Tributes to popular motor sport figure Colin Butt who died when…

Warm tributes have been paid to 66-year-old Colin Butt who died after his car tipped over during a hill-climb event near Exeter.

The open top Marlin Sport kit-car driven by Mr Butt had made it almost to the top of the hill where it stopped.

It is believed Mr Butt applied the brake, but the car rolled back down the hill.

It then collided with a bank and the car tipped over. Mr Butt and the passenger, a man in his 30s, were thrown out. Mr Butt suffered head and chest injuries. The passenger had a minor arm injury.

Police said Mr Butt died at the scene and the passenger was taken to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital after the incident near Clifford Bridge, on the edge of Dartmoor, near Moretonhampstead, on Saturday afternoon.

Mr Butt, of Uffculme, near Cullompton, was a director of South West Poultry Installations, based at Uffculme, where his son Wayne, 45, of Tiverton, works.

Mr Butt also leaves a daughter, Sarah, 42.

His son said Mr Butt had been involved in motor sport all his life, having started racing motorbikes as a teenager.

Wayne also took up motorcycle racing, supported by his father, and became a professional rider at the age of 17. Following an injury to Wayne in 1994, Mr Butt took up Land Rover trialling, then supported his son’s return to racing several years later.

Wayne said: “He was my mentor, he was my mechanic, he was 100 per cent for me and supported me in everything I did. He supported me 100 per cent and took me racing all over the country.

“He was so passionate about motor sports, it was his life.

“He did everything he could to get involved in motor sport, whether it was marshalling or running meetings, he would be there. He was 100 per cent dedicated to the sport.”

Tributes have been made to Mr Butt from figures in the world of motor sport, with many messages posted on Facebook.

Comments describe him as ‘one of the nicest blokes’ who ‘loved his racing’. He would be ‘sadly missed by the motocross family’.

Others described him as a ‘great man’ and a ‘true inspiration’ and his death was a ‘huge loss’ to motor sport in the region.

Family friend Mark Slade, 42, of Weston-super-Mare, who grew up near Dulverton, got to know the Butts as a youngster through motocross when he rode alongside Wayne.

He said: “I remember one incident when Dad got a tractor stuck in a ditch, and Colin came out that night with a tractor to pull him out.

“He was a straightforward man’s man, but very kind-hearted, and became like a father figure to me.”

Motocross rider Jamie Harris said on Facebook the sport would ‘never be the same’ following the loss of Mr Butt, and said he “brought such a good spirit and atmosphere that put a smile on everyone’s faces no matter what problems there were, no matter the results or anything.” He added: “You’ll never be forgotten”.

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Mr Butt recovered from bowel cancer diagnosed in 2011, and had recently been diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. But his son said his father did not allow illness to affect him.

Wayne added: “On Friday night we were sitting in the garage and he was getting the car ready, we were all laughing and joking.

“We have been blown away by what people have said about him, and that people thought so well of him.”

Wayne said his father had owned the Marlin kit-car for around two and half years. He had entered smaller trials, but he believed this year was his father’s first time in the Exeter Trial. The event is in its 88th year.

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The Motor Sports Association, the governing body of four-wheel UK motor sport, said: “As with all serious incidents in or around UK motor sport, the MSA is now working with the event-organising club and the police to establish precisely what happened on this occasion.

“The MSA sends its sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased and offers the injured competitor its very best wishes for a full recovery.”

More than 300 cars and motorbikes were taking part in the 240-mile event that takes place annually at the beginning of January.

During the trial there are several sections on private land where a selection of different vehicles, including motorbikes, use rough tracks and have to tackle steep hills.

Police officers from the Exeter Serious Collision Investigation Unit attended the scene and appealed for witnesses to contact them on 101 or by email to quoting log number 0367 of 07/01/17.

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