas­ter­plan to dom­i­nate the Grand­stand which I found as­tound­ing due to its sheer au­dac­ity. We would hire a wall of death from the UK or Europe for a week and set it up at the Grand­stand. To draw in the crowds (and money) Des said we would host a match race for the stars and get John Mcguin­ness ENG, Michael Dun­lop IRE, and Con­nor Cum­mins MANX to race at the same time around and around in­side the wall of death! He was laugh­ing away say­ing he could just see Con­nor nail­ing John and Michael’s asses to the wall. ‘Des’, I said, ‘are you in­sane?’ They would never al­low that to hap­pen be­cause of al­most cer­tain in­juries, in­sur­ance is­sues, team or­ders etc. He re­luc­tantly agreed but we did pur­sue just the wall of death show and still made en­quiries re­gard­ing bring­ing it over. Des was never short of an idea! Well, af­ter some years of pain and dis­com­fort, Des has been re­leased. Good­bye com­rade Ron­nie Rus­sell

From left: Des, Ron­nie and Hec­tor Neill.

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