Faberge Fiesta Challenge Biographies

Fiona Kennedy (Butterfield)

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I really enjoyed the Ford Fiesta Championship although I’d have preferred to have been more successful.     I think Marilyn got fed up with me sticking our car into trees on nearly every rally!

One high/lowlight for me was coming into the final bend at Silverstone on the last lap of the race and leading it only to understeer my way to 3rd place. That, I think was the defining moment when I knew I'd never make it in motorsport

My biggest claim to fame was beating Louise in Rallying on some short tarmac stage in Wales in the fog! I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who recount how they beat Schumacher one lap once upon a time in karting. Well, we have to hang on to every tenuous accolade we can find!

The other time I knew that fate was conspiring against me was when I got pole position in Zolder and because it was a non-championship race they decided to reverse the bloody grid! Yes 25 years on and I remember John Taylor. You were one of them that reversed it !

Geunda was a worthy championship winner and with Louise going on to be a proper works driver. They really found two great talents amongst us through that initiative. I wonder if the new ‘Formula Woman’ will be as successful.

I went on to drive in various single-seater championships and in Formula Talbot for its short-lived life. It was probably better remembered for having Mark Thatcher in it, before he got lost in the desert. Then I had a baby and all my racing ambitions went out the window as the bills came in. Aran is now 22 and is in the world of film. He never went racing because my husband said if he ever set foot in a car that he’d break his legs, so that proved a bit of a deterrent!

I eventually married that fella that was stalking me, David Kennedy. He got into F1 briefly for the aptly named team called ‘Shadow’. He was more successful later on, driving sportcars for Mazda at Le Mans and winning the class several times. Unfortunately in 1991, the year Mazda won the race outright, he was driving the wrong car, but he did choose the drivers for the winning team, including Johnny Herbert. David now manages a few F1 hopefuls and for his sins he does the ‘Martin Brundle’ side of commentary for Irish Television. (And those sins must have been big to have to talk about Schumacher all season !)

Anyway enough about him. Having worked for ‘Road & Racing’ for 12 years (they made our wonderful yellow overalls) I decided to set up my own business, which I called ‘Grand Prix Racewear’. It did very well despite the recession of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Anyway I sold a majority share in 1994 to Ray Bellm who also used to race and who these days is busy at the BRDC, battling Bernie trying to save the British GP. GPR now has outlets in London, Silverstone and Paris and I’m still a director and shareholder.

In 1996 I moved back to Ireland and continued to do a couple of days a week for GPR commuting every so often. But the strain of a 16-hour week got too much and now I mainly just work from Dublin doing as little as possible.

Oh yes, I decided I wanted more kids and much to our surprise, in May of 2002, Sorcha (rhymes with Porsche!) was born and she is now an adorable 2 1/2 year old. And, low and behold, didn’t her brother follow in December of 2003. His name is Finn – as in finished…and we just got a new puppy to add to the chaos, called Coco. Some people ask me did I re-marry, but believe it or not I’m still with the same fella….I just can’t seem to get rid of him.

See you on the 30th – if I look a bit vague it’s because I’m hopeless at recognising peoples' faces even if I met them yesterday, let alone 25 years ago. Well done to Ali for organising it all and to Kevin for the website. What would we do without you….

- Fiona

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