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Short-lived 'con men' team owners


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#1 Buford

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 20:16

Maybe we can get some mileage and laughs out of this. I know there have been a lot of con men who showed up in racing in team ownership roles with a big splash over the years and disappeared almost as quickly as they arrived. I know there were European guys who were running Ponzi schemes who ended up jailed. That Essex deal? A couple I recall were some guy named Stacey who showed up in Nascar and had his name all over cars for a year or two then disappeared. There was a guy in Can Am who showed up with RC Cola sponsorship and first class everything, and talked of being the next Penske. He didn't last long. Other examples and wacky tales?

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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 20:20

Can't actually think of any off-hand...

But I do know we have one brewing here. Best keep mum about it for now, though, as they'd likely read this and spend someone else's money suing to find out I've got nothing to take!

Suffice to say that I understand people who they sponsor have a lot of trouble getting their first payment from this crowd... and then never see any more.

#3 RS2000

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 21:00

Originally posted by Buford
some guy named Stacey who showed up in Nascar and had his name all over cars for a year or two then disappeared.

Jim Stacey was involved with up to 5 cars I think in 78/9 (including the blue/yellow car driven by Earnhart in his rookie year - that stand-in driver David Pearson won Darlington with in September 79, after losing his Woods Brothers ride after April 79 Darlington?).
It was reported (in "Grand National Scene") that a bomb was found in Stacey's Caddy when parked outside a Charlotte motel - but I'd returned to the UK by then and lost touch with all the best NASCAR stories...

#4 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 21:03

Originally posted by Buford
Maybe we can get some mileage and laughs out of this. I know there have been a lot of con men who showed up in racing in team ownership roles with a big splash over the years and disappeared almost as quickly as they arrived. I know there were European guys who were running Ponzi schemes who ended up jailed. That Essex deal? A couple I recall were some guy named Stacey who showed up in Nascar and had his name all over cars for a year or two then disappeared. There was a guy in Can Am who showed up with RC Cola sponsorship and first class everything, and talked of being the next Penske. He didn't last long. Other examples and wacky tales?




Andrea Sassetti (F1) and Pepi Romero (CART) are the two most obvious names I can think of. Sassetti's story is well known, Romero was a Miami-Cuban drugs baron who, bizarrely, helped Emerson Fittipaldi in a very roundabout way.

#5 lil'chris

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 21:21

Originally posted by Buford
Maybe we can get some mileage and laughs out of this. I know there have been a lot of con men who showed up in racing in team ownership roles with a big splash over the years and disappeared almost as quickly as they arrived. I know there were European guys who were running Ponzi schemes who ended up jailed. That Essex deal? A


David Thieme ?

Buford, please enlighten us as to what a Ponzi scheme is ? ( I misread it originally as a poncey scheme :D )

#6 fausto

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 21:23

Originally posted by Buford
Maybe we can get some mileage and laughs out of this. I know there have been a lot of con men who showed up in racing in team ownership roles with a big splash over the years and disappeared almost as quickly as they arrived. I know there were European guys who were running Ponzi schemes who ended up jailed.......


http://www.google.it...dominelli&meta=

#7 kayemod

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 21:31

What about the Southern Organs scam, was the perpetrator's name Miller? Not exactly an owner, but lots of UK club racers thought they'd got sponsorship, half the cars racing seemed to bear a Southern Organs sticker at one time. Sadly, they discovered too late that what they'd actually signed was a hire purchase agreement to buy a musical instrument of some kind, an electronic organ in fact. With an accomplice Miller (?) went to prison after being found guilty of a multi-million £££ fraud. There was also Elgam Organs of course, from what little I can remember, a vaguely similar scheme. I think it might have been Barry Williams who claimed to be sponsored by "El-Gam, the Spanish gobbler". Or so Silvio, Tony Lanfranchi's dad told me, maybe sometime in the late 70s. Ex-chocolatier (Sp?, anyway he used to make things in chocolate) Silvio was a real character, he told me several libellous stories that had to be left out of his son Tony's book.

#8 Buford

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 21:32

Originally posted by lil'chris


David Thieme ?

