Former Formula 1 racer and British F3 champion Tommy Byrne will return to European racing at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next month.
Byrne, now 60, will race Irishman James Hagan’s Hesketh 308/1 in the pair of FIA Masters Historic Formula 1 races that will support the British Grand Prix on July 7/8.
Byrne graduated to Formula 1 in 1982 with Theodore Racing – the same season he won the British F3 title with the team – but he started just two of his five F1 races. He failed to finish in Austria and Las Vegas (after a spin in each race) and did not qualify in Austria, Dijon nor Monza.
A McLaren test followed but Byrne’s personality jarred with team boss Ron Dennis and his F1 dream was over almost as soon as it started. Now Byrne – subject of the 2016 TV documentary Crash and Burn – is making an F1 comeback, albeit in a support event.
“I haven’t even seen the car yet,” he said. “My friend James Hagan asked me to drive the Hesketh and I was happy to oblige. My last race at Silverstone was in 1984 when I drove the Anson-Alfa Romeo in the European F3 race, which was the penultimate time I drove in the UK. I raced in the 1986 Birmingham Superprix in an Eddie Jordan Racing March 86B.”
Byrne finished 15th in that aborted, weather-affected F3000 race. Now, with a book on his career and a documentary to supplement it, Byrne will make a return to Silverstone, a circuit with happy memories.
“I am really excited,” he added. “Silverstone has so many happy memories for me from my Formula Ford 1600 days, slipstreaming with Roberto Moreno, Rick Morris and Jim Walsh, to winning my best race in Formula 3 against Enrique Mansilla and Dave Scott.
“It is also where I tested the McLaren. I lived in Milton Keynes for two years and had lots of parties with Eddie Jordan and Murray Taylor and all the guys. They were fun days for sure!”
Byrne will take on a stellar historic grid, marking a return to the British Grand Prix support bill for the first time since 1982 when he won at Brands Hatch.