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Legend Series- Barry meets David Kennedy

Ireland has a rich history in sport, and for a small nation we have always punched above our weight on the world stage, quite literally in recent years, with the magnificent Katie Taylor showing her class becoming World Champion, along with her Olympic success. We have seen our soccer stars reach the top levels of the game, our cyclists, swimmers, rowers, athletes, jockeys, motorcyclists, rugby and hockey players all achieve top level success in their respective fields.

Our motor racing heritage is no different and our current young stars like Niall Murray, Kevin O’Hara, Jordan Dempsey, James Roe Jr. and current Young Racing driver of the year Charlie Eastwood are flying the Irish flag proudly all over the world with much success today. Again, our small nation is producing such talent in numbers as we have done for decades, but while they are following their own routes within the sport, those paths have been laid before them by their forefathers in motor racing.

The first of them was David Kennedy, who sadly never got to stay at the top level, as many believe his talent deserved. David paved the way for Irish drivers to make their way up through the ranks and into top level motor racing and this is something he still does to this day. It wasn’t just the racing classes he drove in that set the course for others to follow, it was how to get there and what you had to do to achieve it and even how to use the “Irish Charm” to full effect in doing so!

Hailing from Strandhill in Co. Sligo, David was born in 1953 to parents Peggy and Louis Kennedy and grew up in Dublin alongside bothers John, Cliff and Alan and sister Lorna. His life of travel began at a year old when the family moved to the UK for a year, before moving back to Sandyford in Dublin where he spent the rest of his childhood and teenage years. He also spent some time in Castlerea in Co. Roscommon, helping out in his grandfather’s pub while locals traded cattle in the street during market days. These are days he fondly remembers, an Ireland that we don’t see anymore. As with all car lovers, a Dinky toy collection formed an early interest and helped to fuel what was to become a life’s obsession.

“ I collected a fabulous collection of Alfa Romeos, Maseratis, ERAs, Cunninghams.  They were little copper/brass models with single metal axles, and I would line up thirty or forty of them. I would invite my mates round and we would race these through the hallway, kitchen, around my mother’s legs and out into the garden- annoying my brothers who were always studying.”

It wasn’t just these imaginary races with his pals that forged an interest in all things mechanical. Joining his model cars were Airfix planes that had to have the moving parts working correctly when fully assembled. This need to know how things went together in his early youth grew as he got older and would later help him as a driver in years to come. By understanding how a car was put together he could relay what it was doing on track and to make any necessary changes it needed when off it.

“I suppose in later years you understand why you do things and you get a sense that some people are driven by taste or sound but I think I was always affected by shape. The shape of a car or a shape of a plane had really affected me but I was always drawn to those things and no doubt touched a chord in me”

By this time David was a pupil in C.U.S. (Catholic University School) in Leeson Street in Dublin. Laughingly, he says “ I went to a school which nobody really heard of called C.U.S. or as it was affectionately known ‘Cut Up Sausages’ or ‘Criminal Underground Society’ or ‘Communist Upstairs. There were a million different names for it!”

While making his way home one day, his eye was caught by a copy of Motorsport News in a shop window which changed his direction in life completely.

“I can still see it to this day, it was a picture of an F3 race with 25 cars all going into Gerrards bend on the Mallory Park circuit with a bridge with “Shell” across it in the background. So I went in and bought it and studied it and looked at it and read it day after day, week after week, and thought that this is what I wanted to do.”

Whilst most of his fellow classmates went to the library for books to help them with their English or science exams, David only went in to study books on the former greats of motorsport- the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio, Mike Hawthorn and Tazio Nuvolari.

I had an idea that only a fool learns by experience. Learn by other people’s experiences as it saves a lot of time! It’s like a free lesson and I learned so much from reading those books on both a technological and a physical programme of how they would engage whatever skills they had to be successful. These were clearly very successful people; the likes of Fangio, Hawthorn, Hailwood and Nuvolari. Just as now the likes of the Tommy Byrne book [Crashed and Byrned: The Greatest Racing Driver You Never Saw] is highly educational as it teaches you the things that you shouldn’t do! I give it to all my drivers and say to them ‘Here, read this, this is what you shouldn’t do!’”

That was the end of his school years as far as he was concerned. It was just a matter of finding a race car, a way to transport it and the financial means to do it all. By the mid-1970s, the dream slowly became a reality when a Lotus 51 Formula Ford was purchased to compete in the Irish Formula Ford Championship which, at that time, was dominated by people like Malcom Templeton, Jay Pollock, Paul Eastwood and Harry Acheson. It may have been a Lotus but it was already way out of date with bushings on its wishbones instead of rose joints that the more modern cars he was about to compete against had….

