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.”

Unfortunately, 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”.

“He then 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 potless.”

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.

“The final 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 this one.

“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.

 

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