by George Dearsley – Irish Sun – 1st June 1999

Fans were mourning the death of teenage motor-racing prodigy Neil Shanahan yesterday. The 19 year old Dubliner, tipped as a possible future Formula One world champ, was injured in a smash during a Formula Ford race at Oulton Park, Chester. He died later from injuries at the Countess of Chester Hospital. A family friend last night said his mum Mary and dad Liam were in shock at their home in south Dublin.”They are all totally devastated. Neil was a lovely lad and you couldn’t meet a nicer family.” said the pal. “It’s absolutely heart-breaking for them.”


His dad, who runs Dublin’s Bachelor Inn and Grumpy Jacks pubs, had invested tens of thousands of pounds in his son’s dream career. Tragic Neil had set his heart on being a racing driver since childhood. After his first go-kart drive at the age of 12 he saved his pocket money to buy his own second-hand kart. While friends went clubbing, the track-mad youngster spent his money on racing tyres. And he was soon whizzing around circuits at 100mph – before he was even old enough to take his driving test.

He switched from karts to Formula Ford cars two years ago and again worked his way quickly to the top of the field. He was hoping to make the jump up to Formula Three in the near future.

The talented driver won Ireland’s top motor sport award, the RIAC Dunlop Driver of the Year, in both 1997 and 1998 and also clinched last year’s Irish Ford Formula Championships.Earlier this year he was signed up by Van Diemen International, the same racing outfit which set Irish Grand Prix hero Eddie Irvine on the road to success. Many experts regarded Neil as the sport’s hottest young property. His coolness and expertise saw him regularly driving at speeds of up to 145mph.


This year he was racing in the British Formula Ford Championships, which began at Donington Park in April. Earlier this year he said: “It’s an amazing feeling knowing that I am now a full-time professional racing driver. I do not get flustered. If you are a good driver, you do not think about what you are doing, it comes naturally.” He added: “If I had to live in a shed and drive a Morris Minor to compete in Formula One, I would be delighted.”A spokesman for Brands Hatch, which runs Oulton Park track said: “We extend our greatest sympathy to his family and friends.”

by Joe O’Shea – Irish Daily Star – 1st June 1999

An Irish motor racing star – tipped as the next Eddie Irvine – was killed yesterday in a horror racetrack smash. Neil Shanahan’s car hit the retaining barrier at high speed as his parents watched in shock from the stand at Oulton Park in Cheshire, England. He was rushed to hospital by helicopter but died despite frantic efforts by medical staff to revive him.


Neil (19) – a native of Churchtown on Dublin’s southside – was one of the brightest stars of Formula Ford racing. Motorsport commentator John Kenny last night spoke of his own grief at the loss of a talented young star who was also his friend.

“It’s a terrible shock, a real tragedy. He was destined for Formula One, there is no doubt about it,” he said.

The brightest young star of Irish motor racing was tragically killed yesterday in an accident – as his parents looked on. Dubliner Neil Shanahan (19) sustained fatal injuries during a Formula Ford Championship race at Outlon Park racecourse in England. His parents were at the trackside to watch their son compete – his father Liam had followed his career throughout Britain and Ireland.

They travelled with their son by helicopter to a nearby hospital where medics lost the battle to save his life.

Officials were last night trying to establish the exact circumstances of the accident. Shanahan – from Churchtown in Dublin – hit the retaining barriers on a high-speed bend after an incident involving two other cars.


The youngster’s tragic death has shocked Irish motor sport – he began his career in Karting when he was just 13.

Commentator John Kenny last night spoke of his own grief at the loss of a talented young star who was also his friend.

“It’s a terrible shock, a real tragedy, Neil was a good friend,” said Kenny. “He was destined for Formula One, there is no doubt about it.”

Mr Kenny added that the thoughts of everybody in the sport were now with Neil’s devastated family. His family had made many sacrifices to fund his motorsport ambitions and had been present at all his major races.

Officials from the Ford Motorsport operation last night said everything had been done at trackside to aid the stricken driver


“Medical officers were called immediately to the scene where it was discovered that Neil had suffered a massive trauma which induced cardiac arrest. He was resuscitated at the scene and immediately airlifted to the Countess of Chester Hospital, but tragically died before arriving.

