Career Summary:

David Kennedy

  • January 15, 1953
  • 65
  • Ireland
  • Not Active
  • 120
  • 8
  • 25
  • 3
  • 6
  • 6.67%
  • 20.83%

David Kennedy is a former Irish racing driver who achieved the most in the sports car racing, scoring three Le Mans class victories with different Mazda prototypes between 1987 and 1989.

Earlier in a career, he participated in seven Formula 1 Grand Prix events in 1980, recording DNQs in all seven attempts. In 1979, he was a vice-champion in the British F1 Championship.

David Kennedy in 2015

David Kennedy

Formula Ford champion early in a career

Born in January 1953, Kennedy started his racing career in the early 1970s at Mondello Park, Ireland's premier racing facility which was established a few years earlier, in 1968. The first great success came in 1975 when he was the Irish Formula Ford champion and then even bigger success in 1976 when Kennedy became the RAC and Townsend Thoresen Formula Ford 1600 champion as the first ever Irish champion in some British single-seater competition.

In 1977, Kennedy progressed to Formula 3, starting a season with March-supported AFMP Euroracing and then switching to Anglia Cars to drive an Argo JM1 (Toyota). He finished 8th in the European F3 Championship with two podiums.

David Kennedy was the 1979 British F1 vice-champion

David Kennedy was the 1979 British F1 vice-champion

British Formula 1 vice-champion in 1979

In 1978, Kennedy continued to race in Formula 3 with Argo JM1 but also made a Formula One debut in the inaugural British F1 Championship with Theodore Racing's  Wolf WR03-Cosworth. He won a season-closing race at Snetterton.

He continued his winning streak by winning the first two races of the 1979 British F1 season at Zolder and Oulton Park, driving a Wolf WR4-Cosworth for Theodore Racing. Until the end of the season, he added one more win at Mallory Park to finish second in the final standings, just two points behind Rupert Keegan.

David Kennedy in a Shadow DN12 F1 race car, 1980

David Kennedy in a Shadow DN12 F1 race car

Seven DNQs in the 1980 Formula 1 World Championship

A success in the British F1 helped him to move Formula 1 World Championship. He joined underfunded Shadow team to drive the #18 Shadow DN11-Cosworth, failing to qualify for the main race in five Grand Prix events. After that, Teddy Yip of Theodore Racing took over an ownership of Shadow team, introducing a new DN12 race car for the French Grand Prix but Kennedy was again outqualified.

In June, Kennedy managed to qualify for one F1 Grand Prix, the Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama, which subsequently became the non-championship race. He raced for just two laps, retiring because of an accident.

Can-Am and World SportsCar Championship in 1981

In 1981, Kennedy left single-seater racing and made several attempts in Can-Am Challenge and World Sportscar Championship. He was driving Porsche 934 in two World Championship races, at Nurburgring and Brands Hatch, sharing a car with team owner Richard Cleare.

In the Can-Am Challenge, he was driving the #8 Frisbee Prophet (Chevrolet) for US Racing in two events, finishing fourth at Watkins Glen and not finishing at Road America.

In 1982, Kennedy recorded just one start, joining Forx Clothing Limited to drive a Chevron B36 at Brands Hatch 1000 Kilometers.

Kenendy made Le Mans debut in Peer Racing's Ford C100

Kenendy made Le Mans debut in Peer Racing's Ford C100

Le Mans 24h debut with Peer Racing

In 1983, Kennedy joined Peer Racing to drive a Ford C100 prototype in Thundersports series. He was a race winner at Donington and second at Brands Hatch.

In June 1983, Kennedy made a debut at 24 Hours of Le Mans, sharing the #43 Ford C100 with Francois Migault and Martin Birrane. They retired after 16 laps.

Racing with BMW in the 1984 British Saloon Car Championship

In 1984, Kennedy had a double programme in British championships, continuing to race occasionally in Thundersports series and competing in British Saloon Car Championship. His Thundersport car was an Ibec P6-Cosworth. His best result was third place at Oulton Park.

In the British Saloon Car Championship, Kennedy spent a season in a BMW 635 CSi, driving for BS Automotive and Grundig International. In nine races, his best result was the third place at Snetterton.

David Kennedy spent eight seasons with Mazda

David Kennedy spent eight seasons with Mazda

Joining Mazdaspeed in 1984

In June 1984, Kennedy joined Japanese Mazdaspeed team to drive the #87 Mazda 727C at Le Mans, sharing a car with Jean-Michel Martin and Philippe Martin. They finished 19th overall and 4th in C2 class. Kennedy participated in one more FIA WEC race with Mazda, at Fuji 1000 Kilometers.

Kennedy became a regular Mazda driver in 1985, driving for the team both in Japanese and World Championship. At Le Mans, he finished third in C2 class, sharing the #86 Mazda 737C with Philippe Martin and Jean-Michel Martin.

In 1986, his new car was a Mazda 757 in GTP class. His partners at Le Mans were Pierre Dieudonne and Mark Galvin. They retired after 137 laps.

Three consecutive GTP class wins at Le Mans

In 1987, Mazda 757 was a victorious car at Le Mans. Kennedy, Dieudonne and Galvin finished seventh overall and the first in GTP class.

In 1988, a result was similar. Kennedy finished 15th overall and won GTP class in the #203 Mazda 767, sharing a car with Yojiro Terada and Pierre Dieudonne. The third consecutive GTP class victory at Le Mans came in 1989 when Kennedy was sharing the #201 Mazda 767B with Pierre Dieudonne and Chris Hodgetts.

1991 Mazda 787B

David Kennedy was driving the #18 Mazda 787B in his last Le Mans attempt

Racing with Mazda until 1991

Kennedy was racing with Mazda for two more years. In 1990, a new Mazda 787 came. At Le Mans, Kennedy was sharing a car with Pierre Dieudonne and Stefan Johansson, retiring after 147 laps.

In 1991, Mazda finally captured its first and only victory at Le Mans 24 Hours, with Volker Weidler, Johnny Herbert and Bertrand Gachot in the #55 Mazda 787B. Kennedy was a member of the #18 crew, together with Stefan Johansson and Maurizio Sandro Sala, finishing in the sixth place.

Kennedy was out of racing in 1992, bringing his career to an end. He joined  Chamberlain Engineering in few events with Lotus Esprit Sport in 1994, finally closing a career after that.

David Kennedy as Status GP managing director

David Kennedy as Status GP managing director

Driver manager, F1 analyst, team leader...

In a post-race career, Kennedy became a manager to some racing drivers such were Ralph Firman, Richard Lyons or Damien Faulkner. He also develops a career of Formula 1 TV analyst, working for different stations in next two decades.

While he was still active in racing, Kennedy had been involved in managing duties at Mondello Park. He was one of the leading officials of the Irish team in the A1 Grand Prix Series when the championship had been established in 2005. Later he took over managing duties in Status Grand Prix team and Theodore Racing team.

Photos: davidkennedyracing.com, f1i.com, statusgp.com,