The Phantom Prototype Entrant
The following tale is presented as a warning, to anyone else who
might be approached by this fellow in the future…. He’s
tried it on with three different chassis manufacturers / engine
suppliers, and has wasted huge amounts of time along the way.
His first targets were Lola and AER, and quite naturally,
both companies treated this man’s approach as a perfectly
genuine one. His plan, in the second half of 2004, was to purchase
two new Lola B06 / 10s and six AER engines, to race in the LMP1
category of the ALMS in 2005.
“Fortunately he didn’t cost anyone any
money,” comments AER’s Mike Lancaster, “but he
did cost ourselves and Lola a huge amount of time and effort.
“He did seem absolutely genuine, and was very
convincing. When we spoke to him on the telephone, it certainly
sounded as though he was running what he said he was running: a
large catering operation in Detroit. It was obviously very busy
and noisy in the background.”
that catering operation was either “a soup kitchen in Detroit”
or possibly even a McDonald’s….
Mike Lancaster’s suspicions were well and
truly aroused by his and Lola’s potential engine and chassis
buyer not catching a flight to the UK “because I’ve
lost my passport”.
came up with every excuse under the sun to explain why the money
didn’t come through,” continues Mike Lancaster, “even
suggesting that he couldn't get into the bank because, although
it was only across the road, there were too many people on the sidewalk
to get to the entrance door! That’s when I was really suspicious,
so I called the bank in Detroit and was told that he was effectively
Nick Jordan, Lola’s former Sales Director,
was allegedly even more livid with this character than Mike Lancaster
at AER…. but at least the truth was now known.
piece of the puzzle came with a chance meeting with a chap in the
US who had actually met him,” adds Mike Lancaster. “He
explained (with some jollity) that **** was a down and out who worked
as an assistant in a soup kitchen as a favour from the owner, who
had found him sleeping rough in the back of his pickup one day!
”How I laughed at the time!”
**** then sought
another target, but was clearly unaware of how closely connected
the racing car industry really is. He didn’t get far with
“He approached us about the supply of eight
engines and three cars,” reveals Trevor Foster at Zytek Engineering.
“Nick Jordan and I have known each other for 30 years, and
although we’re obviously very careful about what we can say
about our respective companies’ business, it became apparent
that Nick had been set up by this character. We managed to escape
without wasting any time on him.”
It appears that there was a certain (deranged) logic
going on in this fellow’s mind. He apparently claimed, in
the first stages of his ‘enterprise’, that he was dealing
with some huge US food companies, which were going to back him to
race in the ALMS.
For his third
attempt at a ‘prototype programme’, he apparently claimed
that he had backing from the aerospace industry. Having been found
out twice, his next targets were further removed from the regular,
UK-based, chassis / engine suppliers in prototype racing.
And so we come
to the potential Courage Cosworth project, one which has been bubbling
along in the background for several months, but which came to a
sudden conclusion recently when, as you will have read on dailysportscar
already - here - the money failed to arrive.
That first payment should have come from the infamous **** –
potless and, apparently, witless, in Detroit.
We’re not pointing the finger in anyway at
manufacturers which were taken in by this man – someone who
apparently has been known to pitch up at race meetings and help
out teams with tasks such as polishing bodywork.
Thanks to the
power of a search on Google, we’ve found a post on a forum
– relating to 1950s pick-up trucks, bizarrely – in which
**** (for it is clearly he) refers to himself as “an over-educated
under-employed type who loves a good challenge”.
Indeed he does.
So if anyone out there receives an approach from
this fellow, using ploys outlined above, be very, very careful.