Buford, please enlighten us as to what a Ponzi scheme is ? ( I misread it originally as a poncey scheme :D )


"A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that involves promising or paying abnormally high returns ("profits") to investors out of the money paid in by subsequent investors, rather than from net revenues generated by any real business. It is named after Charles Ponzi."

http://en.wikipedia....ki/Ponzi_scheme

#9 lil'chris

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 21:49

Thanks Buford. What in the UK I believe is referred to as a pyramid scheme :down:

#10 Ray Bell

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 21:56

Originally posted by lil'chris
Thanks Buford. What in the UK I believe is referred to as a pyramid scheme


While the elements are essentially the same, I wouldn't interpret it as such...

"Pyramid selling" is where products are sold to distributors through agents who all buy in at different levels. In the end it's expected that the products will be retailed, but usually the distributors are inept or the products are hopeless or overpriced so the only thing that ever gets used is the money that filters through to the top end.

There are, however, some interesting names given to fraudulent or questionable business practices... maybe this does belong in this thread? Like the 'Bottom of the harbour' schemes that operated here in the eighties. People would buy companies and strip their assets in some illicit way and send the company to the 'bottom of the harbour'.

#11 RStock

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 22:09

There was Danny Peace , who owned the 8D sprint car driven by Doug Wolfgang . Danny and his girlfriend were embezzling money from HUD (Housing and Urban Development) and using it for the car , among other things . I believe both ended up in jail , I know DP did .


And there were some women conned by a fellow trying to pass himself off as former driver Dr. Jonathan Palmer .

#12 275 GTB-4

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 22:26

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#13 Rob G

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 23:34

Originally posted by RS2000

Jim Stacey was involved with up to 5 cars I think in 78/9 (including the blue/yellow car driven by Earnhart in his rookie year - that stand-in driver David Pearson won Darlington with in September 79, after losing his Woods Brothers ride after April 79 Darlington?).
It was reported (in "Grand National Scene") that a bomb was found in Stacey's Caddy when parked outside a Charlotte motel - but I'd returned to the UK by then and lost touch with all the best NASCAR stories...

Jim Stacy (no "e") apparently was a coal magnate who purchased Norm Krauskopf's K&K Insurance team in mid-1977. His team ran a part-time schedule for several years, but in 1981 he started ramping up his NASCAR involvement. In addition to sponsoring a couple cars, he purchased Rod Osterlund's team midway through 1981, but after a handful of races Dale Earnhardt jumped ship and went to drive for Richard Childress instead.

In 1982 there were as many as 7 cars on the grid with his name on them, including two that he owned. I have no idea what benefits he reaped by sponsoring so many cars, although his own car had "Stacy-Pak Vitamins" on the quarter panels. But by the end of 1983 he was gone.

#14 Gary Davies

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 02:47

Short Lived Con Men Owners eh? Wasn't there some lawyer guy, part of a venture based in Bicester from about 1969? Did Chris Amon over... and a few others? Damn, just can't recall the name.

#15 Buford

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 03:01

Originally posted by Buford
There was a guy in Can Am who showed up with RC Cola sponsorship and first class everything, and talked of being the next Penske. He didn't last long.


OK found him I think his name was Bobby Rinzler. I remember he was talking big about his racing intentions and he was backing it up at the time. But he disappeared pretty quick.

http://www.wspr-raci.../canam1973.html

#16 brooster51

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 05:46

I don't think Bobby Rinzler was a 'con-man' per se. He was around quite a while, just on a increasing scale until, well he ran out of money I think. I've seen a reference to a 'McLaren-bodied Chevron B16' he raced at Sebring. Other adventures included included sponsoring/managing Camaros in Trans-Am, Lola T-222 and then of course 917/10s. I think what he's most famously known for is the quote "How do you make a small fortune in car racing, start with a big one" in Sports Illustrated.

#17 Buford

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 05:57

Yeah maybe not a con man as you say. He accomplished a lot more than I did. I just recall his talking about grandiose plans that never materialized and before long he was totally gone.

#18 Twin Window

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 09:14

Jean-Pierre van Rossem, the owner (or co-owner) of the Moneytron Onyx team from almost twenty years ago was a wee bit shady was he not?

He was followed swiftly by Peter Monteverdi who bought the remnants Monytron Onyx and proceeded to behave in a quite bizarre manner ("I will not have pink on my racing cars: take it off!") including using components taken from old F1 cars in his museum. :eek:

Not quite a team owner, but there was also that Prince Malik bloke who pitched-up at Arrows about ten years ago promising the earth, only to deliver zilch...

BTW It was Pepe Romero who enticed Emerson Fittipaldi out of retirement proper, was it not, by running him in the early part of '84 in the WIT March Champcar?

