Mondello a home from home for Tommy


tommy graham)

Kildare trucker Tommy Graham knows Mondello Park like the back of his hand, having raced cars there for more than four decades. A regular pilgrim to Full of the Pipe, he’s looking forward to the 2024 edition of Ireland’s premier truck show being staged at the iconic home of Irish motorsport.

Back in a prime summer slot, the 2024 Full of the Pipe truck show will take place in Mondello Park again, following a successful quickly-arranged trial run at the iconic Kildare venue last October. Hailing from Prosperous, Tommy Graham of Graham Sand & Gravel has been supporting Full of the Pipe for years and can’t wait for this latest show in July.

One thing’s for sure, he won’t have too far to take his immaculately-presented trucks…

“Absolutely can’t wait,” says the two-times Irish national Rallycross champion, who has a passion for both cars and lorries as well as a longstanding association with Mondello Park. “I live only two miles from Mondello and have been racing cars there for the last 40 years.

“Colin and Kevin are so good at what they do with Full of the Pipe. They have a great way about them and they manage to make everybody feel special and everybody feel welcome. They have a great crew of people with them, too. Since the last show, I’ve become friends with Jenifer Clegg, who is one of the sponsors. The show is a great way of meeting up with people.”

Affectionately known as ‘Mr Rallycross’, Tommy rolled back the years to capture the inaugural Irish Rallycross Grand Prix at Mondello Park in his left-hand-drive supercar on a blistering hot and dusty day of racing last June. Twice Irish Rallycross champion (in 2009 and 2010), the popular Rallycross and hot rod driver races at the venue up to eight times a year.

“I’m 63 now and probably should be giving it up,” he quips. “There are a lot of younger and fitter guys getting into it now and it’s hard to keep up with them. It’s very competitive these days.”

Although sharing a love of trucks with a passion for cars is far from unusual, it’s normally one or the other that drivers opt for. “Years ago I would have rallied against Niall Maguire, who is in the same situation,” says Tommy, who bought his first truck 42 years ago off his uncle – a Volvo F86 tipper.

Today, the owner of Graham Sand & Gravel (who is also involved in a quarry in Blessington) has seven lorries in the yard – four Scanias (one of which is owned and operated by his nephew), two Volvos and one Iveco.

“We brought the two Volvos, my nephew’s Scania and the 8x4 Iveco to the last show,” he comments. “I bought the Iveco brand new three years ago. It’s cheap and cheerful and works as good as any of them. I bought it to drive it myself but I then went for a knee replacement and now I drive a 171 Globetrotter cab 8x4.

“We’ll definitely take four to this year’s show as well. It’s great that they’re having it in the summer time, when the weather will be nicer. The fact that it went so well in Mondello in October, with only a few weeks to set it up, is a credit to them. There was bad weather on the second day but the venue held up brilliantly. It’s very central, too, and only a few miles from the motorway, so everything is in place for what should be another fantastic show.”

Is Full of the Pipe and Mondello Park potentially the perfect partnership? “It was great in Punchestown, too, to be fair, but you are always depending on good weather because of all the grass. Mondello is great and they have built up a good relationship already – it’s going to be a class show.”

In terms of truck shows, Full of the Pipe is the main one Tommy takes his lorries to every year – the annual pilgrimage (albeit it now literally down the road!). The Kildare haulier is known for the immaculate condition he keeps his fleet in literally every day of the week, so there might not be too many touch-ups needed the night before the show…

“Our lads work all week, even up to the Friday night before the last show,” Tommy continues. “We still had the lorries all presented like new on the Saturday. Our trucks are very well presented on the road anyway and I’d be pretty insistent on keeping them well. They are washed every evening, always look good, and that’s just the way we do things here.

“I give my driver the time to keep them well because to me it is a very important statement to make every day. I used to replace them every three years or so but now I run them longer and maintain them and keep them well. They are all sandblasted every couple of years and I have a good crew who know the drill. Some of them have been with me for more than 30 years and they keep them well.”

The condition of the trucks reflects the pride that Tommy and his team take in what they do. “Yes, and that extends to our customers as well,” he adds. “I treat them well and will always go the extra mile to make sure they are well looked after.”

It’s not difficult to see why Graham Sand & Gravel has been such a success! It’ll be back to work on the Monday morning after Full of the Pipe but for that one weekend in July Tommy and his team will calm the jets and savour the unique atmosphere of Ireland’s finest truck show at its iconic new home.

“It’s a great gathering and you always meet new people as well as catching up with others. I’d always meet people there who I haven’t seen for years. It’s like a busman’s holiday in that respect,” concludes the Kildare car and lorry lover. “It’s a great morale boost for the lads, too, and they always enjoy it. It’s a nice bonus for them and, if they win a prize, I let them keep it.”

Full of the Pipe Truckshow Ireland returns to Mondello Park over the weekend of July 13th and 14th.