by Vinnie Reddin - Daily Star - 30th September 1994

There are not many 15-year-olds who have the honour of racing at Mondello Park, at blistering speeds of between 90 and 100 miles an hour. But Dublin schoolboy Neil Shanahan is one of the lucky ones. This young third-year student, who races a 100cc CRG Kart is now on the first rung of a ladder which he hopes will eventually takes him right up to Formula One. Neil, from Churchtown, is busy gearing up for next week’s two-day go kart festival at Mondello.

“I’m really looking forward to this. It’s the biggest meeting of the year. I will be racing against drivers of all ages from around the globe.”


by Jacqueline Taylor - Evening Herald - 24th June 1997

Dunlop driver of the month for May is 17-year-old racing driver Neil Shanahan form Churchtown in Dublin. He joins Ed O’Connor to go forward for the Sexton Trophy, one of the most prestigious motorsport trophies.

Shanahan’s career started in 1993 where he made his mark in junior karting. He finished fifth overall in the ’94 Irish karting championship, eighth in the National Junior Karting championship ’95 and set his pace for runner-up in the Formula A Karting Championship last year, He also took the Philips Trophy for the most improved driver of ’96.

The number one position may have escaped him in his first three seasons, but it was a foundation for his move up to Formula Ford this season. Driving a Mick Merrigan Motorsport prepared Van Diemen RF92, this talent has won him all four “DHL Star of Tomorrow Races” so far this season and his winning streak looks set to continue.

Already he has made plans to move up to Zetec in ’98, with a view to racing full time in England.



Motoring News - 3rd December 1997

DHL Irish Star of Tomorrow FF1600 champion Neil Shanahan has won the 50th Dunlop RIAC Walter Sexton Memorial Trophy, previously won by John Watson and Eddie Jordan.

The 18-year-old Dublin schoolboy won nine of the ten rounds in his Mick Merrigan-run Van Diemen RF92 and took an excellent second place in the Zetec debut at Mondello late in the year. He beat off competition form Ed O’Connor, Ciaran Greenan (touring cars), Donal Loughrey (Formula Opel) and Zetec from runners Jeff Wright and Philip Kehoe for the prestigious award worth in excess of £2000.

Shanahan plans to graduate to the Zetec class-full-time in 1998 and is looking at Van Diemen and Mygale chassis. Once his exams are over next year, he hopes to race in England and has promised a “maximum attack” for ’98.



by Michael O’Carroll - Free Wheels - 17th January 1998

Watch for this rising star of Irish motor racing. Neil Shanahan is the name: he’s from Churchtown, Dublin: an 18-year-old Leaving Certificate student with a burning ambition to make it to the very top in a tough yet rewarding world of motor racing.

Red-haired Neil started karting when he was fourteen. In his three years with the Junior Karting chargers he won no championship, and yet he was awarded the Philips Trophy as the Most Improved Driver. In those days he was often hampered by poor machinery, by his own politeness or a simple lack of knowledge. That has changed!

Neil Shanahan, with support from his father Liam and mother Mary, entered a learning curve this year that would soon catapult him to prominence within the sport. He started racing in Formula Ford 1600 and he swept to success as the winner of the DHL Star of Tomorrow. Recently he was selected as the winner of the RIAC Dunlop Sexton Trophy by a panel of judges.

Shanahan was one of the six drivers chosen by the judges on a monthly basis since April last. The others were Ed O’Connor (Kildare) saloon car champion, Donal Loughrey (Dublin) Formula Opel champion, Ciaran Greenan (Dublin) saloon car racer, Jeff Wright (Bangor) Ford Zetec and Philip Kehoe (Wexford) Ford Zetec. So he had some major opposition.

The Sexton Trophy – the highest accolade in Irish motor racing – could be the passport Neil Shanahan requires to shoot to the top of motor racing’s ladder. Winning nine times from twelve starts during the past season Neil outstripped more experience opposition and it showed in his racing maturity far beyond his tender years. Politeness off the track has turned into astuteness in a racing car!

