Dessie Nutt – the Killarney Historic Rally’s most successful driver passes away
An air of sadness swept over the Kerry rally community on the news that Dessie Nutt, the man who made the Killarney Historic Rally his own, passed away on Wednesday.
The Derry-based doctor enjoyed a storied rally career that goes back over 50 years and while he won just about every accolade possible in that time, it is his results on the Killarney Historic Rally that he will be fondly remembered for in this part of the world.
He contested the first Killarney Historic rally in 1996, finishing second to John Keatley. Nutt was the first-ever rally leader and only lost the position to Keatley in the latter stages of the inaugural event.
He made amends in 1997, he and his co-driver Elkin Robinson kept everything in control over the twisting stages in South Kerry and Cork. Nutt had already won the Tarmac and British Championships in 1997, the win in Killarney bringing his season to an ideal conclusion.
He won again in 1998, again the wheel of the familiar Porsche, in a remarkable start to finish victory, winning seven of the event’s eight stages.
His hat-trick came in 1999.
Nutt led the 2000 event from start to finish too, but had been fortunate to emerge from the opening stage following a meeting with an errant deer – his Porsche 911 struck the animal but did not incur any damage.
He maintained his remarkable run of success on the Killarney Historic Rally when he won his fifth title in 2002 finishing the ten-stage event 1m 21seconds ahead of the similar Porsche of Keatley.
Britain’s Steve Perez won the 2003 Killarney Historic Rally by over a minute in his Porsche 911 from the similar Porsche of defending champion – Dessie Nutt.
In 2004 Nutt took his sixth victory on the Killarney Historic Stages Rally with a trouble-free run in the same Porsche 911.
His seventh event win came on the 2006 Great Stuff Caterers Killarney Historic Rally.
The rally came to a dramatic conclusion when he snatched victory on the final stage, Shanera, from long-time leader Ray Cunningham – just one second separated the drivers!
There are many more Killarney highlights, including the Rally of the Lakes and the old Circuit of Ireland Rally but Dessie Nutt is best remembered for his Historic rally results and he will be sorely missed next month.
By Sean Moriarty
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