There have been some icons of Irish motorsports over the years. The ones that stick out in my mind are Eddie Irvine, particularly during the frosted tips stage of his career, the Jordan Formula One team and, of course, Eddie Jordan in general. You can tell I’m an F1 fan, but there’s one icon of Irish motorsport I’ve never had a chance to see. Modello Park. That’s why I’m really looking forward to a brand new documentary coming to RTÉ this Bank Holiday weekend which celebrates fifty years of Modello racetrack.
What Is Modello Park?
Mondello Park is Ireland’s only internationally recognised racetrack and is used for both cars and motorbikes. Carved from Kildare farmland near Naasa, Modello Park was opened back in May 1968. The track was created for one simple reason. Road racing was on the way out owing to safety fears so motorsports would need a new home. And so a 1.3-kilometre racetrack was born. Fifty years later
Mondello Park was started by enterprising enthusiasts, who recognised, because of competitor safety, that the days of traditional road racing was near an end,. That era started near Athy, Co. Kildare in 1903 with the staging of the highly successful and much acclaimed Gordon Bennett International.
Nowadays, Mondello Park has become a hub for motorsport in Ireland. The track has a racing school, corporate suites, support from the motor industry and a busy competition schedule. But it wasn’t always so rosy in Mondello as the track faced tough times over the years. That was until Martin Birrane bought the track, and it was he who commissioned Golden Modello to celebrate fifty years of the track.
Golden Mondello is a one-hour celebration of Ireland’s most iconic racetrack. Personally, as an F1 fan, I’m taken aback by the names who’ve raced on this tarmac in near Naas. World champions Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen, James Hunt and Emerson Fittipaldi all raced there along with bike champions Joey Dunlop andMike Hailwood, all to name but a few. Senna was even sensationally challenged by a local driver when he raced there in 1982.
The Mondello Park story is told with historic action footage, well-placed interviews with some of the sport’s best-known personalities. Golden Mondello brings it all together into an hour-long documentary, which will be airing on RTÉ from 6.30 pm this Bank Holiday Monday.