Obituary – Brian Patterson, 1944-2020
Irish rallying lost its sparkle at the weekend with the passing of Brian Patterson after a short illness. And not just Irish rallying, right across the UK the double act of Brian & Liz Patterson brought enlightenment and entertainment to the masses with their mobile on-event Rally Bulletin service.
Long before the smartphone, there was only one way to find out what was going on during a rally, get yourself a ‘RallyNews’ bulletin.
Brian was a regular sight at stage finishes and service areas gathering news from drivers, co-drivers and officials which was then passed to Liz who typed it up, cut the duplicator skins and then ran off thousands of copies of their one page summaries on hand cranked printers. In the early days, the bulletins were tucked under the windscreen wipers of their Volvo estate for fans and crews to pick up in passing, but such was the demand for information that volunteer crews were called upon to distribute them around car parks, spectator areas and anywhere else along the route of a rally.
Far from making the job easier, the arrival of portable generators, photocopiers and laptops simply meant they could do more. And they never let up. The pair of them seemed to flit from one rally to the next and were probably one of the most frequent users of the ferry service between Ireland and the UK as they hopped backwards and forwards covering events right across Ireland and all rounds of the British Championship plus Britain’s WRC counter and many other events in between.
The arrival of the Internet presented not another challenge, but an opportunity. The RallyNews.net website went on line in the late 1990’s as an addition to the on-event hard copy ‘RallyNews’ service. The site gets around 100,000 hits a day during events from fans eager to find out what is happening. It is the next best thing to being there.
There were years when they spent more time on the road attending rallies than they did at home. Their pace and commitment was relentless, and their output genuinely informative, prolific and humorous. That leaves an impossible gap to fill.
This was also why Brian had such an encyclopaedic knowledge of the sport and the personalities. He talked to everyone, and he was just as interested in the tales of those at the back of the field as he was those at the front.
His knowledge and insight also came from his early career exploits as a driver and that background was used too when he established the Patterson Pacenotes service which has become and continues to be the most widely used route note supplier within the UK and Ireland.
That was perhaps another reason for the speed at which bulletins were distributed. The Volvo gave way to a Mercedes estate which was hussled mercilessly around the lanes in Ireland and Wales and the back roads of England and Scotland in pursuit of the cars and the stories. And when you consider the amount of hardware and paperwork that was carried in the back of that long suffering wagon one can only marvel at how the suspension and tyres coped on that overworked beast of burden which seemed to spend most of its life on its bumpstops with an engine which was never cold! Maybe now it will get the chance to settle on its springs and allow the engine to cool.
The whole sport will miss him, the bunnet, the banter, the brogue and the ever present cigarette, but none more so than Liz and the boys Michael, Chris, Jonathan and Davy. Our condolences to them, the rest of the family and grandchildren, and their many friends right across the globe.
Due to current circumstances the funeral service will be private. For those wishing to pay their respects (whilst practicing social distancing) Brian’s funeral will be leaving Fleming & Cuthbert Funeral Home 141 Mill Road, Ballyclare, BT39 9DZ on Wednesday 5th August at 11.00 am proceeding to Drumbo Presbyterian Churchyard arriving approx 11.45 am.