Or, to give it it?óÔé¼Ôäós full title: ?óÔé¼?ôCrashed and Byrned: The greatest racing driver you never saw?óÔé¼?Ø. The blurb on the back hails Tommy Byrne as ?óÔé¼?ôthe only racing driver the great Ayrton Senna really feared.?óÔé¼?Ø
Even if you know Byrne?óÔé¼Ôäós career you might not agree with the claim, but I?óÔé¼Ôäód be amazed if you didn?óÔé¼Ôäót enjoy this book.
After the first dozen pages you?óÔé¼Ôäód be forgiven for thinking you?óÔé¼Ôäód picked up a copy of ?óÔé¼?ØTrainspotting?óÔé¼?Ø by mistake. I can?óÔé¼Ôäót think of any other books about motor racing that had as many references to loss of bowel control by page 20.
The narrative feels like it?óÔé¼Ôäós coming straight from Byrne?óÔé¼Ôäós mouth, which of course is as it should be. Co-writer Mark Hughes (long-time F1 scribe, Autosport contributor, and author of several other F1 books) wisely steps back for the most part and brings Byrne?óÔé¼Ôäós story to the printed page with little interruption.
The book is rich with amusing and entertaining stories from Byrne?óÔé¼Ôäós rise through the junior categories of motor racing in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He had an utterly unlikely background for a racing driver, hailing from Dundalk in Ireland, with little money by anyone?óÔé¼Ôäós standards, never mind those of someone who wants to race cars for a living.
Without wishing to spoil too much of the story for those who aren?óÔé¼Ôäót familiar with Byrne?óÔé¼Ôäós career, it will come as no surprise to learn that he didn?óÔé¼Ôäót make it to the top, although he did make a few F1 starts for Theodore. But his experiences after F1 were just as incredible as those he had while starting out in Dundalk.
After a stint racing in America for a millionaire manic depressive who was convinced he was going to become president (no, I?óÔé¼Ôäóm not making this up), Byrne moved on to Mexico. Having developed a drug habit, he wound up racing F3 cars for a gun-crazed alcoholic who celebrated Byrne?óÔé¼Ôäós victories by arranging orgies?óÔé¼?ª
You get the idea. It?óÔé¼Ôäós a remarkable, colourful, at times scarcely believable tale which unravels at a breakneck pace.My only complaint is that the racing side of his escapades are pushed to one side in places, and it?óÔé¼Ôäós hard to get a grip on exactly what made his such a remarkable driver. The book runs to a mere 200 pages and I?óÔé¼Ôäód happily have read a hundred more filling the details of some of his starts and finishes.
It?óÔé¼Ôäós also ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ and this is something I?óÔé¼Ôäóve never thought a book was lacking before ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ crying out for a section in the middle with a few photographs so you can put faces to names.
If you want to find out more about Tommy Byrne, have a look at this thread in the Autosport Nostalgia Forum. And of course, you must buy this book.
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Tommy Byrne with Mark Hughes
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