Revered, redoubtable and a racer.
The words “icon” and “legend” are too often bandied about and applied liberally. Footballers, for example, seem to move from mediocrity to legend status within the course of one 90 minute match. In the door-banging world of touring car racing, Andy’s success is well deserved and absolutely is a legend in his sport. Fiercely competitive, his team ARE/Rouse Sport radically changed the face of saloon racing from the mid 1970’s to the modern day. With countless successes including 4 overall BTCC championship wins, 60 wins, countless class wins and championships, Andy is arguably the greatest touring entrant and driver. Of course this is subjective, but you can’t argue with the stats...
I grew up in a household that very much enjoyed motor racing. Thursday’s were keenly awaited. Autosport would come out and I would read it cover to cover. It was there that I started to read about an engineer/driver who seemed to be winning every race he turned up to. It seemed to me Andy quietly got on with the job and his attention to detail and innovative methods in engineering his cars to suit ambient and track conditions meant his name stretch further than just Autosport.
By going to motor racing circuits such as Brands Hatch and Silverstone regularly, I would see the master at work. Effortless, but he was devastatingly fast. He and his teammates’ cars were feared and the benchmark for which everyone else had to try and beat. Look what he did with the humble Toyota Carina – he turned that into a race winner. Who would have thought? Other commercial success was through the marketing of race turned Ford Sierra RS500’s across the globe, a trick repeated with the rep-monster Ford Mondeo – the list is endless.
To me, Andy represents more than motor racing. He’s a bloody nice bloke. Intelligent and empathetic, Andy exudes a coolness seldom seen elsewhere. The sad fact is that the likes of Andy will never been seen again in the pit and paddocks of worldwide touring car racing. You will never have an engineer as astute and clever as Andy, who can also develop his cars into pure thoroughbreds. Of course, he was backed up by a tight knit, equally skilled team, but Andy was the figurehead. And then, he races and wins. Absolutely amazing.
Speaking of the team, every car produced by ARE/Rouse Sport was immaculately prepared. Every conceivable detail covered.
What’s more, multiple winners such as Tim Harvey and Paul Radisich have passed through Andy’s team achieving success and going on to furthering themselves. Would they have got that far without his assistance? It’s difficult to say.
Sadly, Andy’s record total number of wins – 60 – has now been eclipsed by Jason Plato, and surely, Matt Neal. Not taking anything away from these two, but Jason and Matt are racing in an era of three races per weekend. Andy raced when one race was the norm, occasionally two. With that in mind, it proves how long Andy was at the top of his game.
I’m speaking from the outside looking in. I would have loved to have worked for the great man, but instead I watched from a distance and have since formed the Facebook group dedicated to him. I have learnt so much from people who worked for him, raced with him and related to him that I feel happy I have learnt so much I didn’t know.
It’s often said meeting your heroes will only leave you disappointed. Not with Andy. I’ve had the pleasure to meet him a couple of times; once at Silverstone and once at Goodwood Festival of Speed. It’s been a joy both times. Proving that being welcoming and personable ensures that when you do meet your heroes, the memories last forever.
He really should write a book!
Oliver Myles Marketing
M: 07879 660115