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'No one could quite understand him' - The story of the Irish maverick on the brink of '80s F1 glory

A documentary on the life of Tommy Byrne is showing on RTÉ One tonight.

Updated at 16.40

Dot Television / YouTube

AN ACCLAIMED DOCUMENTARY on the life of Tommy Byrne is showing at 10.15pm on RTÉ One tonight.

The maverick racing driver from Louth was tipped for big things in the world of Formula One during the early 1980s, but never quite made the breakthrough in the sport that many expected.

Yet despite never fulfilling his potential, Byrne’s talent was clear. “Forget Schuey and Senna. Tommy Byrne was the best of them all,” Eddie Jordan, the Irish former motorsport team boss, has said.

Crash and Burn explores Byrne’s life from his tough upbringing and consequent struggles to gain acceptance within the Formula One community to the wild lifestyle that ultimately contributed to his downfall in the sport and struggle to adjust thereafter.

“Very few people get to make it,” Byrne told The42 last December. “I’m sure if I had a different personality, if I came across not as cocky, maybe possibly I could have gotten something with McLaren. But that wasn’t the way I was.

I got to where I got to… I had a lot of friends. Lots and lots of friends. And again as I keep saying, you don’t get to where you got with no money without having friends.

The documentary saw a limited cinema release at the end of last year and received positive reviews by critics, with Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian writing:

There’s a fascination and poignancy to this gripping sports documentary, about someone who deserves a kind of legendary status for the way he didn’t become a legend.”

Dot Television / YouTube

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