#19 eldougo

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 09:29

:rotfl: Con men in motor racing HOW could you THINK such a thing????? There is more in this sport ,only other i can think of is Politics.

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#20 McGuire

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 09:37

Originally posted by Rob G

Jim Stacy (no "e") apparently was a coal magnate who purchased Norm Krauskopf's K&K Insurance team in mid-1977. His team ran a part-time schedule for several years, but in 1981 he started ramping up his NASCAR involvement. In addition to sponsoring a couple cars, he purchased Rod Osterlund's team midway through 1981, but after a handful of races Dale Earnhardt jumped ship and went to drive for Richard Childress instead.

In 1982 there were as many as 7 cars on the grid with his name on them, including two that he owned. I have no idea what benefits he reaped by sponsoring so many cars, although his own car had "Stacy-Pak Vitamins" on the quarter panels. But by the end of 1983 he was gone.


J.D. Stacy's name came up again just a few years ago, connected a dodgy real estate development in Mississippi that traded on Elvis Presley's name by association with a former Presley farm and shirt tail relations of the pop icon. Stacy's development would have supposedly included 16 35-story retail/residential towers.

#21 ian senior

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 09:54

Originally posted by kayemod
What about the Southern Organs scam, was the perpetrator's name Miller? Not exactly an owner, but lots of UK club racers thought they'd got sponsorship, half the cars racing seemed to bear a Southern Organs sticker at one time. Sadly, they discovered too late that what they'd actually signed was a hire purchase agreement to buy a musical instrument of some kind, an electronic organ in fact. With an accomplice Miller (?) went to prison after being found guilty of a multi-million £££ fraud. There was also Elgam Organs of course, from what little I can remember, a vaguely similar scheme. I think it might have been Barry Williams who claimed to be sponsored by "El-Gam, the Spanish gobbler". Or so Silvio, Tony Lanfranchi's dad told me, maybe sometime in the late 70s. Ex-chocolatier (Sp?, anyway he used to make things in chocolate) Silvio was a real character, he told me several libellous stories that had to be left out of his son Tony's book.


I recall at least one entire thread on here about Sidney Miller and the Southern Organs fiasco. His activities just about finished the racing activities of several drivers at the time, and there is at least one driver who posts on here that suffered at Miller's hands. Miller must have had more charm than a very charming thing; Dave Morgan, who was taken by him, even went as far as visisting him in prison because he actually liked the guy.

#22 McGuire

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 09:56

Originally posted by Buford
Yeah maybe not a con man as you say. He accomplished a lot more than I did. I just recall his talking about grandiose plans that never materialized and before long he was totally gone.


Racing is full of these characters. Not really con men per se, but people who enter the sport with a little money and high hopes... they in turn hook up with the usual ten-percenters in the hospitality paddock who are happy to exploit, encourage, and circulate their dreams up and down pit row. Most get skinned clean and dealt out of the business in one to three years.

Not to be too cynical about it, but it seems that often, the only difference between a short grifter on the carny circuit and the successful racing entrepreneur is that the latter has actually managed to leverage his efforts into a permanent racing operation. They might be flying Gulfstreams today, but there are few if any self-made team owners who don't have some bounced checks and fakey paper deep in their closets. It's no place for widows and orphans. From some angles this whole business can appear to be an elaborate scam. I'm not really knocking it. For me it's all part of the fascination.

#23 rateus

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 11:02

Originally posted by Twin Window
Jean-Pierre van Rossem, the owner (or co-owner) of the Moneytron Onyx team from almost twenty years ago was a wee bit shady was he not?

He was followed swiftly by Peter Monteverdi who bought the remnants Monytron Onyx and proceeded to behave in a quite bizarre manner ("I will not have pink on my racing cars: take it off!") including using components taken from old F1 cars in his museum. :eek:


Post-Ecclestone ;) Brabham owners were also a 'colourful' bunch as I recall - did anyone ever work out exactly how Joachim Luhti came to own an F1 team?

I also remember the Leyton House group that bought out March being mixed up in a massive fraud investigation back in Japan - not sure if the F1 people (Akira Akagi iirc) were directly involved, but the cars quickly went back to being March didn't they :lol:

Add in the activities of Larrousse's partner Didier Calmels and there really were a lot of 'characters' involved with F1 in the early 90s...

#24 ensign14

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 12:27

Then there was the Shannon Group that ran Forti into the ground...

