James Roe Jnr
Heading into his four season in the red hot sport of motor racing in the United States, Naas native James Roe Jnr, received a tremendous boost when Topcon Positioning Group, who were involved in sponsorship James for the past two seasons, have increased their sponsorship substantially after he announced his move to the Indy Pro 2000 Championship.
Topcon's partnership with James Roe began in 2019 when the company sponsored him and his Formula 3 Americas car.
Topcon Positioning Group creates technology for construction, geospatial and agriculture markets. They shape future infrastructure and food production, increasing efficiency across the workflow. A worldwide company with headquarters in Livermore, California, USA and Capelle a/d IJssel, The Netherlands.
James has been described as an “excellent ambassador, both for the world of motorsports and for showing ways in which our solutions can improve the racing environment” said Ray O'Connor. Topcon Positioning Systems president and CEO.
Ray O'Connor, is not just an Irish man, not just a Kildare man but incredibly is a native of Naas, just like James, and in a further incredible connection, before he moved to the US Ray grew up practically next door to the Roe family on the Sallins Road in Naas.
“I was invited to Topcon by Ray in 2019 after he heard about my story. It was at that point we met and from then on have a very good relationship, we clicked right away; both our mindsets are quite similar when it comes to always driving forward weather that’s Topcon’s business on and off the track” said James.
Ray’s family would be extremely well know in the county town. His parents being the late Paddy and Monica O'Connor.
A family steeped in sport, from rugby, to GAA, to racing and golf, Paddy was a well know and popular vet in the area while Monica was heavily involved in golf throughout her life and in latter years is acknowledged as a tremendous and popular coach to young members of Naas Golf Club.
During Monica's time Naas produced a host of top class golfers, all thanks to Monica, from the first day they would have arrived in Kerdiffstown.
From a family of seven, one of Ray’s sisters is Miriam (O'Flaherty), who is mother to former Kildare and Carbury football stars Morgan and Eoghan.
In fact during Kieran McGeeney's term as manager of Kildare senior team, Kildare were taken on a holiday to The US and one day the entire group were invited by Ray O'Connor and his wife Nancy, to their home in California where the group of 36 or so were wined and dined on a day to remember.
Small world or what.
It was back in 2018 when James Roe Jnr took the giant leap of heading to the United States to pursue his motor-racing dream.
While he had just completed his Leaving Cert that year, he had, nevertheless, shown tremendous ability on the racing tracks of the entire 32 counties, while also making his mark in the UK on numerous occasions.
Through hard work, and no shortage of ability, James, made a big impression in the ultra-competitive world of motor-racing during his first season in 2018. So much so that he progressed through the various classes and in 2019 he secured a seat in the F3 Americas Championship Powered by Honda with Global Racing Group, where he enjoyed a successful season.
That year back home in Ireland the Naas native claimed the prestigious Irish Motorsport Sexton Trophy for Young Racing Driver of the Year. It was his third time to be nominated and in December 2019 was presented with the award at an event in the Citywest Hotel, Dublin, part of that award saw James received support to the value of €50,000 for the 2020 season.
While the 2020 season was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, nevertheless the Co. Kildare driver continued to make progress in a fragmented season but now as he is preparing for the start of 2021 season he has moved from Formula Regional Americas to Indy Pro 2000, the official support series of the NTT Indy Car series which is the pinnacle of US motorsport. Roe is joining the Turn 3 Motorsport team, after spending two years in Formula 3.
The 22-year-old having previously been a frontrunner in Ginetta racing and Formula Ford 1600 in Europe. His single-seater career started in 2016, with two years in BRSCC National FF1600 resulting in numerous wins and lap records. He then went to America’s F2000 Championship Series, winning three races and a lap record, and won in the first of his two Regional Americas campaigns.
“I am extremely excited to be joining Turn 3 Motorsport for the 2021 Indy Pro 2000 season,” said Roe.
“To be making my move into the Road to Indy and supporting the IndyCar series with an Irish-owned team here in the USA is really special.
“After testing with the team over the winter and spending quite a lot of time at their shop in Chicago, it became very clear to me that the right personnel, knowledge, and level of experience is in place within the team to give myself and my partners the best opportunity to succeed.”
Turn 3 is fronted by Peter Dempsey, who in addition to famously winning Indy Lights’ Freedom 100 race in 2013 is a three-time winner of FF1600’s Walter Hayes Trophy.
“Joining the team was a very easy decision for me to make,” continued Roe.
“There is no doubt that this year is going to be extremely competitive as the level of competition is always very high on the Road to Indy.
“Competing on ovals and street courses will be a new experience for me as well, and I’m excited for that challenge. I have every bit of confidence in our package and believe we as a team have what it takes to be at the right end of the grid.
Team owner Dempsey said it was “very cool” to sign an Irishman to his team.
“As an Irishman myself, I’m hopeful that over the next few years we will be in a position to have more young Irish talent join Turn 3 Motorsport as well,” Dempsey said.
Sponsorship in the motor-racing game is huge and without it, regardless of the talent one has, progress will simply not be made.
James Roe acknowledges that he has been very fortunate, from Day one, of the help and support he has received from a host of people, from people back home in Ireland to the individuals and the companies he has been so fortunate to link up with over the past few.
And Topcan Positioning Group is certainly up there with the best of them.
“It is an honour to have extended by partnership with Topcon as we make a move onto the Indy Car package. Together, over the past two years, we have enjoyed successful campaigns in multiple markets; I look forward to continuing to work alongside the Topcon team, I have to doubt that Topcon technology is going to improve the on-track performance of our team throughout the season” said James.
Ray O'Connor added that “it is really exciting to see James enter the new circuit and to be part of that journey. He is a talented drive and dedicated to the sport. We are rooting for him every step of the way.”
James Roe will begin his 2021 season on April 15 with the Honda Indy Grand Prix at the Barber Motorsports Park, in Birmingham, Alabama.
For more information on the racing schedule and Roe's partnership with Topcon, visit topconpositioning.com/