About us – Why we got into
Mobile Caravan Service Engineers
Great life & would never change a thing………..
Went on Jim’ll fix it milking a cow blindfolded but after the latest alligaitions now I’m not to sure!!!! :-)
Left school and went straight into speed boat repairs working on one of the two 007 speed boats. Both we’re used in the Movie of which I can’t remember but it’s the one that jumps over the Cop car.
Some guy bought one & wanted to race it in the middle east. My racing career nearly began on that day but a war in Bahrain put paid to that.
A few more years pass and after loosing half my tools in the canal and swan attacks & butter fingers a change of career was needed.
Became a very competent mechanic on, (Outboard motors etc) but after following another one of those in Braunstons canal yet another career move was on the case.
Bought a 40ft trailer of BBQ’s and was orderd out of Ford at Daventry because the workers wouldn’t return to work until they’d had a great deal but that was only a quick fix as a entrepreneur and Motor racing was beckoning me.
I had a brief stint back in London at Hertz rent cars repairing crashed cars.
We had a Volvo, you remember the one with the big alloy bumpers. Well it was the 70s. This car had been hit by a fallen tree.
We repaired it but found it had an annoying rattle coming from the rear end.
Someone suggested we put the cleaner in the boot while an Indian lad called John Wayne drove with me passenger.
Driving down the M4 into London, we were stopped by Plod.
Out we all get. Police asking our names? John Wayne replied the Asian lad, John Doman I replied and on opening the boot out came the Indonesian cleaner who was listening for the rattle and replied some un-pronouncable name.
Plod was having none of it and down the station we all went, we was accused of smuggling illegal immigrants.
6 hours we were kept for and still had to drive the bloody Volvo back.
In the boot went the cleaner, John Wayne went on to be a Hollywood Actor and I rode off out of town!!!
Turned up in 1985 at Silverstone to collect my mate in an extended black Ford Granada I’d traded a horse & 2 geese for and this bloke opened the boot and in went his luggage. I jumped out to educate him with some verbil and this very influential man called David Richards stood in front of me. DR as he’s known started DR Autosport after retiring from World Rallying winning the world championship with Ari Vatenen.
David’s first words to me were “What do you do for a living?”, my reply was “working for you now and I’ll start tomorrow please”!
This encounter bought me an education & job most people can only dream about.
Very brief stunt driving work with Rothmans Porsche advert department for the Middle East, throwing a 911 up and down the forest.
I then went on to run Race track day’s with Mobil 1 BMW M3 british touring car which is where I met Mike Smith the radio 1 DJ.
We worked together on the BTCC Touring car championship, winning it in 1988 with the other very likeable driver called Frank Sytner.
A year later Mike was trying to start his own team, running Ford Sierra RS500’s. Just as three of us was about to leave the now Prodrive team, Mike crashed his helicopter breaking both ankles and also nearly killing himself & his future wife Sarah Green.
Another 6 months then passed and Mike bought 2 Ex Dick Johnson Cars to compete with. We nearly won in the first year but totally dominated in 1990.
This was all in fact down to the fact we had another unsung hero, a real good friend of mine called Mark Ellis (Now Chief Aerodynamics engineer at Mercedes F1). All of this stuff was in between table football games that travelled everywhere with us. Even after being awake for 3 days, a game kept us going. Jaw dropping stuff in Japan!!!
While all this was going on, I was making a name for myself with all sorts of people and getting into all sorts of scrapes like:
Never having the correct paperwork for customs, always taking rally cars abroad to events with illegal documents.
Most cars people own have 1 log book for one car, we had 5 or six BMW M3’s with a log book and build plates for a BMW 1.6 Auto.
I confused the italian customs so many times it’s a wonder I wasn’t linched.
I’ve even worked with Mafia families in Sicaly.
It was stuff like this that was really exciting but when I look back?
No wait a min: bloody great……..
We arrived at a race track called Spa in Belgium to do 24hour touring car race.
It was a joke from the second we turned up. Not having the budget for a top class team because it was more important for the Boss to launder the budgets for things like his house & new blades for his helicopter etc.
Anyway we started the race and sometime in the night one car came into the pits with a major misfire, after we fixed the car my race truck spares had run out of the necessary parts for this re-accruing problem.
As soon as we were getting back up the leader board, the other car came in with the same problem. DR (David Richards) said to me “what are we going to do??”. My reply was “I don’t know yet but when I know, you’ll know”. It seemed like 10mins but I’d gone out the back of the pits & broke into the German BMW works teams race truck & stole the parts needed to get us going again, after all it was there fault our cars were breaking because it was them who built our engines.
Missions Impossible was born.
After that I was race track famous, well sort of.
People would set me all sorts of stupid tasks of which I could never be beaten.
The best one that springs to mind was the lending of a guitar I owned to rock star Chris Rea and getting my name on his God Great Banana Skin album. (Check it out on the credits, it’s true). It reads: John Doman of Prodrive thanks for lending me the D’Aquisto.