Perhaps the earliest one was Edward Pennington? I'm not aware of a Pennington ever taking part in a race, but there was one in the first London-Brighton back in the day, IIRC. It tended to run when no-one else was watching.

#25 stuartbrs

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 12:47

Do I dare mention Chapman.. Delorean?

*edit* actually, sorry, I didnt read the "short lived" part in the title.

#26 jcbc3

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 14:13

ACBC belongs.

He was longlived as team owner, but short lived as con-man.

#27 RS2000

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 14:49

Another NASCAR coal mining connection was Kenny Childers? Black Diamond Coal, Kencoal Mining and Belden Ashphalt appearing on cars around 79 and just as suddenly disappearing (maybe for legitimate commercial reasons of course).

#28 fines

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 17:06

Top thread theme, although it's certainly difficult to draw a line between the outright criminals like Lüthi and those who just happened to overstep a line in the pursuit of a dream - six million shades of grey in between...

Originally posted by ensign14
Perhaps the earliest one was Edward Pennington? I'm not aware of a Pennington ever taking part in a race, but there was one in the first London-Brighton back in the day, IIRC. It tended to run when no-one else was watching.

I believe there were some Kane-Penningtons entered in the Chicago Times Herald Contest for Motocycles, November 1895, though they probably didn't start.

I remember a German sponsor, can't for the life of me recall the name (Krause?), only the black/white/red colour scheme, who sponsored first only the Zakspeed team (Ford) in the Rennsport Meisterschaft, then the rival Schnitzer team (BMW), and finally also Gelo (Porsche)! Caused some bad blood, and disappeared from the scene very pronto! Would've been 1980 or so.

#29 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 17:17

Nice thread.

Some we discussed before. Maybe now answers to old questions?

Thieme (Essex)
http://forums.autosp...ighlight=thieme

Van Rossem
http://forums.autosp...

#30 kevthedrummer

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 19:33

Andrea Sassetti, one time owner of Andrea Moda, surely deserves a place in this thread.

#31 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 19:42

Direxiv and "Team Dubai" in the past few years always had me wondering what was going on.

#32 cheapracer

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 20:06

In my racing circles around Brisbane it is heavily alledged that Dick Johnson took all his earnings from his service station and put them into his 1980 Bathurst Falcon rather than paying for his fuel and if he didn't do quite well (or hit that rock as it turned out) things would have been looking not so rosy for him.

I'm sure that gambles like these aren't uncommon including Niki Lauda if I remember his book correctly.

#33 ghinzani

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 20:34

Originally posted by REDARMYSOJA


And there were some women conned by a fellow trying to pass himself off as former driver Dr. Jonathan Palmer .


As opposed to the generations of racing drivers taken in by a Dr Palmer claiming Formula Palmer to be a fair and equitable race series?

#34 mfd

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 21:16

Originally posted by ghinzani
As opposed to the generations of racing drivers taken in by a Dr Palmer claiming Formula Palmer to be a fair and equitable race series?

Do you mean his son might not be paying the full price? :lol:

#35 Spaceframe

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 23:28

I'm seem to recall some British guy who claimed he would run a six-car Jaguar team in Group C around 1992 or 1993 - when he couldn't get any money the team never materialized, and Group C died a quick death...

#36 Terry Walker

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 02:36

There was a strange but very plausible guy in Australia who convincingly claimed to be a millionaire businessmen and managed to have his "business's" name on a V8 Supercar at one stage - but he was a phoney and no money was forthcoming. I recall at one stage he had "bought" a multi-million dollar reception complex in Perth Western Australia, and the vendor cancelled a batch of weddings, but neither the guy nor the money materialised. He didn't actually take money, as far as I can work out - just liked to swan about having people think he was a millionaire - although of course he may have got some freebies.

And of course the recent "petrol pill" which not only imporves fuel consumption but eliminates exhaust pollution - well, a breakthrough that stunning would be world headline news, not just a bunch of brochures and a suddenly missing CEO.

#37 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 04:35

Originally posted by ghinzani


As opposed to the generations of racing drivers taken in by a Dr Palmer claiming Formula Palmer to be a fair and equitable race series?


Arrive and drive series are always tagged with this accusation, some more acurately than others; but you've really got some sand in your vagina over FPA specifically.

#38 fausto

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 06:22

Originally posted by Spaceframe
I'm seem to recall some British guy who claimed he would run a six-car Jaguar team in Group C around 1992 or 1993 - when he couldn't get any money the team never materialized, and Group C died a quick death...


