Steve O'Rourke

Born:
1st October 1940
Willesden, London
Died:
30th October 2003 (Aged 63)
Miami, Florida (USA)
Nationality:
British
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

When Syd Barrett left Pink Floyd in 1968 his creative leadership may have been replaced by Dave Gilmour and Roger Waters but it was Steve O’Rourke who was hired to manage their business affairs. It was a relationship that would last for the remainder of O’Rourke’s life as he helped establish the band as icons and earn a fortune in the process. Not bad for an accountant who started his working life selling pet food.

Endurance racing

O’Rourke also enjoyed a parallel life in motor racing as a gentleman driver and entrant. Those efforts were largely focused on the Le Mans 24 Hours which he started on eight occasions.

Twelfth on his debut in 1979 with a Ferrari 512BB owned by "Beurlys", he returned a year later with a similar car entered by his own EMKA Racing team. The name was the same as his record business and was derived from his daughter’s given names (Emma Katheryne). That 1980 appearance included a 200mph puncture on the Mulsanne Straight but they still finished with rear bodywork borrowed from a sister car.

EMKA entered an IMSA GTX-class BMW M1 in the 1981 World Sportscar Championship and O’Rourke enjoyed the outstanding result of his career at Silverstone. 22nd during the early stages, Derek Bell and David Hobbs were instrumental as they recovered to finish second.

British Formula 1

O’Rourke bought an ex-Alan Jones Williams FW07-Ford in 1982 for a diversion into single-seaters and the poorly supported British F1 Championship – third on his debut at Thruxton was achieved against just six rivals. He returned to Le Mans in 1983 with his own EMKA C2-Aston Martin and co-driver Tiff Needell briefly led the race.

British GTs and historic racing

Inactive for a time, O’Rourke raced in British GTs in 1991 and increasingly in historic racing. But a crash driving a Jaguar C-type during that year’s Carrera Panamericana left him with a broken leg. As the decade progressed O’Rourke twice won the class title in the national GT series with EMKA Porsches.

Fourth at Le Mans

He returned to Le Mans but failed to qualify a GT2 Porsche in 1997 before enjoying his greatest success a year later. He joined Tim Sugden and Bill Auberlen for the 1998 Le Mans 24 Hours and their Gulf McLaren F1-GTR-BMW was fourth behind works cars.

That was a last hurrah for O’Rourke the driver as failing health forced him to retire and concentrate on managing his main company. He suffered a stroke in 2003 and died before he could see Pink Floyd’s acclaimed performance at Live Eight.