The Dunlop sponsored Sexton Award, which was announced on November 27th, comes to a young Dubliner in the form of a Scholarship. He will get a cheque for £2,000 from the Irish Dunlop, together with free travel to and from races in the UK from Stena Line as well a year’s supply of lubricating oil from Castrol.

What a start for this young talent? Polite, well spoken and groomed, yet burning with ambition to succeed, Neil Shanahan has two things on his mind for 1998. He wants to complete his Leaving Certificate, while at the same time he is determined to race here in the Ford of Ireland Zetec series. After June he will take in a few races in the UK to prepare himself for a full season there in 1999.

Apart from the support of his family. Neil Shanahan has the guidance of Oisin O’Briain from the Champions of the Future organisation, and Mick Merrigan from Rathnew, Wicklow who prepares the car and guides him within the sport. A former racer and highly qualified motor engineer Merrigan is a key person in Shanahan’s future.

Merrigan is convinced that he has a star in the making. He is also aware that the team are entering a slippery slope where money matters and along with which hard lessons must be learned with every turn of the wheels. Up to this Tipperary Water, Blaupunkt and the Bachelor Inn (his parent’s pub on Bachelor’s Walk) have been Neil’s main backers.

Watch out for Ireland’s motor racing young star – the youngest Sexton Champion ever in that series 50-year history, and a racing driver who shows much promise. This son of a Tipperary father and a Dublin mother has ambitions far beyond the Phoenix Park, Kirkistown or Mondello where he found beginner’s glory in 199


by Andrew Murphy - Motorsport - 17th May 1998

Life is hectic for Neil Shanahan at present. The teenager from Churchtown, who sits his Leaving Certificate next month, is finding it hard to combine exam studies with a racing programme that takes up all his spare time.

He swept all before him last season, his first year in single seater racing. His scalps included the coveted RIAC Dunlop Sexton Trophy and the DHL Star of Tomorrow championship. This year he sat down with his parents Liam and Mary and mentor Michael Merrigan before deciding to move up a rung to the Zetec class.

“I had it easy last year scoring nine wins from ten starts compared with this year. The sheer competitiveness of the Zetecs is awesome. I couldn’t believe it when I started in the class,” he said. “All the cars are evenly matched and any one of the four drivers could take the title this year. There is more pressure on you throughout the race. The Zetec is a more physical and faster car to drive and fitness is all important, so I go to Fiarsland Gym every second day to maintain the high level of fitness needed to be a winner. The two races I won this year had Chris Paul behind me all the way. He is vastly experienced and I’m a Zetec rookie yet I beat him”

It is ironic that Chris Paul showed Neil the lines to take at Kirkistown on his first visit to the track last year – and twice the pupil led the teacher home.

“The Irish Zetec class is just as competitive as the British class. Four hundredths of a second separated the first three in qualifying at Pembrey last month. You wouldn’t get much closer in any racing class. My main aim is to win the championship and be in the World Finals at Brands Hatch in October. But the championship is so competitive it could go down to the wire,” said the ginger haired student. “ My plan is to use of the Stena Line travel package I won last year and take in some British rounds. But that can’t happen until after the exams next month. It’s going to be hard as two of those rounds I’m looking at don’t really suit.”

He sees Philip Kehoe, Chris Paul, Peter Walsh and Mark O’Connor as his most serious challengers today.

“I have a reputation to live up to. Having No.1 on my car puts more pressure on me to continue winning. Rest assured no one will be trying harder,” said Neil.

Today is an important day for Mondello park as they mark their 30th anniverary and the opening of the new international 2.25 miles circuit. It will reverberate to the sound of Formula 1 and F3000 cars in the Superprix feature race.

Nigel Greensall is a favourite to take the honours in his Tyrrell-Judd, but he faces a strong challenge from last year’s winner Ron Cummings, Tony Worswick, Paul Stoddart and Rob Gray. Sarah Kavanagh is also listed to drive an F1 Jordon. The battle for F3000 honours will centre on Duncan Gray and Dave Shelton, both in Reynards.


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