I woke up at 5am this morning and not being able to sleep I checked my phone only to see stream of messages saying that Neville Brett had passed away.
I instantly thought no way, someone has played a sick joke, I know its wrong to say that Neville would be the last person you would ever expect to die because we never know what is around the corner, but I honestly could not believe that Neville, someone who is larger than life itself was gone – sure enough once I went onto Facebook my timeline was awash with tributes and pictures to the man himself…. I was gutted.
It would be very easy for me to say that Neville and I were best buddies now that he is gone but that would be completely hypocritical and I think its fair to say we didn’t see eye to eye on a couple of occasions we had a bit of a love/hate relationship when it came to him and AE86irl but it was impossible to dislike him, in fact it was the opposite it was impossible not to admire the man for doing the things in a car that the rest of us would never be brazen or mad enough to do in public!
Everyone who has been in the AE86 scene in Ireland has a story about an encounter with Neville and once you met him once you were guaranteed never to forget him the guy was a completely eccentric, manic, once off character who was the centre of attention wherever he went. Mention the name Neville Brett to anyone and they will have a tale to tell.
Personally, the first time I met Neville was at the Rally of the Lakes 2006. I was just after forming AE86irl earlier that year and our first meet was going to be the Saturday night of the rally weekend at the Lidl car park in Killarney – We only had a couple of hundred members by that stage so I spent the day driving around leaving notes on windscreens of twincams – the stage was set and I couldn’t wait to get the cars together and start spreading the word about the website. The meet started well and then Neville pulled in driving a GTi – Looking back I think he must have been a bit pissed off that he didn’t have a twincam for the Lakes that year because without ever meeting him before he started straight away into boasting about how many twincams he had owned. Thinking he was a bit touched we humoured him for a while before moving away. The meet was going pretty well until a security guard arrived and started blocking cars from getting in – one car drove around him and he lashed out a kick at it. This was like a red rag to a bull for Neville who hopped out of his car and started pushing the rent-a-cop out of the way allowing the rest of the queue of cars to get in. And what was meant to be a quiet get together turned into mayhem when Neville egged on a group of lads which I am kinda ashamed to say included me to start diffing in the car park – that night ended up being complete madness with twincams blackening every available spot around Killarney – it was completely the opposite to what I wanted the site to be about but it was our very first meet and something I will never forget… and thanks to Neville by the end of the lakes that year every twincam owner knew about AE86irl.
This was only the start of his relationship with the site – Throughout the years and despite branding us all a group of ‘polishers’ Neville religiously turned up at our meets and always put on a show he loved to play up to his status as a rebel, at our meets in Tullow even though we had one simple rule … No diffing indoors – he had to break it and I would be lying if I said it didn’t bring a smile to my face and everyone elses as it was classic Neville he loved to defy everything and everyone and show that he as he put it ‘Didn’t give a Fuck’. There was no point even trying to point out to him that it was not the done thing as thats the very reason he did it in the first place!
He had a passion for Toyotas which was unrivalled and even though he took great pleasure in ‘wrecking’ everywhere he went I honestly think he had more love for his cars than those he loved to take this piss out of who have spent thousands upon thousands on their garage queens.
He was renowned for his driving anyone I have spoken to never forgets getting a drive with Neville I always wondered if it was pure talent or just complete lack of any fear whatsoever – I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle, once behind the wheel of a car especially a twincam he was like a man possessed, his tall frame and unique driving position made him instantly recognisable and you knew the days entertainment was about to begin when he arrived – It is just a shame he never got to complete his rally car as I think it would have been mind blowing to have seen him drive competitively. His biggest problem would have been finding someone who had the balls to sit in the co-drivers seat!
Throughout his life Neville was branded everything from a Nut Job to the most ignorant man in Ireland – catch him on the wrong day and this could well be true! – he spent much of his life telling people he Didn’t give a Fuck and arguing with anyone who didn’t go along with his view that cars were for wrecking regardless of time or place.
But the big secret to Neville was that he did give a fuck – Behind all of the front and the manic driving he was a really misunderstood genuine nice guy who would be the first to help in any situation I have heard countless stories of kindness he showed to less fortunate people when delivering coal and he would never see anyone stuck always offering to lend people his cars – with one proviso – that it didn’t come back with any thread left on the rear tyres! It is appropriate that his latest username on here (after multiple bannings!) is TheLegend because thats what he is and will always be remembered as to those who met him during his much too short life.
I would urge everyone to take a small leaf out of his book tonight and do a few donuts somewhere in honour of a complete enigma and mad bastard who will never be forgotten. I think it would be a great tribute to the man as the roads will be a quieter place from now on.
Our Christmas meet this year will be dedicated to his memory.
Paddy & all at AE86irl