Alan Randall who, later, was said to be involved in the rescue of a "name" F.1 team, don't recall which one at this moment...

#39 Barry Boor

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 08:06

Apologies to those who have read this before but I think it fits well into this thread, although short-lived may be overstating the time period involved.

This is reproduced from The Connew Story on my website:


One evening in April 1972 Peter's Mother and Father arrived at the workshop with some startling news. A man called Don Anderson had just phoned, saying that he was the Personal Assistant to one Hideo Yamanaka, a Japanese millionaire, who owned a string of department stores! Yamanaka was allegedly looking for a new F1 team to back, and had seen the aforementioned article by Doug Nye in the Japanese magazine I mentioned earlier. (Doug had sent us a copy of the magazine, so we knew it had been published, complete with photos of us all, even though we couldn't make head or tail of the text !) Peter rushed home to await another call, which duly came, and arrangements were made to meet Mr. Anderson under the clock at Waterloo Station at midnight. He was only in London briefly, as he was on his way from Japan to the U.S.A (or something like that) so it had to be a late-night get-together. I drove Peter up town, (an hour or so from the garage) and Mr. Anderson arrived right on cue. We moved on to an all-night Wimpy bar, somewhere around Oxford Street to discuss budgets etc.

Don looked at Peter's projected figures, and said that he thought we were penny pinching, and increased all the figures by at least 100 %. This meant 10 engines instead of 4, a big transporter etc etc. Peter bought us all a burger and tea, and we chatted until about 1 a.m. Then Don announced that although he did not have a lot of time, he would like to see the car. So, off we went again back out to Chadwell Heath, where he had a good look around, admired the car and then sat on the bench in the workshop talking fairly knowledgeably about racing for half an hour or so. Following this, we went back to Peter's girlfriends house for coffee. Don showed us some pictures of his family, and gave us Yamanaka's business card, complete with his Tokyo number on it. He told us he was booked on a flight out of Heathrow at 7.30 a.m. and asked if I could possibly run him out there. Those of you who know London will understand that from the Essex borders to Heathrow Airport is some journey, even at that time of the morning. Still, nothing was too much, given that Mr. Anderson had already told us that Yamanaka was certain to take his advice, and he thought we would be a very good team to sponsor. By now it was about 3 a.m. so off we went again. Peter was finished by now, and went off to bed. I took the shortest route between two points, and went straight through the centre of London. At that time of day/night it is the quickest East-West route. Strangely enough though, as we drove down the Strand, this strange character suddenly decided that he wanted to make a phone call from the 'all-night post office' just off Trafalgar Square. He said, “Don't worry, I'll get a taxi back to Heathrow from here.”

I suppose by the time I got to bed it was about 4.00 a.m. Back at my desk in the Co-op just a few short hours later the inevitable call came in from Peter. What did I think ? “Well, fantastic. We're on our way etc etc.” “Mmmmm,” said Peter, “I doubt it. Too much just doesn't add up.” During the next few minutes we made some enquiries, and ultimately came to some shattering conclusions. We'd been had !

Consider: 1. Mr. Anderson was VERY scruffy. Not to put too fine a point on it, he ponged. He explained that he had just come off an aeroplane and had been travelling for 24 hours - but, even so…..
2. He spoke of his wife, twice. Once to say she was dead; and once to say she lived in Australia. (He had an antipodean accent himself.)
3. We discovered that there were no flights out of Heathrow at that time of the morning.

Still, in his defence, he did quote the Japanese magazine article, and he dropped the name of the Editor of a British car magazine. Plus, of course, there was the business card ! The investigation begun. Peter called the magazine editor he named, and found out that the guy did indeed know a Don Anderson, but he certainly did not fit our man's description. I phoned international directory enquiries to verify the address in Tokyo, only to be told that Hideo Yamanaka is about as common in Japan as John Smith is in England. And there are no department stores called Yamanaka.


In addition, it has to be mentioned that the deal with Francois Migault via Brian Kreisky was for £40,000. Allegedly from various sources including Shell France. It may well be that M. Migault had all £40,000 - I cannot say either way - but we ceratinly only ever saw around £10,000 of it.

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#40 petefenelon

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 08:28

Originally posted by fausto


Alan Randall who, later, was said to be involved in the rescue of a "name" F.1 team, don't recall which one at this moment...


Brabham, which was going throuigh its revolving-door dying days at the time. He was going to commission a car from briefly-fashionable constructor du jour Galmer for the 1993 season.

