A Tribute to John Flynn
A Tribute to John Flynn – By Mike Marshall
When John Flynn sadly passed away after a relatively short illness on Monday night last, the loss suffered by his daughters, sisters , nephews and nieces and their extended families was felt also by the huge number of friends in the world of motorsport which he had made in the four decades since he first became involved in the then newly formed Killarney and District Motor Club.
In his first few years John was involved in a variety of roles in the Rally of the Lakes, but by 1983 he had taken on taken on a job which he performed in an exemplary manner for the remainder of his life.
Initially operating as Road Open, he combined that with the job of Car Accountability and was never known to leave a single competitor unaccounted for.
In 2003 the role of Car Accountability was separated from Road Open and John continued as Car Accountability, with a variety of drivers, but always with the same meticulous attention to accuracy and an insistence that the number of competitors who came out at the end of the stage had to be equal to the number who started, less those found stopped on the stage.
In order to start his count with certainty he always insisted on personally manning the first control out of Parc Ferme and throughout the remainder of the rally one could rely on clear accurate reports from the Start and Finish of every stage, right through to Final Control and when each successive figure was transmitted, the message “ All accounted for” would invariably follow.
John’s accuracy and dependability as Car Accountability was widely recognized throughout the Munster based clubs and most called on his services in that role for their own events.
Not only did John provide outstanding service to KDMC but his late wife Collette and his sister Sheila ran the results service for the Rally of the Lakes in its’ early years and Collette went on to be Club Secretary for a number of years afterwards.
A less known aspect of John’s involvement in motorsport was his love of Navigation Rallies and also his commitment to Autocross timing, where he was one of a very small number of people who could understand and operate the complex timing system involved in running three cars on a multi-lap course and delivering instant and accurate times consistently throughout the event.
When the Ulster Automobile Club first ran an event known as the Circuit Retro, John took a keen interest in the concept and, always an innovator, felt that such an event, consisting of navigation, test trials and regularity sections, could create a new and less expensive form of motorsport without the cost of traditional stage rallying.
John created and acted as Clerk of the Course for the KDMC Retro Rally which was run over a day and night and could be said to have sown the seeds of an idea which was taken up by the late Maurice Nagle and developed into the very popular Killarney Historic Stages Rally, the only stage rally in Ireland specifically for Historic cars
John started his working life as a milking machine fitter with Westphalia, whose Irish headquarters was then in Castleisland, not far from his home near Scartaglin
When Westphalia moved to Cork, John decided to continue on his own in the plumbing and heating sector and the same attention to detail which characterized every aspect of what John took on was evident in the quality of his work.
With John there was a golden rule that if something was worth doing at all it was worth doing right.
At the awards presentation of the 2022 Rally of the Lakes John became the latest recipient of the Silver Wheel Award, a well deserved recognition of his huge commitment and contribution to motorsport over so many years.
May he Rest in Peace with Collette, who passed away in February 2021.