An Evening with Malcolm Wilson OBE – 3 November 2017

On a chilly night in early November a packed hall was treated to a terrific evening of celebration and reminiscence by the boss of the Cockermouth-based M-Sport rally team, Malcolm Wilson OBE.
The evening had sold out fairly quickly once the word was out and folks arrived to find the hall with tables laid and preparations made for a memorable evening. After a warming meal of tattie-pot and apple crumble, the audience settled back, with drink in hand, to hear from the former rally driver and team supremo. Fortune smiled upon the occasion as the original date in October had been put back to this one in November and little did we know at the time that we would be gathering to celebrate a momentous occasion: the previous weekend M-Sport had secured a unique treble. Never before in recent rallying history had a privately-funded team won both the World Rally Championship manufacturers’ title as well as the drivers’ title, but this M-Sport had done in the Welsh forests on the final weekend in October, topping that off with their Welsh driver, Elfyn Evans, winning the GB rally itself, the first British driver to do so for 15 years. Flanked by Bob and Kendall on the stage, Malcolm spent the first half hour or so of his talk discussing this extraordinary achievement and recalling his personal emotions: “the best 20 minutes of my life,” he remembered, as success followed success. The talk then broadened out into reminiscences of his own rallying days, how the transition to team boss came about, different aspects of running a rally team and so on, all prompted by questions put to him by a warm and enthusiastic audience.
After a short break to recharge glasses Malcolm recommenced and it was noticeable how relaxed he was, really feeling amongst friends at a venue just four miles from where he was born and brought up. He recalled the tough days before Ford came calling in 1996, choosing M-Sport to run their World Rally cars, and then the devastation when they unexpectedly pulled out in 2012. After this year’s success, who knows whether there might be further manufacturers’ backing? The warmth of the feeling in the room, the laughter, the banter all made for a very relaxed evening and yet one where we all felt a real sense of privilege to be able to celebrate with this great Cumbrian a moment in his life that was so defining and one in which we all felt a collective sense of pride.
For those who were there this was an evening and an event that will live long in the memory and one which, I truly believe, will be treasured by all.