20 Professional Best Ireland Auto Racing Players in History

Rob Bunker

As one of the most popular sports in Ireland, auto racing has produced some of the best drivers in the world. From Formula 1 to Rally Cross to Touring Car Racing, Ireland has an incredibly rich history of auto racing champions.

From the legendary racing drivers of the past to the current generation of elite competitors, Ireland has always been a major player in the sport.

This article will provide an overview of some of the best auto racing players in Ireland, and highlight some of their greatest achievements.

1. Niall Gunn

Niall Gunn is an Irish racecar driver with a professional racing career that has spanned many years. Born in Cork, Ireland, he has been involved in the sport of Motorsport since a very young age.

Gunn specializes in drifting, a technique of driving cars in which the driver intentionally oversteers, causing the rear wheels to break traction and slide out from behind the car.

This type of driving often results in spectacular visual effects, as the car slides sideways around corners, and has become increasingly popular in recent years. Gunn has been actively involved in the sport since the early days, and his skill and expertise has seen him become a respected figure in the world of Motorsport.

He has competed in a number of high-profile events, including European and World Championships, and has been involved in the development of various cars and racing technologies.

He has also been involved in numerous promotional events, showcasing his talent and demonstrating the thrills of drifting to a wider audience.

Gunn’s passion for the sport of Motorsport is evident in his dedication to the sport, and his commitment to perfecting the art of drifting. With a career spanning many years, Gunn has truly made his mark in the world of Motorsport.

2. Tommy Byrne

Thomas Byrne was an Irish racing driver who had a brief involvement in Formula One. He took part in two Grands Prix in 1982, representing the Theodore team which was seen as a backmarker at the time.

Unfortunately, his qualifying attempts for three other Grands Prix did not prove successful. Out of the two Grands Prix in which he actually competed, he failed to finish either race. As a result, he was never able to acquire any points in the championship.

Thomas Byrne’s career in Formula One was ultimately short-lived, and his lack of success may be attributed to the fact that he was driving for a backmarker team.

Despite this, he will still be remembered by many as a brave driver who gave it his all each time he took to the track.

3. David Kennedy

David Paul Kennedy was a groundbreaking figure in the world of international motorsports. He was from the Republic of Ireland and is widely seen as having helped to pave the way for other Irish drivers who wanted to compete on the world stage.

Kennedy was one of the first drivers from Ireland to participate in a Grand Prix, and his success and popularity inspired others to follow in his footsteps.

His accomplishments in the sport helped to establish Ireland as a major player in international motorsports, and his influence on the sport is still felt today.

Kennedy’s legacy will always be remembered as a pioneer in the world of motorsports, and his contribution to the sport will never be forgotten.

4. Joe Kelly

Joseph Michael Kelly was a prominent figure in the world of motorsport during the 1950s. Born in Ireland, he was an experienced and successful racing driver. He competed in multiple events around Europe and was particularly successful in the British Grand Prix.

He entered the 1950 and 1951 British Grand Prix, and while he never won the race, he was highly regarded among his peers for his skill behind the wheel. Kelly was not only a racing driver, however, but also a successful businessman.

He had a keen eye for business opportunities and used his success in motorsport to invest in various other ventures. His investments saw him become one of the most prominent businessmen in Ireland at the time.

Kelly was a respected figure in the world of motorsport, and his contributions to the sport were remembered long after his death. He was an inspirational figure to generations of drivers who followed him, and his legacy lives on in the racing world.

5. Derek Daly

Derek Patrick Daly is an Irish former racing driver who is best known for winning the 1977 British Formula 3 Championship. During his professional racing career, which spanned 17 years, he competed in 64 World Championship Formula One Grands Prix.

His professional racing career began on 2 April 1978. Daly was a successful driver in the sport. In the 1977 British Formula 3 Championship, he earned the title of champion. He also had a successful career competing in the Formula One Grands Prix.

From 1978 to 1994, Daly was a regular competitor in this prestigious event, participating in 64 of them. Daly’s impact on the racing world extended beyond his own personal successes.

He has been credited with helping to launch the careers of many of the sport’s most successful drivers, including Michael Schumacher and Mika Häkkinen. Despite his success as a driver, Daly eventually retired from professional racing in 1994.

He is now a racing commentator and analyst and is still a major player in the racing world.

6. Ralph Firman


Ralph David Firman Jr. is a British-born racing driver who had the unique opportunity to race under the Irish citizenship and a racing licence issued by the Irish government.

This is due to Firman’s success in earlier part of his career, which was based on racing under a British licence. It was this success which enabled him to gain the rare opportunity to race under the Irish citizenship and licence.

This distinction has earned Firman a great deal of acclaim, as it is not often that a racer has the opportunity to race under two different countries’ flags.

Despite the fact that Firman was born in Britain, he has been able to use his Irish racing licence to great success, winning numerous races and achieving a high level of recognition in the racing community.