“When I arrived I really hadn’t a bloody clue mechanically what to do with a car but my good friend Tommy Goodwin put me in touch with a young guy that worked as a mechanic in a garage in Dundrum in Dublin who was around our age and reckoned he could help and that he had a road car!! I hadn’t even a road car! My thinking and sole focus was getting the race car and then all the other bits would fit into place after.”

That guy who worked in the garage turned out to be Derek Daly who, of course, would later make his way to Formula One himself! For now, though, he was David’s only way of making it to his first race. The fact that he had a car to help but not a trailer was only a slight problem as the tow rope in the boot would cure it! So the intrepid duo set off from Sandyford in Dublin for Mondello Park in County Kildare, one behind the wheel of a Ford Anglia and the other behind the wheel of a Lotus 51 at the end of a tow rope. Bear in mind this was pre M50 and M7 motorway days!

Laughing, David takes up the story; “ He would tow me down to Mondello with a rope and that rope would break and end up getting shorter and shorter and consequently I developed the fastest reactions any racing driver would ever have had otherwise my face would have looked like the back of the Anglia!”

They made it to Mondello Park and competed in the day’s races without success but it only added fuel to the fire for David. He began to gather support from Derek’s friend and fellow garageman Larry Byrne and the Lotus was upgraded to a Merlin 11A, and thus began the climb from the back of the grid towards the front.

He also began getting a reputation as a bit wild but in his mind he was the best driver in the world so it didn’t bother him, until an accident coming out of the Esses in Mondello where he hurt his back and damaged the car quite badly.

“That was major blow when I was working three jobs, one of which was at night in Jacob’s Factory on Bishop Street in Dublin. Then I would go out and do a window cleaning round during the day even though I hadn’t even got a ladder!”

A smile appears on his face he thinks back to his window cleaning round days as he then laughingly admits “there were lots of new houses with new housewives in them at the time so I ended up cleaning more than windows!”

Another sponsor became an employer as Brian Dennis of Dennis Motors gave him a job in car sales which he loved as he got to deliver the new cars to their new owners which, of course, gave him plenty of opportunity to hone his driving skills. This was all going great until he overtook his boss’s wife on one of his deliveries, earning himself his marching orders on the spot!

Despite this setback, he got more streetwise and when Derek Daly started racing in his old Lotus 51 they decided to put their heads together to make some money to afford their increasingly expensive motor racing habit. Their plan was to go into the petrol sales business during the petrol strike era- albeit without pumps and a forecourt…

“I would go up north and buy petrol and put it into a huge oil container. Then I would go to Dundrum car park in Dublin (where the shopping centre is now) with Derek and sell it from the back of the car. The only problem was that I had to siphon it out of the tank, so I got blinded every night! All was going well for about three weeks until the police turned up. I thought it was game over but I managed to sell some to them, too!”

While making good money from selling illegal petrol it still wasn’t enough for the upcoming 1975 season. If they wanted money, they needed to get out of Ireland. So after some research it was either going to be the iron ore mines in Australia or the oil rigs in Alaska in North America. The problem was both wanted to go to different countries so a coin was tossed and Australia won. It was a 24-hour journey which would take them behind the Iron Curtain on their way. After missing their outward flight due to not being able to read a 24-hour clock (!), they eventually got to London.

“We made it to the check in gate where the stewardess asked Derek for his passport, to which he replied: ‘It’s in my suitcase!’ ‘You cannot fly’ she replied. “After much pleading from Derek, I was getting tired at this stage. I said ‘we’ll find it as it’s a very distinctive case. We’ll find it easily.’ We managed to get into the cargo hold and found the suitcase and the passport and made our way to Australia.”

It proved to be a wise choice, as the money they made out there during the winter paid for their racing the following year.

“The money was fantastic- I could have bought a street in Dublin at the time for what I came back with. I regret I didn’t now!”

By this time, David was at the sharp end dicing with Jay Pollock and Bernard Devaney in his rebuilt Merlin 11A. Every weekend they would be swapping wins and podiums at every track they visited, much to the pleasure of circuit commentator, the late Robin Rhodes, when he was once heard saying during one of these epic battles “Devaney is on the outside and Roe is on the inside- somebody hand me my spare heart!” It was also a time where motor racing was quite a new sport in Ireland, so large crowds attended the meetings which gave great exposure to drivers’ sponsors.  Oh, how those crowds are needed back at races today.

