Trained accountant Steve O’Rourke and EMKA productions became the management team for Pink Floyd post Syd Barrat and both Steve and drummer Nick Mason shared an interest in racing cars.
Steve’s international racing career got of the ground with a Ferrari 512BB which he entered and drove from 1979 to 1980 scoring a best 7th place finish in the 1980 Silverstone 6 hours with Chris Craft and Vic Norman.
In 1981 Steve had Michael Cane Racing convert Niki Lauda’s 1979 Project Four Motorsports BMW M1 Procar to a more liberal Group 5 spec and raced that for two season’s scoring a best 2nd place in the 1981 Silverstone 6 Hours whith Derek Bell and David Hobbs sharing the cockpit, Nick Mason also co drove Steve’s BMW M1 on it’s two outings in 1982.
For 1983 Steve made the bold decision to follow in the footsteps of Robin Hamilton and Nimrod to build his own Aston Martin powered Le Mans challenger the EMKA C83/1.
Len Bailey who was based at Gomm Metal Developments in Woking did the design work, Gomm did the metal work, the fibre glass body was constructed by Protoco, Aston Martin Tickford supplied 5,340 cc / 325.8 cui V8 engine and the whole car was prepared for competition by Micheal Cane Racing.
On it’s debut at Silverstone the C83/1 was driven by Tiff Needell, Jeff Allam and Steve, they qualified 17th but retired on the last lap due to a failed wheel bearing. Nick Faure replaced Jeff at Le Mans for the 24 hour race where the car qualified 25th and finished 17th despite spending 2 hours in the pits with a suspension problem.
Due to uncertainty over the 1984 fuel regulations the C83/1 did not race again until 1985, by which time the ground effect venturi had been replaced with a flat floor, the rear suspension had been revised and the car had been renumbered as C84/1.
At Silverstone the C84/1 driven by Steve, Tiff and Bob Evans was nearly four seconds a lap in qualifying than two years earlier and qualified 15th for the six hour race but it retired again this time due to an engine issue.
Nick Faure again drove the car at Le Mans in 1985, in place of Bob, and the trio were now nine seconds a lap faster in qualifying and started from 13th on the grid. By employing an out of sequence fuel strategy Tiff Needell was able to lead the 24 Hour classic for 9 mins during the opening hours before finishing a respectable 11th.
C84/1 appeared at Spa where James Weaver took over the guest seat from Nick Faure and at Brands Hatch, as seen in the last photo where Mark Galvin took over from James. The car qualified 17th and 10th respectively, retiring from both races fuel pressure and drive belt issues respectively.
Steve retired from competition until 1991 when he returned racing GT’s winning the British GT GT2 and GT1 class drivers championships with co-driver Tim Sugden in 1997 and 1998 respectively, his highest Le Mans finish was 4th also in 1998 when he shared his McLaren with Tim and Bill Auberlen.
A second EMKA was built in 1989 using the discarded ground effect floor from the C83/1 and spare parts from C84/1 including the revised type of suspension, with the original red C83/1 bodywork.
Owner Rudolf Ernst is seen at the wheel of C84/1 in the photo’s above taken at the Silverstone Classic Test Day earlier this year.
Thanks for joining me on this “9 Mins Of Fame” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at another Le Mans Challenger from Mercedes Benz. Don’t forget to come back now !