Businessman John Mulholland has been praised as a “gentleman” whose word was his bond, following his death from cancer at the weekend.
Originally from north Belfast, the 55-year-old car dealer and rally enthusiast passed away on Saturday, surrounded by his family, following a 14-month battle with the disease.
Last night, the president of the Northern Ireland Motor Club – promoters of the Ulster Rally – said it had been an effortless pleasure forging a sponsorship deal with someone whose “life revolved around motors and motorsport”.
Robert Harkness said: “It was the easiest of all sponsorship deals – there was 10 minutes discussion, 20 minutes detailing and a handshake – nothing more was needed.
“That was the way John lived his life. He was a gentleman, his handshake was all anyone needed, and it was one of the most successful of partnerships.
“The Ulster Rally team extend their condolences to John’s family and friends, and to the members of his staff that worked so enthusiastically with the John Mulholland Ulster Rally.”
The British Rally Championship described the Co Antrim businessman as a “gentleman and a legend,” and added: “We are saddened at the loss of John Mulholland, a massive supporter of the BRC and rallying as a whole.”
A post on the John Mulholland Motor Group Facebook said the owner had “turned his matchbox cars into a real life,” by creating an “award winning, thriving car showroom, which he filled with love, energy and enthusiasm”.
It said: “He rallied most of the roads in Ireland and further afield. He applied perfectionism and professionalism to everything he did yet somehow managed to have more fun than anyone.
“Most importantly, he was a father and husband. Everything he did, every deal he made, every late hour spent at work was for his family who are now completely heartbroken.”
The post adds: “If you ever had the pleasure of meeting John, you will know the impact he left on you and the room. His energy was infectious and his passion and charisma for what he did will remain infamous.
“The self-marketing campaigns will go down as the best in history.”
It adds that funeral details have not yet been confirmed.
The Randalstown businessman operated car dealerships in both his home town and at Campsie in Co Londonderry.
He is survived by wife, Alicia, children, Alicia, Shona, Johnnie and Anna, father Dermot, twin brother Paul and brother Barry.