These battles went on for another couple of years but during a round at Mondello Park in April 1975 the stewards decided David had been driving a bit too forcefully for their liking while leading Bernard Devaney and gave him a black flag, much to his annoyance. After coming into the pits to protest his innocence and plead his case the red mist descended and Clerk of the Course, the well-known BMW importer Frank Keane, had to move quickly to avoid being sprayed with stones as David drove past him. Due to this, his entry was blocked for the upcoming prestigious Phoenix Park Motor Races.

“To my rescue came a young businessman called John Hynes of Group Waterworks, who said that he would get an injunction against the R.I.A.C. Motorsport and get me a better car as well. So I found myself in the epicentre of the Phoenix Park Motor Races potentially being cancelled!”

It all blew over after David made an apology to the powers that be and his entry was reinstated. He took to his new Crossle 30F like a duck to water and went on to win his heat but the clutch went during the main race. He now knew, however, that he had a car capable of winning regularly. His sights were then set on the main Formula Ford race of the year, the Formula Ford Festival, which was held at Snetterton that year. Without any testing, he won his heat (which also happened to be his first ever race in the UK.) He was confident of going on to win again but sadly a holed radiator cooked his engine and that was that. But he impressed the onlookers there that year, as well as his sponsor who he persuaded to fork out for a bus he could use to travel in while competing in the 1976 British Formula Ford Championship.

This was a considerable step up from the tow rope but far from a luxurious purpose-built race transporter that you would see today. In truth, this resurrected 1951 petrol engined Bedford ex-army troop carrier, which had at one point housed a farmer’s chickens, was to be the mode of transport to each track that year for David and his then girlfriend ( later his wife) Fiona.

“We lived on the bus to save money and pulled in at the side of the road to sleep where we were often

David proudly poses with his new Crossle 30F and “ex Liz Taylor” Bus!

stopped by the police as we were I guess considered to be some sort of itinerants at the time!” he says laughingly “ The amazing thing about the bus though, is that it had in the middle of the body, a very early type of changing room which was once used by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton while filming Cleopatra!”

Rough looking or not, David by this time had gathered enough knowledge of running a car by himself and the red-haired Dubliner went on to have a brilliant season winning both the Townsend Thoresen and R.A.C. Formula Ford Championships in the UK. In doing so, he became the first Irishman to win a national single-seater series in Britain.

Also, having started late in the European Formula Ford championship – the unexpected offer of sponsorship from owner of a Dutch sex club kept him on the road when the big Bedford bus failed on the way to Zandvoort – he still managed to finish second in the series by the end of the year.

“I had no idea what was written on the car at the time, but the Dutch stayed clear of me for quite a while!”

The Crossle 30F proved its worth. John Crosslé supported his efforts with much needed spares and the engine rebuilds were taken care of by Dave Minister. The great backing from Dunlop Ireland and John Hynes of Group Waterworks meant the season costs were a lot smaller than going it alone. The year’s finale was approaching but a bad accident at the second last race of the year looked like it would put an end to what had been a great title challenge.

“I hobbled out of hospital with a very sore back, luckily it wasn’t broken as first feared but it was severely bruised or sprained as I still hadn’t full feeling in my legs.”

David’s girlfriend Fiona got the job to drive the bus back to the Northern Ireland where Crosslé got it repaired in time for the final race of the season at Brands Hatch.

“I had to be lifted into the car and all I had to do was finish in sixth position to win the R.A.C. championship. I did that and (newly crowned F1 world champion) James Hunt presented the trophy and as he did, he said, “Young man you look a bit dishevelled, you must go to my tailor and get yourself kitted out!” I had been wearing Stuart Cosgrave’s old race suit, an old two piece suit that nobody wore anymore by that time but it was all that I had.

“The funny twist was that many years later after I started Grand Prix Racewear, he came in looking for a helmet. I wasn’t there at the time but Fiona called me to say that James Hunt was here and wants a helmet and what should she do? Should she charge him or not? I said ‘charge him double!’ Ah no, I didn’t, I gave it to him for free. I may be a bastard but I’m not a bollocks!!

For 1977, Formula 3 was going to be a lot harder and a steep learning curve with the addition of slick tyres and aerodynamic wings on the car. He had also had enough of racing only in England. His European Formula Ford outings had given him the appetite to return to that stage. Sandro Angeleri of AFMP ran the ‘works’ March F3 team offered him a drive for the season albeit the deal was done very late, which left very little time for testing and getting used to an F3 car.

