Driver's rise and fall wins top sports book award

The story of an Irish Formula One driver whose life careered off the track after he shared the pits with some of motor racing’s greatest names was today unveiled as the best sports book of the year.

The story of an Irish Formula One driver whose life careered off the track after he shared the pits with some of motor racing’s greatest names was today unveiled as the best sports book of the year.

Crashed and Byrned by Tommy Byrne follows the Dundalk man’s poverty-stricken childhood to becoming the only racing driver that Ayrton Senna ever feared and how it all went wrong when he was so close to the top of world motorsport.

Byrne debuted as a Formula One driver in August 8 1982 – and participated in five grands prix before he gave it up.

Crashed and Byrned goes into every harrowing detail of his fame in motorsport, his drug problems, driving for a billionaire crackpot and working for gun-toting Mexicans in the 1990’s.

His tale is said to be one of the great untold stories and depicts his tough battle to the top and his spectacular fall from grace when – for a brief period - he was arguably the world’s greatest driver.

The book – by ghostwriter Mark Hughes – was awarded the William Hill Irish Sports Book of the Year for 2008 at a presentation in Dublin.

William Hill’s Tony Kenny said: “This is a fantastic story from start to finish and is one of the best sports books you will read.

“The judging panel felt the book displayed a level of honesty that many books fail to reach and it was a story which everyone with an interest in sport and further afield deserves to hear.

“To win when up against such a strong shortlist will show everyone how good the book is.”

Eleven of Ireland’s best sports commentators and experts, including George Hook, Matt Cooper and Adrian Logan, chose Byrne’s life story despite stiff competition from a range of sporting heroes who made the six-book shortlist.

They included the life stories of Ronan O’Gara, Sonia O’Sullivan, Keith Duggan’s story from behind the doors of Mayo football, House of Pain, and two horse racing books on Mouse Morris and Mick Fitzgerald.

Crashed and Byrned was also the public’s favourite book topping the poll on the Irishsportsbookoftheyear.com website.

Journalist Mark Hughes, who wrote the book with Byrne, said was delighted be a part of Byrne’s remarkable story.

“It may not be the award Tommy was figuring on back in the day, when he was giving Ayrton Senna plenty to worry about on the race track, but it means a lot to both of us and I’m particularly pleased that it will play its part in ensuring this guy and his extraordinary story doesn’t get forgotten,” added Mark.

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