It was at the 2005 Australian Formula One Grand Prix, in Melbourne, that I first met Allan.
I was aware of him, a highly talented Danish professional race car driver, who had abandoned his path to F1, for a sportscar racing around the globe.
He was part of the three car Coopers Racing V8 Ute team – hardly a high tech operation compared to sportscars – but he’d endeared himself to the Chairman of Coopers Brewery, Glenn Cooper over that last few years. Coming off the back of winning the Bahrain GT Festival in the Coopers Ferrari 550 GT1 alongside my friend David Brabham, the son of Sir Jack, a three time F1 champion, Glenn was keen to use him to promote the iconic Adelaide beer brand.
I was also keen to promote the Coopers brand. 2004 had been a quiet year for me after two stellar seasons with Panoz Motor Sports in the American Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Convincing Glenn that I could help his brand gain greater exposure through a website (social media didn’t exist in 2005) was my task and in January 2015 I pitched the idea to him and he agreed. And so HOTLAP became the PR entity for Coopers Racing.
The team was made up of Allan, Jack Elsegood and Ian McAlister.
Jack was a well known and successful NRL player who had turned to V8 Ute racing with significant success. He was the poster boy of the series, frequently seen on eligible bachelor lists. Ian was a Ford dealer from Young, NSW but was part of the original brainstrust of the V8 Ute racing alongside Craig Denyer (father of Grant the TV host), Ross Palmer and Paul Ryan, their PR guy. Ironically Paul I had met and become good friends in 1999, worked together at Panoz and still do to this day. And oddly enough Jack and I have a restaurant together and are investors in a high-tech hybrid engine/transmission operation in Sydney. Small world.
But let’s talk about Allan…
MY DEAREST FRIEND ALLAN SIMONSEN 1978-2013
The only year I didn’t go to the 24 Hours of Le Mans was 2013, mainly because I didn’t have a specific task to do.
Every other year since 2002 I was involved with teams or doing a media gig.
I’m glad I didn’t go, for Allan lost his life, on the 5th lap of the great race, driving the factory Aston Marton Vantage GT, whilst leading. Across the other side of the world, in Adelaide, I was crowding around a small android phone screen, as it was the only was to get the live feed. To witness your best friend die in front of your eyes was the toughest day of my life.
You’ll find Allan’s complete racing history here, created by the pair of us: Allan Simonsen Official Website