Honda website
Honda website

People

David Kennedy

Most people in Formula 1 racing have only one job but chatty red-headed Irishman David Kennedy has several. At every Grand Prix he commentates for RTE, Ireland's national television company and writes for the country's big-selling Sunday Tribune newspaper. Away from the races, Kennedy is a classic racing wheeler-dealer. Back in the 1980s he ran a successful racewear business and established racing car shows in Britain and Japan.

Today he is a director of the Mondello Park racing circuit in Ireland and managing-director of Lola Driver Management, a subsidiary of racing car builder Lola Cars International. Kennedy's different jobs are not as unrelated as it might seem as Lola boss Martin Birrane owns not only Mondello but also the Sunday Tribune.

To race fans around the world Kennedy is better known as a driver who enjoyed considerable success in the 1970s. From County Sligo in the remote north of the country Kennedy started racing in Formula Ford 1600 when he was 19. Three years later he won the Irish title and the following year went to Britain where in 1976 he won two British national FF1600 titles and finished runner-up in the European title.

This success helped him leapfrog into the European Formula 3 series with the March factory team. He had a few good placings in races but money was a problem and eventually he switched to the lesser-known Argo factory team. That year he twice finished second to Nelson Piquet in European Formula 3 races. Hoping to capitalise on that success he stayed with Argo in 1978 but the car was not as competitive and he finished only sixth in the European Championship. In an effort to keep his career going he moved into the British Formula 1 series, driving a Wolf WR4 for the Theodore team. The following year, with support from Theodore's Teddy Yip, Kennedy moved into F1 with the fading Shadow team. It proved to be a bad move as the team was in the process of falling apart and he failed to qualify at seven races before the team folded up. He did qualify in Spain and raced but the event was later declared to be a non-championship race and so the records books show that Kennedy was never actually a Grand Prix driver.

After the Shadow debacle, David's career was in the doldrums for a couple of years, during which he raced in touring cars and CanAm but then in 1983 he was hired by the Mazda factory sportscar team. For the next eight years he was a Mazda regular, winning his class three times in the classic Le Mans 24 Hours.