Kildare man Michael Roe was once hailed among the quickest drivers in the world and was destined to become a household name, but today he fixes cars in his brother’s workshop in Naas - and his nephew, James Roe Jr, has gone on to follow in his footsteps.
What most of the customers don’t know is that Michael shared race grids with future Formula 1 world champions like Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher and was spoken about in the same breath as motor racing icons like Ayrton Senna.
In one remarkable summer in 1984, Michael Roe broke every lap record from the USA to Canada in the once prestigious Can Am series.
He only got noticed in America after a chance meeting selling brake fluid led to a test drive so spectacular, it brought the backing of a millionaire businessmen, the broadcaster ESPN and great acclaim.
In the blink of an eye, Michael Roe went from and Irish car-boot seller to an American billboard celebrity.
He would do things in a race car that left the biggest teams in Formula 1 scrambling for his signature and his charisma was such that he won the friendship of one of the biggest stars in Hollywood — Paul Newman.
But on the cusp of greatness, a critical decision sent Michael Roe down a different road and he soon disappeared from view.
But, with the emergence of James Roe Jnr as a formidable talent, Michael Roe is back.
Narrated by Steve Dan Mills
Produced by Robert Mulhern and Liam O'Brien
Additional recordings by Megan Jelinger
First Broadcast, RTÉ Radio 1, Saturday 20th October, 2018
Rebroadcast RTÉ Radio 1, Bank Holiday Monday 06 of May 2019 @6PM
James Roe Jnr is scheduled to race in the 2019 American USF2000 Series. He is sponsored by John Campion and Dennison Trailers, among others.