The second one was totaly confusing the dock authorities with a race trailer without the tractor unit. You try thumbing a lift with a 40ft trailor. I’d abandoned the tractor unit when it’s air compressor had failed. I was having problems with this unit all the way up through France and I went to pull away at the lights when: I couldn’t change gear because all the air from the tanks had leaked. As I came to a standstill I thought, what am I going to do. The truck was stuck halfway across the traffic lights. I couldn’t select a gear because it was an air changer, I couldn’t turn it off because it was air solinode. I decided to tilt the cab & see what could be done. I didn’t want to disconnect the fuel lines because that would mean re bleeding the fuel system. I desided to use my breifcase to starve the engine and block off the airbox.5 mins later the old Rolls Royce pistons we’re not even grunting. Giving up, I pulled off my 4000 Lire breifcase I’d bought from the local Itailian Agip station only to find that the fablon coating was now 2-3 feet long streching down to the floor. I fell about laughing to myself & just disconnected the fuel line, flagged a tractor unit down & told him to take my trailer & I to the local port, making him stop on the way to get duty free beers.
As you do.
I got into my now career by being known for being able to fix Motor homes etc, so I was always in high demand at race meetings.
These teams were all importing large Motor Homes from the States but none had been checked or even Europeanised correctly.
I served 2 years being employed at Trakstar (Mike Smiths race team) but then returned to Prodrive.
This time it was full time World Rallying.
I started with Ari Vatenen, Marku Allen and a young kid called Colin Mcrae.
This kid as we called him had an atmosphere around him just like DR did. I party’d with Colin, he was as crazy as I was, this with a few of us was a VERY dangerous fuel mixture.
I’d worked with his father in 1986 and know his parents well but couldn’t believe what crazy lads they had produced.
At Colins memorial I remember the Priest telling a story of Colin selotaping his pet hamster to a scalectric car and taking it for a spin around the house.
I also worked with another up & coming World Champion called Richard Burns, he was a nice lad but just not my cup of tea, maybe the red hair?
Richard turned out to be arrogant because of bad managment & people not standing up to him. It was all going to his head but was always good with me.
I remember Colin had just been signed by Ford for $6 million and came out with us for another heavy night just like the lad next door.
He sat & looked after me when I was very Ill one night in Cheshire after the RAC ralley, (To much drink).
It was McRae & me who were held at gun point along with 6 other members of the Subaru team. It was by the Italian police, because we had been 8 up in a Subaru going the wrong way around a round-a-bout in stealth mode. (Lights off) with a great mate called Oddball.
We were all put to stand against a wall, guns pushed in our backs. I said to Colin, see if she’s (Police woman) is wearing the kit. he lost the bet & went for it. He lifted up the police womans skirt!!!!!!! The Police went ballistic, as did our team manager. The managers exact word were, ” If you want to keep your job I suggest you behave”.
Looking at him with a gun in his back made me fall about laughing. That was the least of our problems.
We were fined £75 quid between us all & one was sent back to the hotel in a taxi…… Bargain!!!!!!
I left Prodrive in 1995, Colin & Richard both went on to be World Champions.
2005 Richard died of a brain tumour.
2007 Colin died with his Son & two others in a helicopter crash. (Not here for a long time, just a good time).
I was this time employed by Yokohama tyres & TSW alloy wheels. I ran the warehouse, being paid loads of money etc but it was & never was what I wanted to do. I found I was getting to old for Motorsport & lost for that buzz. I left Yokohama or should I say, was asked to leave after 10 years. The best thing that ever happened to me..
Agency driving for Fed-Ex with 40ft artics, is this what happens to washed up race team members? Returned to Prodrive and worked with Petter Solburg but things wern’t the same, the bloke was an arse & I told him so. I can’t even be bothered to check I spelt his name correctly.
Finally I was sacked for using the “F” word by another knob head who had the IQ of a flipflop and who was clearly resting on people like me’s laurels. Sound good though when they talk a load of crap about how important they are to the shaving mirror!!!!!!!
Miss my times though, of putting tyre cuttings in with the Bertie Bassits and Damper rubber cuttings on the cheese and Ritz biscuits.
Watching mechanics & engineers alike trying to chew them.
One fine day whilst driving up the M1 reminiscing of long nights at -42 in the Arctic and how I fell in love with a lesbian reindeer. One of you lot overtook me with the mandatory snaking caravan and the wife beating the husbands ears for his every move and I thought, I’ve never seen a decent mobile caravan mechanic!!!
So at the time I setup my mobile caravan servicing and Motormover company. In 2004 there were 17 in the country but the standards where really good.
I now find there are more so called mobile caravan engineers than plumbers and they’ve all done the same 5 day crash course!!!!!
You see the advert, “Train and become a caravan engineer”. My god, it’s a worry!!
You see them all over the storage sites & internet with the same old approved by some clown outfit or another.
That’s why I found it so important to be authorised by a proper governing body.
Only use Caravan Club & the Camping & Caravan Club recommended service people!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I set out & maintain everything DR taught me.
Standards & presentaion and try to be the best.
After having a life most people can only dream of.
I find every one of my customers the most enjoyable people on the planet. It’s made my day, I laugh at them but better still.
Laugh with them……….
p.s. Did I ever tell you about the time?????????????????
8th August 2014.
It is with real great sadness that Mike Smith (Smiffy) died.
Mark Ellis, Malcolm Swetnam, Terry Stopps & Myself all worked with Mike & Sarah for a number of years. Mike was a very vunerable but confident man, somebody I would have loved to been. I never heard him bad mouth anyone, totaly down to earth.
A fine outstanding young gentleman.
Our thoughts go out to the medical crew for trying to keep him alive. It really has shocked me and I hate it that Sarah is walking that lonesome road at the moment.