The son of a County Kildare vet who also competed in rallycross, Michael Roe began his own racing career in 1975. He worked as a stuntman to fund his first Formula Ford season in Ireland and moved to England in 1978 to drive a works Van Diemen RF78. Runner-up in both the RAC and Townsend Thoresen FF1600 Championships, he won the Brands Hatch Festival to end the year on a high.
Roe graduated to Formula 3 with a Chevron B47 run by car dealer David Clark. He finished second on his debut but grew increasingly disillusioned by his lack of testing and a less-than-competitive chassis. He quit before the end of the season and temporarily retired from the sport.
However, he accepted Ralph Firman’s invitation to help establish Van Diemen in North America in 1981. After selected FF1600 starts he joined Norwood-Walker Racing for the 1983 Can-Am Challenge and was among the pacesetters once his venerable Lola T333SC-Chevrolet had been replaced by a newer VDS 002 chassis. Seventh that year, he dominated the series in 1984 by qualifying on pole position for all 10 races and beating Jim Crawford to the title.
F1 rumours and Champ Car opportunity
Talk of a Formula 1 offer from Tyrrell came to naught although he did make a short-lived return to single-seaters during 1985 when driving Ron Hemelgarn’s Lola T900-Cosworth in Champ Cars. He failed to qualify at Indianapolis but finished seventh at Portland before being replaced after just four starts.
Sports cars with Aston Martin and Nissan
Endurance racing was increasingly Roe’s focus. Initially racing in America and Japan from 1984, his World Championship break came in 1989 when Aston Martin returned to the series with the Mobil-sponsored AMR1. Roe was among the regular drivers and finished 11th on his debut at Le Mans that year. Sixth at Donington Park was the best result of a largely disappointing season. He finished 17th in the 1990 Le Mans 24 Hours with a Nissan R90CK in what proved to be his final race.
He now lives in County Kildare once again and works with his brother in Roe Autocraft in the same Naas street that his father has his surgery.
World Sports-Prototype Championship
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|1985||World Endurance Championship||1||0||0||0||0|
CART/PPG Indycar World Series
0% win rate
European F3 Championship
David Clark Team Riva Watches
0% win rate