The step up in class was not the only change to get used to the competition also went up another level as David would now be lining up on the grid with the likes of future world champions Alain Prost and Nelson Piquet and future F1 drivers like Elio De Angelis and Stefan Johansson.

“The deal was done very late and left very little time to get used to the aerodynamics of an F3 car and the budget wasn’t really there. Also, facing superstars like Prost and Piquet was going to be a challenge as they were well backed at the time. I hadn’t yet won but I was beginning to be right up at the sharp end when the team owner Sandro Angeleri was caught handling drugs and completely scuppered the programme. He made off with money and ended up in jail!

Having to pick up the pieces, David made his way to Italy and ended the 1977 season in Gary Anderson’s works Argo JM1-Toyota, finishing second in the European Championship races at Kassel-Calden and Járama.. So the pale faced, red haired Irishman had to adapt to life surrounded by his dark haired tanned Italian counterparts, as well as trying to learn some of their native tongue. Despite this, he stayed with Argo for 1978, led a couple of rounds, and finished second in the Monza Lottery (the equivalent to the Formula Ford Festival for F3 cars), having led for much of the race. By the end of the year, the results started to come and placed him sixth in the championship standings- which wasn’t bad after what happened with his original team and missing some rounds because of it.

“I found myself in the middle of Italy, in an Italian team with an Italian team-mate who was the star of the championship and not being able to speak a word of Italian! It was a very difficult environment to be in and to try and push yourself to the top. They don’t teach you these kind of things in Castlerea!!”

A conversation with Sidney Taylor gave him an opportunity to race in the last British F1 championship round at Snetterton- if he could get the funds to do it. He managed to do that, and drove the Wolf WR3 car to pole in qualifying and to victory in the race. This led into doing the Formula 5000 series in Australia which was for F1 cars and Formula 5000 cars where he met Teddy Yip of Theodore Racing.

For 1979 the chance to drive the WOLF WR3 car again in the Aurora British F1 championship was too much to turn down. He backed this up with victory in the Gold Cup in Oulton Park. Another victory in Mallory Park put him in good stead to win the championship, but a coming together with Rupert Keegan ended his hopes.

He did finish runner up, but it was a case of loosing out on another British Championship. Wolf were impressed with his performances that year in the year old ex-Keke Rosberg car. By 1980 though, his career was looking to be over until a drive with Shadow came his way. The problem was that the team had no money and the car was poor, but he had no choice but to make the best of what he had.

“I thought that was it, but I made a tremendous connection with Shadow Cars who were on the slide but I managed to get Teddy Yipp from my F3 days involved so it became Shadow Theodore Racing and along with some sponsors who got me an F1 race in Argentina with my old sparring partner Stefan Johansson. As my team-mate. I even got a fax from Taoiseach Jack Lynch wishing me good luck for Ireland! It was amazing to think only a couple of years before myself and Derek Daly sat in Dundrum carpark tossing a coin to decide weather to go to Alaska or Australia, and now we were both on the grid together in an F1 race!”

The car was terrible and didn’t give David the chance to really have an opportunity to prove himself and despite his best efforts he failed to qualify for the most races that year, which was bitterly disappointing for him.

“The car was so bad that when we went to Long Beach, California for the US Grand Prix Geoff Lees walked away from it, what kind of driver walks away from an F1 car? But it was that bad and it was stupid to stay in it.”

David had no other choice to stick with the car as there were no other options, as no other teams had spaces- and  especially if a driver couldn’t bring capital with him.

This was still in the era where safety was nowhere near like it is today, especially circuit safety.

“I remember going to Argentina where there was the very fast right hand corner similar to the old first corner in Brazil before the Senna ‘S’ was put in. It was after a long straight probably about a 185 mph corner, where they had big old water tankers parked on the inside barrier. I was determined to get this corner flat as I knew if I did I would qualify, but when I tried it the car’s chassis could not cope, it twisted causing me to spin off towards the inside barrier. I was a passenger and just put my head down and waited for the impact, there’s not many times in your life when you think this is really it, you’re dead, and this was one of them. The impact did come but once it stopped, I looked around and realised I was ok. Then I noticed the tankers were not there and it turned out they had been moved between the practice session in the morning and the qualifying in the afternoon so somebody was looking down on me that day.”