7. Eddie Jordan


Edmund Patrick Jordan is a renowned Irish businessman, television personality, and former motorsport team owner. He was born in Dublin, Ireland, and began his career working at the Bank of Ireland.

He was also a skilled racing driver and showcased his talent in 1971 by winning the Irish Kart Championship. Impressed by his performance, he moved up to the Formula Ford racing series in 1974.

Jordan was an extremely successful driver, winning multiple races, and even becoming the team owner of his own motorsport team. He was later awarded an Order of the British Empire for his contribution to motorsport.

Throughout his entire career, Jordan has always been dedicated to his passions and found success in the world of business, television, and motorsport.

8. Shane Lynch


Shane Lynch is an Irish singer who rose to fame as a member of the boy band Boyzone. He was popular with fans all over the world and had a successful music career. In addition to singing, Shane has also pursued other interests.

He is an avid auto racer and has taken part in numerous competitions. He has also been a contestant on reality shows such as Celebrity Big Brother and a judge on The All Ireland Talent Show.

These endeavours have allowed him to showcase his talents beyond music and gain even more recognition. He has truly become a multi-faceted entertainer who is constantly surprising and delighting his audience.

9. Maurice Dunne

Maurice Dunne is a renowned racing driver who earned his stripes in the sport between 1975 and 1989.

A native of Ireland, he was born in Rathfarnham, Dublin, which is also his current residence. Throughout his career, Maurice managed to make a name for himself as a skilled and determined driver, constantly pushing himself and his vehicle to their limits.

He was often seen as a driving force for the Irish racing community, inspiring the next generation of racers to follow in his footsteps. Maurice’s racing career spanned more than a decade and included numerous victories in various forms of motorsport, such as circuit racing and rallying.

He was also known for his impressive record in endurance racing, particularly in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he recorded several top-ten finishes. In 1989, Maurice retired from professional racing and returned to his home in Rathfarnham, Dublin.

He now works as a driving instructor, passing his knowledge and experience on to the next generation of Irish racers. Even today, he is remembered as a legendary Irish racing driver, who made a lasting impact on the sport during his time in the limelight.

10. Charlie Eastwood


Charlie Eastwood is a professional racing driver from Northern Ireland. He is currently a factory driver for the well-known car manufacturer Aston Martin.

Before his current role, Eastwood had a successful career as a junior driver, having competed in a variety of races and events. This gave him the experience and skills necessary to progress to a factory driver.

In this role, Eastwood has been able to represent Aston Martin in a variety of events and competitions, helping the brand to achieve success on the track. Eastwood is highly respected in the racing community, and his achievements have been acknowledged by his peers.

11. Kaye Don


Kaye Ernest Donsky, known by his nom de course Kaye Don, was an Irish world record-breaking car and speedboat racer. He was a renowned athlete who pushed himself to the limits to break world records.

He was a celebrity in the racing world due to his daring and dangerous feats. Kaye Don retired from road racing and decided to become a motorcycle dealer. He set up Ambassador Motorcycles, which became a well-known brand of motorcycles.

His business was successful, as he sold a variety of bikes to customers. Kaye Don was an innovative and creative businessman, as he was always looking for ways to improve his business.

He was passionate about motorbikes and was dedicated to providing the best customer service possible. He was also a generous philanthropist who gave back to the community. Kaye Don passed away in 2010, but his legacy lives on in the Ambassador Motorcycles he created.

He was a pioneer in the racing world and a successful entrepreneur in the motorcycle business. He will always be remembered for his passion, dedication, and generosity.

12. Billy Coleman

Billy Coleman is an Irish motorsport rally driver who is renowned for his talent and success. He has been given the nickname ‘Millstreet Maestro’ due to his achievements in the sport and his hometown of Millstreet.

Coleman is Ireland’s most successful rally driver, having won 29 races in his 20 years of racing. These victories include a number of British Rally Championship titles and Irish Tarmac Rally Championship titles.

His success is a testament to his talent and determination and has earned him a place in motorsport history.

13. Adam Carroll


Adam Norman Carroll is an accomplished racing driver from Northern Ireland. He has had a long and successful career in the world of professional motorsports.

Carroll has competed in a wide range of racing series, including Formula E, A1 Grand Prix, and the British Touring Car Championship. In the 2016-17 Formula E season, Carroll raced for Jaguar Racing and demonstrated impressive performance.

His skill and determination helped him to make a name for himself in the world of Formula E racing. Carroll has also represented his native country, Ireland, in A1 Grand Prix. His efforts paid off, and he won the series in 2009.

This victory was a major milestone in his racing career, and it made him a household name in Ireland. Carroll has established himself as one of the most talented racing drivers in Ireland, and he continues to be a respected figure in the motorsport community.

His passion and drive have earned him a great deal of success, and he is an inspiration to racing fans around the world.

14. Gareth MacHale

Gareth MacHale is an Irish rally driver who has achieved success in the world of motorsport. He has been rallying since the early 2000s and has made a name for himself in the sport.

