The Red Bull Dublin Showrun and the Future of Irish Motorsport
Written by Jake O’Callaghan, Edited by Simran Kanthi
Red Bull Racing and veteran driver David Coulthard roared through the streets of Dublin on 15 January, taking Red Bull’s 2012 challenger, the RB8, to the banks of the River Liffey to tear up the roads and thrash the water with the deafening sounds of Formula 1’s bygone V8 era. The event saw thousands of spectators gather to witness one of the most exciting motorsports events on the island of Ireland in years. My name is Jake O’Callaghan and I was right there covering the event for Project DIVEBOMB.
The highly-demanded tickets for the event went on sale in December and they sold out rapidly. Anticipation for the event was huge and nothing like it had been witnessed on the island since a similar Red Bull Showrun took place in Belfast nearly five years ago. Speaking to the media on Friday, Coulthard said he arrived in Dublin “earlier than [he] normally would,” and expressed his love for the city, particularly how “welcoming” the people are.
On Saturday, the RB8 was open to the public where you could get up close to view the piece of machinery that won such a hard-fought championship in 2012. Coulthard was there throughout, giving fans opportunities for pictures and autographs along with walkthroughs of the car and its intricacies.
Sunday was the main event, and a whopping 15,000 people came out to witness the spectacle. The event started just before sunset, but it did not include just Coulthard, Danish Stunt Bike Rider Mike Jensen was there to show the eager crowd dazzling tricks on his stunt bike, along with Irishman and Drifting sensation Conor Shanahan, who would burn rubber and raise tyre smoke into the Dublin air. There were three identical runs planned and each driver was due to appear in each of those runs.
Mike Jensen first emerged from the Red Bull garage area, immediately wowing fans with mystifying tricks, such as spinning the wheels whilst sitting backward, standing up vertically while moving, and perhaps most spectacularly of all, managing a wondrous handstand on the moving bike.
Conor Shanahan next appeared, his Toyota GT86 Drift Car set to put on a magnificent display. He showcased his drifting skill perfectly, at times sliding almost perpendicular to the bordering crowd as they waved him past. The penetrating sound of the engine backfire startled many as tyre smoke coalesced in his car’s wake. He punctuated his run with impressive burnouts that earned the widespread applause of the onlookers.
Finally, it was David Coulthard and the RB8’s turn the rev up through the streets. As soon as the car started up, it could be heard from end to end, and excitement brewed as this was much of the crowd’s first taste of Formula 1 action. As his car exited the garage and blasted down the road, the sound echoed throughout the valley of buildings. As Coulthard reached the end of the stretch, he performed a pirouette and was able to then blast his car down the road at full speed for the first time. He powered down the road at about 150 mph, the engine revs reverberating through the chests and ears of the jubilant crowd. He made about ten trips up and down the stretch, sparks flying from the bumpy North Quay tarmac before he retired to the garage in preparation for the next runs.
The next runs went largely the same, except for a concerning moment with Coulthard in his second run, where the championship-winning F1 car broke down when he attempted a pirouette. It was wheeled back to the garage and Conor Shanahan emerged prematurely to satiate the crowd as they awaited news of the RB8’s condition. Fortunately, the failure was minor and was resolved before its final run.
At the end of the run, particular fan areas were opened up onto the track, allowing them to walk to the garage area and see the car following its run, along with the opportunity to meet the stars of the show and get pictures and autographs.
All in all, the event seemed to be a massive success, and every fan I spoke to seemed to immensely enjoy their time there. Red Bull coordinated the event well, and the handing out of complimentary Red Bull beverages made sure the fans were kept happy throughout. This event was historic in the scope of Irish motorsport, but what does it bode for the future of motorsport on the island?
There was a lot of talk at this event about a potential Formula 1 Irish Grand Prix in the future, possibly run on the streets of Dublin. David Coulthard endorsed the idea, saying Dublin would be a “perfect” host for the F1 circus. There has always been low chatter about this prospect over the years, but it doesn’t seem a priority for Formula One Management and the FIA at the moment, with other new Grands Prix currently being discussed in South Africa, Colombia, and Korea.
However, with 15,000 tickets selling out so quickly, regardless of their vastly cheaper price in comparison to the Grand Prix tickets, the demand is very clear. Formula 1 is a hugely popular sport in Ireland, and one has to entertain the idea of a Grand Prix on the Emerald Isle in the not-so-distant future.