Monday, 12 September 2011

Chapter 2 – James Richard “Dickie” Stoop

First Race as Mechanic

I first met Dickie Stoop one Friday evening in 1968 at my parent’s house at 175 Beavers Lane, Hounslow, Middlesex.
Ginger was still working at AFN and he had double booked his time for the following weekend. He had agreed to look after a Porsche 906-Carrera 6 for Mike de Udy at a big race meeting at Brands Hatch. This Porsche 906 was one of the 50 produced to Group 4 international racing by the factory (eventually 52 cars being produced with some engine variants) that was actually legal for the road and registered LJJ 16D when imported into Great Britain. Porsche had allocated chassis number 906-101 for this street legal version. However that particular weekend, Ginger had also committed to looking after Dickie Stoop’s racing Porsche 911S, registered as YOU 4, at a club meeting at Silverstone on the same day, so he was in a bind.
One evening Ginger came to me and told me he was in a bind and could I help him out by going with and looking after Dickie’s Porsche 911 at Silverstone? I was reluctant at first and initially told him no, as I did not know what I would be doing on my own. It was one thing helping out, but another actually being responsible for a Porsche 911S racing car and the safety of it’s driver at 16 years old! He said it would be easy and that I could use this as an opportunity to “Prove myself”. I relented and so he made arrangements with Dickie Stoop to pick me up at my parent’s house on the following Friday evening around 6pm. In the interim, I picked Ginger’s brains on what I needed to do at every spare moment we had together and he talked me through the basics. I was a lot more focused after that as I knew things would be down to me with no one on hand to help me that weekend.
Dickie Stoop duly arrived at my parent’s home as arranged, had a friendly chat with my parents as usual over a cup of tea and then we left. I could see he was not a happy man as we quickly drove west along the A30 through Staines, Virginia Water, Blackbushe towards his home in Hampshire. By the time we were passing Virginia Water he eventually asked me, “What is Ginger playing at?” I kept respectfully quiet and then mentioned a while later that I had worked with Ginger on a number of 911 Porsche cars, including GVB and that we would be fine together. Inside I was thinking what if I make a mistake and caused some serious damage to his Porsche 911 or the car became involved in an incident due to something I had done? We travelled on in Dickie’s brand new mustard coloured Porsche 911L Sportomatic that was registered as MAA911F, to his home in Hartley Whitney, Hampshire.
Dickie was a bit of an oddball character, a confirmed bachelor, and lived alone, not far from his parent’s homer, but more of that later. In any event we duly arrived at his magnificent house, which fascinated me because it was so large and it looked empty and pretty untidy, but not dirty. There was 8mm cine equipment and films, with lots of 35mm Canon and other makes of cameras, packs of photographs lying around absolutely everywhere.
I had previously mentioned to Dickie that I knew quite a bit about photography, so this broke the ice and he forgot about Ginger letting him down and so we had something in common to talk about. Later on Dickie took me down to the local pub for a drink and a bite to eat, talking about photography and we subsequently sat up watching his 8mm films he had taken in Kruger National Park in South Africa whilst on safari. 

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