No matter what way one looks at the success that Naas native, James Roe has enjoyed over the past three years since moving to America to follow his dream of becoming a top motor racing driver, phenomenal is probably the best way to describe it.
Remember it was only back in 2018, James had just finished his Leaving Cert in Newbridge College, when he packed his bags and headed to The States.
He picks up the story himself.
“When you think about it, finished the Leaving Cert in Ireland 2018 then move over to America in 2018, just three years ago, with two bags, never been to America before, landing there for the first time; new culture, new team, new environment and three years later coming out with a second placed finish in the F2000 Championship and a scholarship to do Formula 3 in 2019; then to get on the Road to Indy, the official support series for the IndyCar package in North America and being a race winner and pole setter in my first year, it is pretty surreal.”
It was the final race of the season just a couple of weeks ago that James Roe finally got his first big win, coming home first in the Indy Pro 2000 Series.
So how important was winning that race for the Naas driver?
“It's big and as the drivers say here in the US at the moment, “it is contract season time at the moment in the motorsport world; everyone it talking about next season, where you should be and where you should be going, so to go into the off-season with a win is phenomenal.”
James is at home on a two week break before heading back and in a few weeks time it will be decision time for him and his backers as to where and for whom will he drive for come 2022.
“I am on a yearly contract so it was great to get the win it puts me in a very strong position when negotiations get under way for next season.”
“To get the win the way we did it was really great; there were a host of top drivers at that race including British Formula 3 champions, Japanese Formula 3 champions, US 2000 champions, a lot of good guys, a lot of good drivers so not only do you get recognised in America but you get recognised with people watching around the world.”
So no doubt you will look back on 2021 as a very successful season?
“Overall very positive season; started the year very strong, mid-season things got a little shaky and then from the summer break onwards we were very, very fast, we changed some things around internally and from the first race after that summer break we got onto pole position and if you just look at the second half of the year we were the second highest points scorer over everyone in the whole championship so we had a very strong later part of the year.
“For me to win with an Irish team in America; I'm an Irish driver; with an Irish owner; an Irish engineer, the guy that fills the engine is Irish, so it is fact an entirely Irish outfit, so really to do that not just in North America but anywhere in the world really is something special.”
As regards a new contract, James says the next two or three weeks will tell a lot; at present a lot of conversations going on from different teams; whether we move up to the next step which is called Indy Light or we do another year in Indy Pro 2,000 I'm not sure, but we have plenty of options which of course is good, so we will just let the dust settle for a week or two and see what our partners and sponsors want to do and then make a decision and after that the first race next season is in February in St Petersburg in Florida.”
So who is involved in that decision making?
“Me and my partners, where they want exposure, where they want to race, what fan base they want to be in front of, that will be between us all, basically what it boils down to is where I can be as competitive as possible, whatever team can offer me the best package and I can be competitive with.”
We will certainly be driving insists James, adding it is only a matter of which one we go with at this stage.
No doubt Michael's family from Naas are over the moon with the progress he has made in such a short space of time.
Dad, James, mam Ann Marie, not forgetting uncle Michael, a man who has driven at the very top in America for many a year but as James (Jnr) says “as you know there is no airs or graces about the Roe family, they're just happy to see me getting on and making it happen; there is no big rich daddy backing me or anything like that. James' dad operates a motor business — A Row Auto Ltd — on the Sallins Road, Naas.
Remember says James (Jnr) the common denominator, and it is a trait I take from home “that it is just hard work, when I am in America we work seven days a week; 12, 13 hours a day between training, engineer-
ing discussions, previewing races, debriefing from previous races; doing work for sponsors and partners; going to events, really you are flat out; I am probably home in my apartment I'd say a week a month only; the rest of the time you are travelling and working; it looks great from the outside looking in but while I am living the dream but to get to where I am now, and in the time frame just doesn't happen, it is hard work.”
So the next few weeks will be vital as James Roe continues to climb the competitive ladder in America, who he will link up with for the 2022 season we have to wait and see how the negotiations and the discussions pan out, but no doubt who ever it is can look forward to more success for this Naas man who continues to chase his dream in one of the most competitive sports imaginable.
We wish him well!
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.