Richard’s third column for GT Porsche magazine considers the work that goes on behind the scenes at an independent motorsport organisation:
I am writing this column on my iPhone (not so easy), as it is 5am and I am waiting for the Eurostar to take me to Belgium and from there on to Italy, for the Modena Cento Ore.
Modena Cento Ore is a wonderful luxury touring experience through Northern Italy. Racing participants get three days on track, with twelve special hillclimb-style stages, while there is also the option to participate as a regularity entrant. We have prepared two classic 911s and a 904 Carrera for the Cento Ore and, while the event is competitive, the feel is relaxed. It is a great way to enjoy a classic Porsche.
One thing I love about Cento Ore is that the organisers do not obsess over whether it is a rally or a race or a tour – it is just a nice mix of many things. A “nice mix of many things” neatly sums up my working life in recent times. While we at Tuthill Porsche are well known for our rallying, we have done more restoration, racing, touring and regularity events than pure rallying in the last few years.
Cento Ore is my first big trip of this year and the start of a busy period, which will take me everywhere from ten miles down the road for the Silverstone Classic, to ten thousand kilometres away in Kenya for this year’s Safari Classic Rally.
Travel is a great part of the appeal of my work and my busiest-ever year saw me fly more than sixty times. That’s an awful lot of time away from the office and the family, but it’s a privilege to see so many countries and work with local people whilst attending events. Rallying and touring competitions take us to parts of the world that one might never see as a tourist. I love that it gives us a purpose to be somewhere and that, as a result, we see amazing things and places.
The planning and logistics to make all these things happen is a huge part of having success. The cars must leave the workshop well prepared for the task ahead, but this is only the first of a series of challenges. Once the cars begin their competitive journey and team members begin theirs, the competition brings unexpected situations. The way we deal with these issues sets us apart. It requires calm decision making under pressure and often an element of resourcefulness, something I love: seat-of-the-pants stuff.
My first memories of these events are working with my father looking after ex-world champions! Björn Waldegård springs to mind instantly, as we did many events with him. Back then, eventing was very low-key compared to what we do these days and it was definitely loss-leading activity. This remains true of many events nowadays, but, by being out and about we meet people, we help our clients enjoy their cars and by doing this we generate extra business (and hopefully win a few things along the way).
I have gathered some great memories over the years and I have no doubt that our company would not be doing what we do now without these experiences. We’ve seen things happen to cars that few people have or will ever see. This gives us a profound understanding into classic Porsche 911s and the areas of inherent weakness of these amazing cars.
The other element, which I think may be alien to some, is the relationships that we have with our clients. In the most extreme cases, I have lived day-in, day-out with clients, travelling around the world for more than a month at a time. This has its moments, but on the whole it’s a wonderful thing. I’m pleased to say that we help clients from all backgrounds and they are generally amazing people who can teach us an awful lot about life!
So, here I am on a train, looking forward to five days around some of Italy’s most famous circuits on an extraordinary event with beautiful cars. I then have three days back at HQ before leaving for the Donegal International Rally, one of Ireland’s finest, with our latest 997 R-GT rally car making its debut. Lucky me…