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A. T. Airey "Sniffer" (Huntingdon, UK)

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Crashed and Byrned: The Greatest Racing Driver You Never Saw
Crashed and Byrned: The Greatest Racing Driver You Never Saw
by Tommy Byrne
Edition: Paperback

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hurricane Byrne!, 5 Sept. 2008
This is some journey!

Barely believable, 'Crashed and Byrned' somehow twists through the apposite worlds of grubby 1970's O'Connell street, the 1982 Las Vegas Grand Prix and a seedy mansion in drug addled Mexico. Why? Because Tommy Byrne was chasing his quest to make the motor racing world realise that he was the most naturally gifted racing driver of his generation (and that is no idle boast by the way). And what is more, this book does it in a kind of surreal innocence that would be quite at home in a Hunter S.Thompson yarn!

Tommy Byrne will generally only be known to racing people but his story is so unique that he and his adventures will be enjoyed by those who have never seen a motor race in their lives before. This story will surely become a classic alternative to the bland and colourless publications that modern sports stars often produce.

It wasn't so much that Tommy was anti establishment it was more like he created his own establishment and then whether it was his fault or not, trashed it in a bright haze of his own brilliance and confidence. This had an uncanny knack of rubbing people up the wrong way. Ron Dennis was one of these people, so was Ayrton Senna. Years before Eddie Irvine was getting a slap from the great Brazilian champion, another and more gifted urchin from the Emerald Isle was getting under Ayrton's skin! Put bluntly, if John Lydon and Phil Lynott had raised a bastard child that took up motor racing, then his name would have been Tommy Byrne.

The anecdotes are told in a fabulously honest and more often than not comic fashion. There is no self pity and no 'what ifs'. These are left to the reader, who by the end of it are likely to ask these questions quietly to themselves. His 'tell it, how he saw it' descriptions of situations and people are quite superb, brutally honest and tremendously funny. In these days of wretched PR sheen this book takes you back to an era when genius 'literally' stole. It's sports answer to 'The filth and the fury!'

Put together in a simple and effective way by Mark Hughes, who proves that he is as subtly adept at translating these unforgettable memories of racings greatest roguish lost talent' as he is of acutely detailing the weekly technical and strategic aspects of the current Grand Prix scene in Autosport magazine. Hughes also offers an oversight to Byrne's memories, dipping in to the likes of Gary Anderson and Ron Dennis himself, for a revisionist perspective twenty five years on from 'Hurricane Byrne.'!

Above all, it tells of an ambitious and talented young man who was fighting a desperate and constantly losing battle to be accepted by an elitist sport that even by the standards of the early 1980's found Tommy Byrne just too much of a risk. It cannot be recommended highly enough.

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