The The Irish Film Institute is Ireland’s national cultural institution for film. It provides audiences throughout Ireland with access to the finest independent, ... More is delighted to welcome director Seán Ó Cualáin and former F1 driver Tommy Byrne to participate in a Q&A following a screening of their new documentary Crash and Burn on Friday, December 2nd at 6.30 p.m.
Crash and Burn opens at the IFI on Friday, December 2nd shining a light on one of motor racing’s most charismatic talents, and a glittering career that was doomed before it ever began. For a fleeting moment in the early ‘80s, Tommy Byrne was the world’s greatest Formula 1 driver, a man who looked set to rival Senna and Schumacher with his fearless style and his record-breaking speeds.
Byrne was a cocky, aggressive driver from humble roots. He quickly rose to win a host of championships and set new records in time trials across the UK. During this period, he caught Ayrton Senna’s attention as a driver of serious potential. Byrne’s own F1 career was limited to a handful of races for the under-funded Theodore team and a test outing for McLaren that has become the stuff of legend. Securing the fastest time any McLaren had ever recorded at Silverstone, including the qualifying times set by former World Champion Niki Lauda and John Watson.
While Ayrton Senna was winning his first F1 race, Byrne’s career was already on a downward slope. His wild behaviour, including a series of drink and drug-fuelled escapades and an altercation with Senna himself, ultimately led to his exclusion from the club. Thirteen years into their respective careers as the two brightest future stars of Formula 1, Ayrton Senna was in his grave, deified like no other driver, with Byrne a down-on-his-luck labourer.
Now a driving coach based in Florida, Byrne has finally found contentment with his lot, but remains bitter about a career that was doomed before it even began.