Former sportscar racer, businessman and Lola Cars International boss Martin Birrane has passed away suddenly at the age of 82.
A former driver who competed in the British Touring Car Championship and Formula 5000, Birrane made ten starts in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, achieving a podium finish in 1980 while also winning the GT class with a BMW M1 in 1985. He also went on to be the Irish land speed record holder.
A successful property developer, he bought the Mondello Park circuit in 1985, saving it from closure, and brought the BTCC and the FIA Sportscar Championship to the venue.
Following Lola’s failed attempt at Formula One in 1997, Martin Birrane purchased Lola Cars, renaming it Lola Cars International, and remained in charge until 2012.
During that time, Lola created A1 GP cars, various LMP prototype race cars, and diversified in the automotive and aerospace sectors.
Lola Cars was forced to close in 2012, but he remained in charge of the Lola Group, who offered automotive expertise which included an advanced wind tunnel in Huntingdon, England.
Prior to his passing, he had been active in organising the 50th anniversary celebrations of Mondello Park, as well as the 60th anniversary of Lola activities for the upcoming Goodwood Festival of Speed.