He is a regular competitor in the World Rally Championship (WRC) and has scored points in the championship on several occasions.

MacHale has represented Ireland in the Junior World Rally Championship and has also competed in the European Rally Championship.MacHale has been successful in a number of events, including the Rally Ireland in 2010, where he placed second overall.

He has also won the Irish National Rally Championship four times and is the current record holder for the most wins in the series. MacHale is respected in the WRC community and is seen as a rising star in the sport.

His success in the WRC has seen him become a well-known figure in the sport, and he is a popular figure in his home country of Ireland.

15. Michael Devaney

Michael Devaney is an Irish racing driver who has been competing in motorsport since the early 2000s. He is currently competing in the British GT Championship and has previously competed in the FIA World Touring Car Championship and British Formula 3.

Devaney began his career in karting and has gone on to become one of Ireland’s most successful drivers. He has won numerous awards in his career, including the prestigious British Formula 3 championship in 2007.

Devaney has also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice, in 2008 and 2009. He has become a role model for aspiring Irish racing drivers and is an inspiration to all who want to pursue a career in motorsport.

16. Daniel McKenna

Daniel McKenna is a rally driver from County Monaghan, Ireland. He has achieved a great deal of success in his career, particularly in 2014 when he became only the third Irishman to win the British Rally Championship.

This was an impressive feat considering the level of competition and long history of the event. His achievement led to him being offered a drive in the WRC-3 and JWRC series for 2015.

This was a major milestone for Daniel as these are the highest levels of rallying and provide him with an even greater platform to showcase his skills. He has been praised for his accomplishments and is a great example of what can be achieved through dedication and hard work.

17. Alex Dunne


Alexander Dunne is an Irish racing driver who is currently competing in the GB3 Championship for Hitech Grand Prix. He has previously experienced success in the sport, winning the 2022 F4 British Championship with Hitech.

Dunne is an experienced driver with a great deal of talent, and his current championship is a testament to this. He is a fierce competitor, always pushing himself to the limit in order to achieve maximum performance.

His success in the F4 British Championship speaks volumes about his ability as a driver and his commitment to the sport.

He has proven that he has what it takes to compete at the highest levels, and his current championship is a great opportunity for him to show the world what he is capable of.

18. Craig Breen

Craig Breen was an Irish rally driver who made a name for himself in the World Rally Championship. He competed part time for the Hyundai team in the WRC, becoming a well-known figure in the sport.

His career highlight came in 2012 when he won the Super 2000 WRC, an impressive achievement. He was able to achieve this success by winning four classes at the Monte Carlo Rally, Wales Rally GB, Rally France and the Rally of Spain.

Breen was known for his skill and determination on the track, which earned him the respect of fellow rally drivers and fans around the world. He was an inspirational figure for many, and his legacy will live on in the world of rally driving.

19. Árón Taylor-Smith


Árón Taylor-Smith is a professional racing driver from Ireland who is currently competing in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) with the CarStore Power Maxed Racing team.

Before joining the BTCC, Taylor-Smith had a successful career in other racing disciplines, including the Irish Touring Car Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He is the younger brother of former BTCC driver Gavin Smith, who raced for the VX Racing team from 2003 to 2006.

Taylor-Smith is known for his driving talent and ability to get the best out of any car. He is a fierce competitor on the track and has earned a reputation as a reliable and consistent driver.

He has already achieved notable success in his BTCC career, winning two races and finishing in the top 3 in the championship standings in 2019. Taylor-Smith is a highly respected driver in the BTCC and is sure to have a successful future ahead of him.

20. Peter Dempsey

Peter Samuel Dempsey is an accomplished Irish racing driver from the small town of Ashbourne in County Meath. Dempsey began his professional career in 2004, when he competed in the Formula BMW UK series.

Although he finished in 22nd place overall, he was determined to keep pushing and improving. This determination paid off the following year in 2005, when he achieved a second place finish in the Formula Ford Walter Hayes Trophy race.

Dempsey also won the prestigious BRDC Golden Helmet award that same year, signifying a major milestone in his racing career. His success in 2005 set him up for a successful career in racing, and Dempsey has continued to excel in this field for the past decade.


Ireland has a long history of auto racing and is home to some of the best auto racing players in the world.

With the likes of Seamus Burke, John Furey, and Billy Coleman, Irish auto racing players have shown their skill and bravery on the tracks, and continue to impress fans all over the world.

The combination of their skill, dedication, and passion for the sport make them some of the most talented drivers in the world and worthy of recognition.

Whether they are competing for a championship or just for fun, Irish auto racing players will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.

Photo of author

Rob Bunker

I am a professional race car driver at Rob Bunker Racing. I have been racing for more than 10 years and I love what I do. I came from a family of racers and was born in an area that has been known for its motorsports history. After high school, I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a race car driver and pursued it with all my might. I began racing in 2005 and have since raced in many different series like the USA Racing Pro Cup, Indy Lights, IndyCar Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, ARCA Racing Series. LinkedIn