'Daly Express' became the yardstick for Irish drivers

 

Vivion Daly, who died in St Luke's Hospital on November 15th, was the most successful driver racing in Ireland over the last 20 years.

Daly dominated the ultra-competitive Formula Ford 1600 Championships throughout the 1980s, winning all the major titles and races including the unique FF 1600 Dun Laoghaire Grand Prix in 1987. In the 1990s he moved into the senior Formula Opel category, winning the championship and winning races up to last year.

Vivion chose quite a different career path to his older brother, Derek, who left Ireland early to pursue international fame.

Vivion focused instead on the Irish national championships, although he was a considered as good as the world's best when he opted to drive events such as the Formula Ford Festival at Brand's Hatch or Opel Lotus World Cup events.

Vivion Daly was born in Dundrum and attended school locally and in Terenure College.

He started his racing in karts before switching to saloons - a Fiat 128 3P - in 1980 and Formula Ford in 1981. He won the Sexton trophy, the most coveted award in Irish motorsport, in 1984 and again in 1986.

Stopping the "Daly Express" was item number one on the agenda of every aspiring Irish Grand Prix driver of the 1980s. It was no easy task.

I988 was a virtuoso season for Daly. He won eight times, as against a single victory for his closest rival.

A classic Phoenix Park victory and a tremendous Leinster TV meeting clash with a host of young Turks were the star events of a vintage season. He was dominant to a degree rarely seen before or since.

Daly was the only truly professional racing driver in Ireland at that time. He did five FF1600 races in England in 1988, finishing in the top eight on every occasion. For many he was the sensation of the 1988 Formula Ford Festival until he went out in the semi-final.

Even that busy schedule wasn't enough as he managed to get a race in the bigger Opel Lotus cars and finished an excellent fourth on his debut.

The Irish Motorsport Annual in 1988 described him as the "Yardstick".

Daly brought a new professionalism to Irish motorsport. He retained loyal sponsors such at Abrakebabra, 2FM, Sales Placements, Sachs, the Star and others for many years.

He coupled these attributes with a strong family ethos. His wife Carmel, and children Barry, Nicci, Naosie, and Ellen, were his most fervent supporters at race meetings up and down the country.

Technically he was peerless. He had the most complete understanding of his cars and tested assiduously until his machine was honed to perfection

Vivion Daly worked hard behind the scenes to improve Irish motorsport. As a past master with sponsors, he used his skills to get companies to back events and series as well as individual cars.

Vivion brought the same knowledge, tenacity, fairness and professionalism to his own motor business, which he built up very successfully.

The high esteem in which he was held by the motorsport fraternity was attested to his funeral.

The church in Sandyford was packed to totality with a huge overflow crowd outside.

Speakers at his funeral Mass, P.J. Fallon and Derek Daly, eloquently captured the bravery and tenacity with which Vivion fought his great track battles and his final battle against cancer.

Irish motorpsort has lost a great champion, at the young age of 48.

Vivion Daly: born 1954; died November 15th, 2002