The team went back to Snetterton to test the car and try and cure some of the problems they had been experiencing. It was during this test David was to have another big one after the rear suspension broke before the right hand bend Sears. By just missing the sleepers that were at the edge of the track, he ended up in the adjacent potato field. Another one of his nine lives gone!

“I ended up in this potato field and I thought ‘Oh great, this is just perfect I can see my epitaph now, Irishman dies in a field of potatoes, he led a great life but the potatoes killed him in the end!”

These two accidents brought home to him that driving this car or a car like, it was probably going to kill him. Soon after that the team folded and that was the end of his Formula 1 career. He did, however, return to the Phoenix Park in 1987 and famously defeated a star studded Formula Atlantic field to win the big race of the weekend, in front of the TV cameras:

The opportunity then came along to race in America in the Can-Am Series. This again, was another first for Irish drivers and another path laid for drivers to take in years to come. He went to look at an Indycar race but he felt that walls were too close and that it wasn’t for him. Again, another path to be laid was a route into sportscar racing. At the time, all the manufacturers wanted to get their name involved in this ever growing form of motorsport. As its popularity grew, it gave drivers who could not get a drive in F1, or retain their seat anymore, a chance to extend their careers.

Sportscars again brought another change to his career, but maybe even more so this time. Having always raced single seaters, this time it wasn’t just a matter of getting used to slicks and wings, it was a completely different type of machine that he was about to compete in. With top manufacturers increasingly raising their budgets to develop these cars, David got into it just at the right time. The cars had become so developed that they weren’t much different from being like a single seater. After a couple of national races in the UK, an opportunity to join Mazda with Alan Docking in a test led into David becoming their lead European driver. Using lessons learned from his F1 days, he made sure he had the people around him that he wanted working on the car and that they knew what they were doing.

“You wouldn’t believe the miscommunication between drivers and engineers from different nations. A driver from Europe might say that he wants to lengthen the chassis, but the engineer who wasn’t European would interpret that as widening the chassis due to where he was from, it could cost you valuable track time.”

This was laid out to Mazda boss Takayoshi Ohashi, and Kio the engineer David wanted had trained in Europe, so would know all the terminology that drivers used on setting up their cars. The next step was to get a designer, this was to be Nigel Stroud who had designed the Cannon sponsored 956 Porsche, which had a kevlar monocoque (derived from an Porsche designed aluminium monocoque). David had started to become more than the driver in the team; he became a team principal or manager, if you like as he began organising the team foundations at the time. Stefan Johansson, Volker Weidler, Maurizio Sandro Sala, Bertrand Gachot and Johnny Herbert were also brought in as part of the driver lineup. With the newly designed 787B Mazda, took the overall team victory in the 1991 Le Mans 24hour race. Weidler, Herbert and Gachot took the overall win while David, Johansson and Sala took a creditable sixth place.

David moved to Japan as he competed in the Japanese Sportcar Championship as well as Le Mans in the early 1990s. This culture change, from where he came from and lived before was big as any change he had to get used to behind the wheel.

“I had never seen people eating live crab, fish that was poisonous if cooked wrong and all sorts of other unusual ways of life. Myself and my wife Fiona were invited to eat with all the top brass from Mazda one evening, where they would cook the meal in front of you. The chef threw this fish on the large pan and Fiona jumped up screaming at the sight of this in front of everybody! I thought that’s it my career is over, I’m done, but all the Mazda people fell around laughing as Fiona had screamed and not me, if it had of been the other way round it would not be as welcome. That is the way the Japanese work- and it’s another thing they don’t teach you in Castlerea!”

Another interesting thing happened to David while there and all thanks to his wife Fiona, “We were on a train with some of the top Mazda people when Japan came up in conversation. Fiona began to tell the Mazda people that she knew the Japanese national anthem! Now the anthem is in old Japanese not what they speak now, a bit like old Gaelic over here. Fiona stood up and sang it in front of them, as I looked on in shock. They were so impressed they handed me a contract to drive for them! Afterwards I asked Fiona where did she learn that ? ‘Oh I learned it in school from the nuns years ago’ she replied!