The withdrawal of his six/seven strong squad of Jags and Spices did no good to the dying WSPC either...

Can anyone actually point to a race in which a Randall-entered car started?

I'm not sure Randall was a con man; he definitely seems to have been a dreamer on a monumental scale.

#41 petefenelon

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 08:34

I can think of a couple of recent cases from sports car racing in the USA - there was a guy who claimed to have the backing to run two LMP1 Lola-AERs, which rapidly morphed into a pair of Courages with the new and as yet still unraced 3.6l Cosworth turbo V8.

There is a full and weird story of what happened in the free archives of Dailysportscar.com - search for 'the phantom prototype entrant'.

There was also a fake sponsor who caused a lot of embarrassment to a very quick Grand-Am driver and a struggling constructor...

#42 275 GTB-4

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 09:36

Originally posted by Barry Boor
Apologies to those who have read this before but I think it fits well into this thread, although short-lived may be overstating the time period involved.

This is reproduced from The Connew Story on my website:


I phoned international directory enquiries to verify the address in Tokyo, only to be told that Hideo Yamanaka is about as common in Japan as John Smith is in England. And there are no department stores called Yamanaka.


Posted from the sunny antipodes...sorry...couldn't resist it :)

Yamanaka Company Ltd. International public company
Nagoya, 461-8608 Japan
81 052 937 9300 , 81 052 937 9337 fax
http://www.super-yamanaka.co.jp
Company Description: Retail: Operation of a supermarket chain; interests in DIY stores

#43 Barry Boor

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 14:26

Oh no! Surely we didn't miss out on a genuine deal after all. :lol:

#44 FLB

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 14:45

Originally posted by ensign14
Then there was the Shannon Group that ran Forti into the ground...

Not only Forti. IIRC, they were involved with three F3000 teams and five F3 teams! :stoned:

Buford, wasn't there a winning Indy 500 owner who had Chicago mob connections (Mike Boyle?)?

#45 Buford

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 14:53

Originally posted by FLB
Not only Forti. IIRC, they were involved with three F3000 teams and five F3 teams! :stoned:

Buford, wasn't there a winning Indy 500 owner who had Chicago mob connections (Mike Boyle?)?


I will quote myself from a previous thread

Raceway Park in Blue Island near Chicago which was still racing until just a few years ago, was supposedly owned by a guy named Pete Jenin. But it was actually owned in the 1950s by Tufanelli who ran the South Side mob activities for Al Capone. Tufanelli also owned open wheel race cars and had Indy 500 entries. It was not common knowledge that Tufanelli owned the track but my father knew it because he grew up in Springfield with a whole bunch of guys who ended up being mob guys and he knew Tufanelli very well. He also knew Mike Boyle who was connected to the mob in some way. Boyle owned the Maserati Wilber Shaw won Indy twice in 1939 and 1940.

Sometime in the 1950s Jenin was shortchanging the racers on purse, claiming less attendance than was actually showing up. So the racers got some of the wives to count the gate for about a month as the people came in. Then they confronted Jenin with their statistics and he denied everything. So my dad called up Tufanelli and told him what was going on. This was of course hardball because it might have meant Jenin would take a cement induced ride to the bottom of Lake Michigan if he was doing it on his own and skimming from Tufanelli. Tufanelli was furious and claimed he had no idea. He said he would straighten it out and he did. Jenin stayed alive though and still in charge so I don't know what went on behind the scenes. But it was not always a good old boys club. One of the best drivers, Bob Pronger, who stole cars for the chop shops run by Tufanelli, eventually ended up vanished.

Note the name may be Tuffanelli.

#46 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 15:08

There's a guy racing in a European junior series who is the nephew (I think it's nephew) of a major Italian crime magnate.

#47 ensign14

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 15:10

What was the thing with Team Brand (I think it was) in F3k? Bought Red Bull's outfit, turned up for one race IIRC, then vanished like an old oak table.

#48 ghinzani

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 15:23

Originally posted by ensign14
What was the thing with Team Brand (I think it was) in F3k? Bought Red Bull's outfit, turned up for one race IIRC, then vanished like an old oak table.


What, during the great fire of london?

#49 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 15:51

Ah yes, Brand. They had Minassian and Paffett too.

#50 Nordic

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 15:58

Was there anything odd about the Valour team that ran Ross Cheever in the British F3 series in the early 80's and also a March 7?S in thundersports?

Their flame burned very bright before vanishing.