Rally ace Glenn Allen will be sadly missed by all
Glenn Allen, who died at the weekend, was one of Northern Ireland's leading rally drivers, a burly, affable character who set the special stage roads and forest tracks of Ireland alight.
A garage owner from Cookstown and part of a group of rally winners from Mid Ulster which included Charlie and Eugene Donnelly, all centred on the McGeehan Motorsport team in Draperstown, Glenn won the Northern Ireland Championship in 2007 before stepping back to concentrate on his car body repair business.
Renowned for his early all-action performances in Ford Escorts, it was when he switched to a WRC Toyota Corolla that he won the Northern Ireland title in a battle with Stephen Moore that went down to the final round on the Glens of Antrim Rally.
In fact, it took three different Corollas to win the title. His long-time co-driver Damien Connolly recalled: "At one point in the year we were leading both the Northern Ireland and the Irish National Championships but we had a very bad accident on the Raven's Rock Rally and the car was virtually written off.
"We had been beaten by Kevin Lynch in the NI series for the last couple of years and Glenn was determined that he wasn't going to let it go this time so we borrowed one of the Corollas from McGeehan Motorsport for the Down Rally but we rolled that one too!
"Glenn's own car was re-shelled and re-built in time for the final round and when Stephen Moore crashed out we were the champions. We called him the three-car champion after that."
Connolly sat beside him in over 100 rallies and even ended up in hospital with him on one occasion.
"It was just my second rally with him, the Lakeland Stages in 2003, and we crashed our WRC Ford Escort very heavily at what has forever after been called Glenn's Corner," he said.
"It was a big hit and we were both taken to the Erne Hospital. I wasn't too bad but Glenn suffered three broken ribs. It didn't deter him in the slightest and it wasn't long before he was back at it again.
"We had some great times together, winning the two-day Cork Forest Rally in 2005 and almost winning the Irish Championship that year. We won the Easter Stages that year, too, our first time in the Corolla and then left the prize-giving to drive to Waterford overnight to do another rally in the Escort, finishing second.
"Glenn loved his rallying and he was very good. Maybe he didn't have the best cars but he more than made up for it with his commitment and his ability. He was a fun guy but a real hard worker, too. I'm devastated to think he won't be around anymore."
Former Circuit of Ireland winner and multiple Irish champion Eugene Donnelly was stunned by the death of his friend.
He said: "Glenn was a great guy and great competitor. We had many battles down the years and it is impossible to believe he has gone so suddenly.
"Only a few weeks ago he contributed to a DVD about my rally career which is coming out for Christmas. I cannot believe he has gone so suddenly. It is so sad and my heart goes out to his heartbroken family."
Glenn, who was 47, is survived by his son Philip, daughter Nicole and his partner Olivia. He had attended a wedding in Portrush at the weekend and he later left to walk back to his holiday home nearby but, although he had no known health problems, he appears to have collapsed and his body was found by the roadside.
His funeral is expected to be held in Cookstown on Thursday.