While he enjoyed his time in Japan and in sportscars, it was the mid nineties and times were changing for David. He began to manage the new up and coming race drivers more and more. He had been racing cars for over twenty years by this time and he decided to retire. Now when most drivers call it a day they tend to cut down heavily on travel, attending races etc but if anything David was only increasing his travel and commitments. He took over driver management of Ralph Firman, Richard Lyons and Damien Faulkner over the next few years. Always a man for an opportunity, he setup an event exhibition company and through this he was able to gather a lot of the agencies for racing equipment and setup the racewear clothing firm Grand Prix Racewear. One exhibition that he setup in Japan brought in 120,000 people alone, as he managed to get all the top Japanese drivers to appear at it as well as Mika Hakkinen who was the new Lotus F1 driver at the time. This yielded him a very good payday. Whilst now in the midst of these businesses he introduced Mondello Park to Martin Birrane and he and some others bought it, as it was on its knees and was close to being closed for good.

If that wasn’t enough, a call came from Michael O’Carroll from RTE who told him that the national broadcaster had the gained the rights to show the 1995 Grand Prix season live. Having done some commentary in years before, David wasn’t totally blind to it.

“ Michael was great with the countries’ media organisers. No matter where the Grand Prix we were commentating on was on, he always gathered a small gift in the airport on his way out, like a small selections of Irish whiskeys etc. The power went out just before the start of the Argentinian Grand Prix, but because Michael had gave the media organiser a gift of the whiskey when he met him on the first a day or so beforehand, we were the first to get power back to our booth ahead of BCC, ESPN etc!”

It all seemed to be going well in the new role as a co-comentator until they got to Imola for the Italian Grand Prix. He was given instruction to explain to the viewers that this is the first time Formula 1 had been back to the track that took the life of  the great Ayrton Senna the year before.

“I wasn’t fully prepared to give this information out the way I wanted to at that particular moment in the race as Damon Hill had just taken the lead and Michael Schumacher had spun off. I managed to get everything mixed up and I blurted out ‘And Graham Hill has just taken the lead and Senna has just crashed!’ I was about to throw the microphone out the window, I made a complete mess of it! When I made my way through the Airport in Dublin the next day, the customs offical said to me ‘I see Senna crashed out of the Grand Prix!’ and when I stopped at the bank, the branch manager said to me ‘ah David great to see you, I didn’t know you could raise the dead!?’ The piss was taken out of me for a while after that!”

With a varied career of cars and tracks raced at, out of all the drivers he competed against, David rates Alain Prost and Nelson Piquet top the list of toughest opponents- with Prost edging it between the two, due to being extremely clever and calculated behind the wheel, other than his sheer speed. Out of all the tracks the old Nurburgring tops the lot in terms of a tracks he raced at. David once set off on foot at 9 am one morning to learn the track and make notes. By 11am, he made it to the first corner due to the detailed notes he had made so far- and that was just the straight!

If an event could be brought back, the Phoenix Park Motor Races would be it, which seems to be a common theme by most people when asked. It’s a tie between the Crossle 32F and the Mazda 787B (below) which both brought him great success as his favourite car he raced. His Le Mans and A1 GP World Cup victories with team Ireland rank the highest of his career successes.

So what of his views on Irish motor racing today compared to when he started out and what can be done to improve it ?

“ It would appear to be the lack of drivers that keenly, desperately and urgently want to go on and be World Champions. In the old Formula Ford days you could go down the grid and half of it would be like that and you just don’t see that nowadays. Also I have seen in my time that when a country has someone successful in something at a high level they get behind it ,like the Irish hockey team last year, how many people were behind them before that? We haven’t got an Irish F1 team or an Irish F1 driver at the moment and to get those you need to have a good grass roots structure in place, which we also don’t have at the moment. The other thing is the expense of it all and there are a lot more things going on now. It is not just a case of getting a race car and going racing, it’s about engaging with people from all levels and putting yourself out there and marketing yourself and putting a structure in place for each level you want to compete in. The budgets are very disproportionately expensive which doesn’t help- to do a year in Formula 4 is half a million, F3 costs a million and Formula 2 is two million. Nobody in Ireland is going to sponsor somebody that kind of money, as they cant be guaranteed to get their investment back.”

Even though his professional driving career has long since finished, he still gets the itch to drive a car fast round a track from time to time and even formed a team with Tommy Byrne, Kevin McGarrity and Niall McFadden to do the Fiesta Endurance race at Mondello Park at the end of last year.

It certainly has been a hugely varied rollercoaster style life that David has had so far and one from which we all could learn a thing or two, as he has come a long way from the petrol smuggling youngster to the mature affable businessman that he is today. I can only imagine what the likes of himself, Tommy Byrne, Michael Roe, Derek Daly, Eddie Jordan and the others really got up to in those pre PC days and maybe we will hear those stories in time but I’m glad I got a few from this gentleman.

Barry Cregg







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