Terry O’Reilly Memorial

If I had just one more time.

Steve-and-TerryEvery once in a while, there is that one person that stands out in a crowd, brightens up a room, or who’s charisma is so engaging that it leaves a lasting impression on you. They have that personality that puts everyone at ease as they meander through the room greeting everyone. They make you feel that you are the most important person in that room at that time.

That was my brother. I have witnessed it many times and it never ceased to amaze me. Terry deserved it. He was a highly successful trial lawyer, a protector of the innocent, deeply involved with his community, supported music and rugby organizations on a national and local level, was extremely generous in his time and money, and loved his family and friends. But I will always remember him for our shared love of cars.

Terry passed last October 16, 2015 after a saddening battle with pancreatic cancer.  He lived his life to the fullest always grabbing at all opportunities where he could improve, support or enrich people’s lives. He will be hard to forget and I personally will miss the rallying events we shared together. Even this website is a testimony to his desire to leave and share his love for cars to all that pass by.

Rallying was a natural progression. His accomplishments allowed him the opportunity to collect and drive some amazing and rare vintage cars. He loved English cars. He loved to share them. No trailer queens for Terry. He believed that cars were meant to be driven, to feel and hear the rain, the mud collecting in the wheel wells, and the joy of cleaning them after a good days ride. Well maybe not so much the cleaning part as I often found myself at the end of that long day holding a bucket and rag while Terry found the bar.

I’ve been lucky enough to rally with Terry through the deserts and mountains of Arizona on two separate occasions; once in a ’49 Lincoln Coupe that originally ran in the Mexican PanAm and once in a very unique ’54 Bentley Special.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the E-type Jaguar, we retraced the historic steps of test driver/engineer Norman Dewes from Coventry, England to Geneva, Switzerland in a very large sedan – the Jaguar Mk. VII. Terry didn’t own an E-type. No bother – we showed up anyway.

Together we have awoken slumbering Texans in a ‘66 Ford Mustang GTR as we blasted along the country hillside roads. The V8 with straight exhaust could be heard for miles and equipped with racing seats and 6 point seat belt harness, it could not be considered comfortable!  Loud, uncomfortable and very, very fast! What could be better?

Terry’s idea of organized rallying is probably not what most would expect either. We only used the charts to get us where we needed to go preferring the “oh, let’s stop here approach”. We never kept our times. We missed our stage times by, well, I have no idea. We once set a record for the worst rally time in the history of the organized rally. We won a pewter Armadillo for our efforts and Terry loved that award!

Of all our travels, the one that will have to be filed as the one that got away is by far the one rally I wish we had finished, or started for that matter. In October 2012, Terry and I attempted to enter the world class “La Carrera Panamericana” in the ’49 Lincoln. Entered in the “Original Carrera” class and the 25th anniversary of the re-established race, we had high hopes of finishing and even a possible podium position. This rally is like no other as it contains both timed runs and open sections where the roads are closed and you are allowed to race as fast as you dared. It is a grueling rally covering over 1200 miles of desert, mountain, and sea coast roads in 6 days. To finish in an old car is a victory unto itself. After months of preparation, meeting all the FIA requirements, packing our race gear, acquiring tickets and hotels, we were ready a week before the race! Unfortunately, in a test drive that same week the engine gave out and we were done. Kaput. Nada mas. Finito. Apparently engines need oil.

In our travels, we shared many a story and many a tall tale. We argued over whose music we would listen to and that would always end up in a compromise – we listened to his iPod. He literally once threw a CD of mine out the window when he couldn’t quite get behind the sounds of Lil’ Cap’n Travis. I admit, he probably wasn’t without some justice in doing so.

We talked politics, Napoleon’s battle strategies through France, the benefits and drawbacks of owning old cars, tropical shaved ice or just about anything that came to mind as the miles quickly rolled by. But we rarely talked about his work. I firmly believed that this was his escape. A chance to leave all the responsibilities and demands he had back in the real world. Rallying transported him away. I respected that and never asked.

It’s a hard lonely ride now when I take my ’78 Porsche 911SC out for a spin as it reminds me that I will never get a chance to share a ride with my big brother again. Knowing Terry, he has probably already organized a rally in Heaven, is feeling the wind in his face, has the radio blasting traditional jazz and is looking forward to the bar at the end to share the day’s memories.

Keep it between the ditches Terry. Love you much!

– Steve