The following letter posted at request of a fellow friend of mine...
For many of us getting to know a person well means spending a lot of time with him/her, constant communication, or knowing friends and the company he/she keeps. There are some people you wished you knew better, spent more time with, or just kept closer contact with. Usually when the person is famous, or usually very busy, or far away- it just becomes impossible. The brief encounters become so more important and memorable.
I first met Ove briefly in a visit at TRD in Japan in the mid 70’s. Since he was there briefly to discuss development of the 152E engines- there was no time to talk: just a quick introduction. Next time I met him was a decade later in 1987 at the WRC-sanctioned Olympus Rally in Washington. I had entered a Toysport Corolla GTS and TTE brought the Supras. (This was after Group B was cancelled, and the Supra was the Celica interim successor.) The last time I met him was August (2007)- at the Toyota sponsored Race of Legends.
I have been in sporadic contact with him through the years- specially when the Group B Celicas were being campaigned; thru the years of the Celica 4WD Turbos; and finally when the WRC Corolla campaign was disbanded. (Through Toyota Tsusho- we tried to purchase the whole program.) He had extended several invitations to come visit.
When TTE became Toyota Motorsport GMBH- I had sent Ove an e-mail “Thanks for bringing Toyota to F1- this is a great gift to all Toyota enthusiasts!” He never responded- but I received a big package from the Team. In 2005- I managed to get myself inside the Toyota F1 factory. After a private tour- I asked how to get in-touch with Ove, but no one could give me any contact info.
At Monterey, the drivers participating in the Toyota Race of Legends had an autograph session. From a distance I was watching Ove. After all the fans had paraded by- Ove stood up and walked straight towards me. “Joel?” I was surprised he remembered me. “Just wait here, we need to talk’- he had to do a “pit stop”. I was floored he remembered me. I was so anxious and nervous waiting for him.
To break the ice I said- “You did not do too good out there in the race….” And his reply- “yes, I miss the clouds of dust….” (During the race he went off-course several times.) “You never visited Cologne.” “Yes I did,, but no one would give me your contact information”. “I will fix that” and he wiped out a calling card and wrote all his personal contact info. There no more excuses”. We were able to talk for a few minute- until all the drivers were herded back into a shuttle bus by some Toyota PR for another engagement.
It was all to brief, and we promised to keep closer contact. “I am retiring to South Africa- we will catch up when I am settled there!”
The conversation was so brief. Why did he remember me? “You sent the whole team Pizza, a lot of Pizzza- in the middle of the night, when we were all so hungry!!!” What did I ask from him? “I need any literature, notes, whatever of the whole WRC program.” “When I move- I will box a lot of stuff for you” “And for sure I will come visit you.”
I will visit Ove someday- in the land he loved.
Founder/ Administrator Club4AG