John Starkey Reveals His Star Cars

Posted on: 25 September 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Self-confessed motor racing nut John Starkey talks to 50connect about his favourite motors.

After buying a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT “Tour de France” Berlinetta, John Starkey fell so much in love with his car that he decided to write a book about it.

The self-confessed racing enthusiast got so much into his hobby that he decided to turn it into a business. Buying and selling and writing about race cars is John’s career now after coming through years of "poorly paid" jobs and "barely scratching a living".

So when did the motor racing bug bite first for the 64-year-old from Birmingham.

John Starkey“I was 18-years-old and given a ride in the 1958 Ferrari. Fifteen years later I had saved enough money to buy that same car. From then on I was hooked and went on to race and rally the Ferrari for 12 years. It was definitely the speed element that caught my eye.”

Living in St Petersburg in Florida, John now drives a 1997 Mercedes AMG SL500 which he admits he bought because it was cheap rather than anything else.

“It’s a nice car. I’ve owned so many cars I can’t put a figure on it but the Mercedes is a favourite of mine.”

“I’ve just got two cars on the drive today but there was a time when I had a Lola, the Ferrari, a Porsche RS 3.0 an RSR and a Lancia Stratos all sat and waiting to be driven.”

“One Sunday morning back in England, I was cleaning them when I was approached by two young Mormons. I said “hello” and one of them said “Would you like a better life?” I indicated the cars around me “With these? Are you kidding?” they left without another word.”

John Starkey on the waterHis extreme passion for motors and racing is obvious when scouring through the books he’s written, but there are a few abiding memories John holds very dear to him.

“There’s literally too much to tell, too many stories, I could just go on and on, reeling off dates and races.”

“I suppose the best of the bunch is doing the Mille Miglia re-run (an open road endurance race) three times, years ago. I’ve also won races at the famous Monza and Nurburgring tracks in the Lola. I’m still racing a Porsche RSR and a 1957 Jones Hydroplane so there could still be more.”

“If I rally had to pick just one, it would be racing the Lola across Europe at places like Spa and Monza. That’s pretty special and I’m privileged to have raced at those tracks.”

Twenty years into his new career, John just finds it hard to choose his dream drive, not just for the road but also on the track.

John Starkey at the racing track.“It’s a tough question to answer. For the road, I’m torn between a Bentley – but that’s a footballer’s/ hairdresser’s/ old man’s car, a McLaren F1 – old but still the best, or a new McLaren Mercedes SLR.”

“If I’m racing on the track then it’s got to be a 1989 Sauber Mercedes C9 Group C car or a 1988 Nissan ZXT GTP Turbo, or a 1969 Lola t70 Mark 111B Coupe.”

Away from the screeching sound of breaking and the roar of the race track, John’s found a second hobby to concentrate on those rare days off and it’s no surprise to see him trying his hand at another adrenaline junkie sport.

“I’m learning  to water ski. It’s different and I’m really enjoying it at the moment. I’ve just learnt to “barefoot” (water skiing behind a motorboat without the use of water skis) and it’s great fun, great excitement and the weather here makes it even more enjoyable.”

John Starkey's latest book From R to GT2 – The Racing Porsche 911 and 930 is out on the 7th November 2008 and features over 800 pages of motoring history. The book will be available on John’s website for $99.99 (£53) plus shipping.

By Mark O'Haire

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