There are times when our sport can be an insular business, many participants rarely focusing beyond the boundaries of their own particular discipline.
Dave Metcalfe was different.
His was a versatile talent. He proved it many times over in rallying, where he specialised in achieving improbable results with (relatively) underpowered, two-wheel drive cars. After a guest run in Vauxhall’s rallycross Nova, he enjoyed himself so much that he built up a Formula C Nova of his own. Inevitably, he was competitive. Last year, he tried circuit racing for the first time, and he proved to be no less capable at that, taking third place first time out in a Caterham Vauxhall.
A works Vauxhall driver since 1988, he was to have driven an Astra in this year’s Mobil 1/Top Gear British Rally Championship. Sadly, we’ll never know what further giant-killing exploits he might have achieved. Just before Christmas, Metcalfe lost his life in a road accident close to his native Kendal. An affable and courteous man, Dave, aged 35, was one of his sport’s true ambassadors.
He learned the ropes in grasstrack racing, before moving on to road rallies and subsequently stage events. His reputation flourished as he chalked up a succession of class wins in the 1983 BTRDA series, at the wheel of an Escort 1600, and continued to blossom as he progressed to an Opel Manta. GM offered him factory support if he switched to an Astra in 1985. He did, and on occasion he proved capable of beating the full works cars.
His unfailing spirit with factory Novas brought him many laudable results, and he never once complained that he didn’t have a machine capable of challenging for outright victory.
A couple of weeks before the accident in which he perished, he took part in a charity kart meeting, competing with his usual vim and a smile on his face. The previous day, he’d been at Brands Hatch, spectating at the British Rallycross Grand Prix.
Truly, he loved the sport. More to the point, the sport treasured him. We mourn the loss of a gifted and unassuming sportsman, and pass on our deepest condolences to his family and countless friends and associates within the industry.