Motorsport Ireland launched the Team Ireland Foundation today at the Mansion House in Dublin.
This new initiative, a national programme of support and development for talented drivers in the sports of rallying, racing and karting, was launched by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, President of Motorsport Ireland and the US based philanthropist and long time motorsport fan John Campion.
Martin McKenna, President Motorsport Ireland, said: “I am honoured today to be part of the Team Ireland launch. The programme we have developed for our young gifted and elite drivers is designed to bring the best out of the participants both personally and competitively. The pool of talent we have available to us in Ireland is quite phenomenal and with the support of the foundation, we are confident that our young Team Ireland drivers will make great progress and become the best that they can be and will go on to represent Ireland on an international level.”
The Team Ireland Foundation will focus on identifying, supporting and coaching Irish competitors who can succeed in all categories of competition both domestically and across the globe. The aim is to put Irish drivers at the forefront of international motorsport.
One of Team Ireland Foundation’s main supporters, John Campion flew in from his base in USA to attend the launch. Having left Ireland as a young man with just IR£20 in his pocket, this former roadie to rock stars, now multimillionaire businessman and long time motorsport fan has committed to supporting the foundation from the beginning. Mr Campion is the co-founder and chief executive of APR Energy, a $1.2 billion company in the United States.
Mr Campion said: “As a young boy in Cork I found myself struggling with school and at a loss as to what I would do with my life. But I always felt a bond with motorsport after witnessing Billy Coleman, a farmer who became a world rallying icon, competing near my home in Cork. After seeing Billy rallying I realised then that if you put your mind to it, you could achieve anything.
“After I heard about the Team Ireland Foundation and how the winner of the Billy Coleman Award would be participating in the programme, I felt I had to return to Ireland to offer my support. I believe that every young person needs to be inspired like I was. If some of these young drivers reach their goals and become household names across the motorsport world then they too might inspire a child somewhere to go out and achieve their goals.”
The initiative will be run by Declan Brennan Sports Management and entails specific programmes developed to address nutritional, physical and psychological improvements for the participants over the course of their involvement. The drivers will be chosen from the winners of many of the junior motorsport disciplines, such as rallying and racing, as well as the winners of the elite Billy Coleman and Sexton trophies. They will be offered every opportunity to benefit form a wide range of expertise on offer.
Speaking at the launch, Lord Mayor of Dublin, Críona Ní Dhálaigh, highlighted how important it is to have a safe environment for young drivers to participate in.
Críona Ní Dhálaigh said: “We are all aware that there is an issue in this country with young men taking unnecessary risks on our public roads. All too often you open a newspaper and read about tragic accidents claiming the lives of young drivers – particularly young males from the ages of 17 to 25. Motorsport Ireland has been a force for good in promoting road safety through various programmes for many years and with this new initiative I hope that as a national sports governing body they will be recognised for the work they do to create a safe environment for young people to take part in an organised and regulated sport. To see so many young people here today, determined to be the very best they can be and achieving their goals will, I have no doubt, inspire many of our disenfranchised youth today to try and better themselves.”
Inagural Participants on Team Ireland
Robert Duggan (Kerry) – 2015 Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver of the Year
Jake Byrne (Kildare) – 2015 Motorsport Ireland Young Race Driver of the Year
Josh Moffett (Monaghan) – 2015 Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver of the Year finalist
Jordan Dempsey (Westmeath) – 2015 Motorsport Ireland Young Race Driver of the Year finalist
Patrick O’Brien (Tyrone) – 2015 Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver of the Year finalist
James Roe Jnr (Kildare) – 2015 Motorsport Ireland Young Race Driver of the Year finalist
John O’Sullivan (Cork) – 2015 Irish Tarmac Junior Rally Champion
Program director will be Declan Brennan of Declan Brennan Sports Management. Declan is a former head of DCU’s GAA Sports Academy and worked extensively with Irish Junior World Rally Championship driver, Daniel McKenna last year.
John Campion came from very humble beginnings in Cork. As a child he loved motorsport and rock music. He struggled at school yet has excelled in life, founding and building APR Energy, a $1.2 billion company in the United States of which he is CEO. Now John has returned to Ireland to lend his backing to his first love and a new initiative which will secure the future of motorsport in Ireland
At the age of 18, John was handed IR£20 by his father and sent on his way in life. He made it to the United States and found work as a roadie for the likes of Michael Jackson, David Bowie and other rock icons which led to him founding and building the business that flourishes today. He now wants to give back to society and while he does not like to be called a philanthropist, he is very much of that ilk. He is in Ireland to show his support for a new initiative that Motorsport Ireland is about to launch. John has always felt a tie to motorsport in Ireland after witnessing Billy Coleman, a farmer that became a world rallying icon, competing near his home. He realised then that if you put your mind to it, you could achieve anything.
Below is some further information about John Campion.
• John had a difficult childhood in Ireland. He was constantly told by his teachers and other authority figures that he would amount to nothing.
• One important memory for him was when he was 13 and watching his passion, World Rally Car Rallying, with his Dad and brother. Out of the mist came Billy Coleman screaming along in a 1975 Stratos Lancia.
• Rallying became an obsession for him – and Billy an icon who proved that you could do anything. This was the inspiration he needed to determine to make something of himself.
• When he was 18 his Dad gave him IR£20 and sent him on his way.
• He arrived in America penniless and started working as a lighting roadie – soon to become the head electrician on the tours.
• More can be read on his website http://johnjcampion.com/
• His big breaks came with David Bowie, Kiss, Michael Jackson and the Rolling Stones tours.
• He devised ways to provide power for high-energy shows which led to him building a $1.2 billion company, APR, that supplies power to third world countries and countries affected by natural disasters.
• He has now turned his attentions to philanthropy.
• An avid car collector, John has four Lancias that he brought from Ireland to his home in Florida. These cars each have a strong history and are rare in the states.
• He wanted to buy the Lancia that he saw Billy driving, but it was crashed four times and was beyond repair. He has however just bought, renovated and brought to America the exact same 1975 Stratos Lancia model that Billy had.
• He is delighted and honoured to be part of Team Ireland Foundation, which he hopes will help other kids to aspire to become motorsports champions while representing Ireland. He wants to support Team Ireland in the name of the man who inspired him to greatness.