Monday, 14 September 2020

Philip Sheane - Continuing The Family Tradition

Philip Sheane with his Formula Vee designed by his cousin David. Photo: Barry Cregg.

There are many family dynasties in motorsport from grassroots to the pinnacle that is F1. Many are sons of successful drivers, brothers, daughters or nephews that raced together or came up following in their footsteps. Names such as Hill, Stewart, Schumacher, Senna, Verstappen, Dunlop, Haslam, Rea are to name but a few. The same can be said at local level here in Ireland. Families like the Murray's, Dempseys, Daly's, O'Hara's, Duffy's and Sheane's have all carried this tradition in motorsport along. 

One family who have a long standing tradition in single seater car racing in Ireland is the Sheane's. Sydney Sheane was one of the founding organisers of the Leinster Trophy Races that were held in county Wicklow from 1950 -1957. His grandson Philip is the latest of the family to take to the tracks in Ireland. Hailing from Blainroe, just outside Wicklow Town the nineteen year old is in his second season of single seater racing and showing seasoned regulars a thing or two. His cousin David is the creator of the Sheane chassis that has brought many championships and race wins to drivers for over 30 years. His brother Kevin a successful racer himself, builds and maintains his engine so it is a real family effort the whole way through to get to the grid.

Philip Sheane, Sheane, leads Anthony Cross, Sheane and Jack Byrne, Sheane, during race two at Kirkistown in 2019. Photo: Barry Cregg.

I caught up with Philip at the recent Leinster Trophy meeting at Mondello Park to find out about this new rising talent in single seater racing in Ireland and to learn a little about the family racing tradition.

"It first started with my grandad Sydney who would have brought the Leinster Trophy races to Wicklow back in the 1950's when it ran through Wicklow Town and then my cousin David built his own cars and raced and ran lots of different guys over the years. Then my brother Kevin began racing when I was ten so it became really interesting to me then." 

The tracks were to wait a few more years before Philip got to try them out as his starting point in motor racing was not the usual route via karting. His beginnings in the sport started  off in the fields of his native Wicklow in midget car racing in 2016. He learned his crafted balancing his 850 Mini over the wet mucky ground which then is always a benefit in car control in wet conditions when competing on tarmac. 2017 and 2018 was much the same, but the interest in racing on tarmac was growing to much and the chance to do the Formula Vee Festival in 2018 in a pre '85 car was to hard to turn down.  

Philip Sheane with his Formula Vee designed by his cousin David. Photo: Barry Cregg.Add caption

" I got to do the festival and loved it so we made a plan to put a car together for the 2019 season and do a full year. For the first half of the year we were going to use it to get the car sorted out and for me to learn the tracks and look towards the end of the year to get a good result. By Bishopscourt though I got a 3rd in race two which was great."

It may have been a shock but it wasn't a once off, as by the final round in Kirkistown Philip grabbed pole position for the two races that day and lead for a good chunk of the races. That lack of experience came into play and he just couldn't hold off Anthony Cross to take his maiden win but he wasn't far off it and showed he was going to be there again the following year.

Philip Sheane, Sheane, leads Mark Reade, Leastone, and Gavin Buckley, Sheane, on his way to winning his maiden Formula Vee race at Kirkistown last month. Photo: Barry Cregg.

 " I should have won at least one race in Kirkistown that day but I guess the lack of experience came into it and held me back to hold on for the win but I got two poles which I think shocked a lot of people." 

He proved in the opening round back in July that he had the pace and only for a slight error on the exit of the final corner he could have won the second race. He made up for that in Kirkistown last month where he won round three of the championship and took his well deserved maiden Formula Vee win. 

Philip Sheane sits in his Formula Vee designed by his cousin David. Photo: Barry Cregg.Add caption

"It was great to get my first win and keep me in the hunt for the championship which is my aim but it will be hard to beat Anthony. I am planning to move to Formula Sheane next year for the 20th anniversary of the class. If I don't win it there is always time to go back and try in years to come." 

Philip Sheane, Sheane, on his way to winning his maiden Formula Vee race at Kirkistown last month. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Philip Sheane, Sheane, in action during qualifying for the Formula Vee race during the Leinster Trophy race at Mondello Park. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Philip Sheane, Sheane, leads Jordan Kelly, during Formula Vee race two. Leinster Trophy races. Mondello Park. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Another good haul of points in round four with a third place finish will certainly help his championship but a DNF in round five will have to be used as a dropped round. It will be a close fight for the championship when dropped scores come into play  and only time will tell but I think he has shown in such a short space of time that he has the talent to take the title this year. 

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