“The cause of the accident and subsequent injury has yet to be established. This was a deep tragic incident and out thoughts are obviously with Neil’s family, friends and team at this moment,” said a spokesperson.

Officials at Oulton Race Track said the accident occurred at approximately 1.20pm.

The Formula Ford Championship is widely recognised as a rung on the ladder to Formula One, with Eddie Irvine, David Coulthard and Damon Hill all graduating through this formula.

Neil Shanahan – who had a works drive with the Van Diemen team – was being widely tipped as the next young star to make the jump to the top grade.

He had twice won the prestigious Dunlop Driver of the Year Award.


by Brian Foley and Kitty Holland – The Irish Times – 1st June 1999

One of Ireland’s most promising racing drivers, Mr. Neil Shanahan, was killed yesterday while competing in a round of the British Ford Zetec championship at Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire.

The 19-year-old driver from Churchtown, Dublin began kart-racing in 1993, graduating to Formula Ford 1600 in 1997. He won the Irish championship in a year that also included a race win at Phoenix Park and was awarded the Dunlop Sexton trophy.

Mr. Oisín O’Briain, Mr. Shanahan’s press spokesman, said: “Neil was seen as one of the most impressive young drivers coming through the ranks. He was seen as the best, an absolute natural. He manager Mick Merrigan, is totally distraught: “It still hasn’t hit me. I was just talking to him three minutes before the incident happened. We were taking pictures and having a laugh.”

Mr. O’Briain said the cars were coming around the second lap when Mr. Shanahan’s car failed to make the bend.

“It seemed three cars collided and Neil hit the barrier. An air ambulance came down and took him to hospital but he was dead on arrival.”

A past pupil of St. Mary’s College, Rathmines, he was awarded the Barney Manley Driver of the Year trophy for the most outstanding achievement in Irish motor sport last year.

He was also voted the Irish Motor Sports Driver of 1998 by motoring correspondents. He had signed with Van Diemen for a works drive in the British and European Formula Ford championships and had finished fourth in the first of the British races at Brands Hatch.

His father owns a number of public houses in Dublin, including the Bachelor Inn.

He is survived by his parents and his sister Clare.


by Bernie O’Toole – Irish Independent – 1st June 1999

Irish motorsport was stunned last night by the death of teenage racing star Neil Shanahan in a track accident. The 19-year-old from Dublin’s Churchtown died when his Formula Ford hit a barrier at more than 100mph at Oulton Park in Cheshire yesterday after contact with other cars.

The double Irish Driver of the Year, the only son of publican Liam Shanahan, was battling for ninth place on the second lap of the British Formula Ford Championship race when the accident happened.

Attempts were made to revive him at the circuit before he was airlifted to hospital where he was later declared dead. Unconfirmed reports suggest he suffered chest and neck injuries.

The teenager, who drove for the Van Diemen team, is the first Irish Racer to die in competition since a crash claimed Peter O’Reilly at the Phoenix Park in 1978. Neil’s parents Liam and Mary were at the track when the accident occurred. It’s understood that Mr and Mrs Shanahan who own the Bachelor Inn and Grumpy Jack’s pub, travelled back to Dublin last night to be with their daughter Clare.


by Neil Leslie – Mirror – 1st June 1999

One of Ireland’s top young racing drivers has been killed in a horrific race smash. Teenager Neil Shanahan’s promising career ended tragically yesterday afternoon when his Formula Ford car collided with track barriers.

The crash followed an incident involving two other cars. The 19-year-old Dubliner was tipped to drive his way into Formula One ranks.

Formula Ford is a recognised training ground for Grand Prix stars and Neil emigrated to Britain earlier this year to follow his dream. Top drivers Eddie Irvine, Damon Hill and David Coulthard have all driven in the series.


The circumstances surrounding the smash are now under investigation. Officials say three cars were involved in the accident on the Clay Hill bend of England’s Oulton Park race track. More than 30,000 people at the Bank Holiday meeting watched in horror as Neil failed to walk away from the wreckage. He was treated at the scene by three medics and airlifted to hospital but died before arrival. Dr. Paul Trafford said: “He had massive injuries which weren’t compatible with survival. His injuries were too great.”

Neil was a son of well-known Dublin publican Liam Shanahan who runs the popular Bachelor Inn and Grumpy Jack’s pubs in the capital.


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