For a brief and seemingly incredible moment in the 1980s, Irishman Tommy Byrne was arguably considered among the world’s greatest racing drivers, but he was sadly never afforded the opportunity to showcase his skills.
Tommy’s foray into F1 was very much ‘flash in the pan’ – he made a meteoric rise through the lower formulae and joined the little Theodore team in 1982, but the project dramatically failed to gel. Despite impressing all with a superb test session with McLaren – part of a prize for winning the Formula 3 crown – any hopes of a future in F1 failed to get off the ground.
Now I’ve come across plenty of examples of drivers who may have laid claim to being the best but never having the opportunity to show it, but upon reading Tommy’s autobiography, I’m definitely of the opinion that he was one of the few whose stars could really have shone.
Co-written with Mark Hughes, this book channels the story of his unlikely escape from his poverty-stricken upbringing in Ireland, his rapid rise to Formula 1, his all-too-brief stay there, and his rapid decline back to obscurity.
It’s no fairytale, by any means. There are some stories he told and some characters he described that had me completely shocked. It is raw and painful to read about what he went through, but his writing – which is incredibly conversational and informal – has an honesty and a humour that is truly engaging.
Inasmuch as he was shafted by a lot of people along the way, Tommy also acknowledges his own failings and where he contributed to his poor outcomes. Such a self-awareness is rare in a professional sportsperson, and it is a quality that shines in this book.
I’m truly delighted to have found and read this book.
Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award Crashed and Byrned…
OUT OF A POSSIBLE 5.
Crashed and Byrned: The Greatest Racing Driver You Never Saw is available at Amazon.com.