Double British Formula Ford 1600 champion in 1980, British and European FF2000 champion a year later and British F3 title winner in 1982, his junior single-seater CV was unimprovable. A plum seat in Formula 1 beckoned, surely? Especially after displaying record-breaking pace in a McLaren test at Silverstone at the end of ’82.
That, though, is when things got complicated.
You’d struggle to invent much of the Tommy Byre story, but almost all the toe-curling, gut-wrenching details were compiled in a superb, award-winning biography, Crashed And Byrned, in 2008, and in a recent documentary. Mark Hughes’ excellent book has just been republished with extra chapters and pictures to complement the airing of the film.
On the subject of the documentary, made by Irishmen David Burke and Seán O’Cualain, we won’t spoil it by revealing any details, but strongly recommend – no, insist – that you tune into BBC Four at 9pm tonight to experience Crash and Burn. Reaction to the film has been a bit like that you get from a group of people discussing Marmite – ‘what a shame’, ‘he got stitched up’, ‘… brought it all on himself’ etc. – so do let us know what you think.