Prodrive, the place where dreams come to life.
Well, that is true if you’re an Aston Martin Racing fan, or simply a petrolhead. Or an engineer. Because they do a lot more than ‘just’ run a few racing teams. But let me start at the beginning as I know it.
After a lengthy break from endurance racing Aston Martin returned to it in 2004. Being a bad fan and not looking into any detail at all, I was unaware they had formed a partnership with Prodrive. I had heard the name David Richards, but that was pretty much it.
Fast forward a few years (about 12) and I am a lot wiser, but still not wise enough. There’s only one remedy: a company tour. Today was that day.
Our hostess was the wonderfully opinionated Jackie Irwin who is well known with the people ‘in the know’. She’s been with the company quite some time, is a self professed petrolhead and she knows her stuff. She provided so many historic facts and so many details I would not be able to tell you all of them. What I do remember is that David Richards was a racing driver himself and that the company is now 32 years
old young. It has been involved with a lot of different teams/drivers/cars and its history is littered with prizes, winning cars and champions (some very iconic).
Next to the racing cars they are involved in racing boats, but also in creating technically advanced parts for the aerospace industry, several car brands, and even medical devices. The list seems endless.
Through the years this company really has spread its wings and it sounds like they are going from strength to strength.
Being a bit single-minded my reason for visiting was, of course, Aston Martin Racing. I was in luck, as the cars are still in Banbury. They are leaving for Germany this Sunday where they will race in the 6 hours of Nürburgring next Sunday.
The place is filled with Aston Martins!
The Aston Martin Racing cars are there, the AMR trucks are there and, even though several parts have already been sent ahead, quite a lot of Aston parts are still there, some packed and ready to go. There were also a few customer cars (like those of Beechdean) and new Astons waiting to be turned into race cars (GT3 and GT4).
And, a bonus, David Richards has a beautiful blue DB6 Volante which was also there.
I have wondered for some time now what it takes to turn a road car into a race car and the most obvious answer is: money. But it is great to see how much work Prodrive puts into this. So many parts are created there, lots of it by hand. Jackie also mentioned the passion the employees have. They are no strangers to working exceptionally long hours without complaint.
Like with the previous tours I went on, it would go too far to write up everything I have heard today. I am very happy that I now have a little bit of an understanding of what Prodrive does. I am very impressed with what I’ve heard and seen and will probably love those Aston Martin race cars a little bit more from now on.
Speaking of which, one Aston Martin race car graces Prodrive’s reception: the #009 which won Le Mans in her class in 2007 and 2008. And what a beauty she is.
In 11 days it’s race day once again. Being at a track is awesome and pit walks gets you closer to the drivers and a little bit closer to the cars. Being at Prodrive means you get to touch the cars.
And no matter how much we love the drivers (because we do!), the cars are the stars. After this tour I am just a little bit star (car) struck.