The world of endurance racing is in mourning following the news that FIA GT driver Steve O'Rourke succumbed to the effects of a massive stroke at the end of October.

The EMKA Racing boss, more famously known as the manager of rock group Pink Floyd, had been forced to give up his racing activities after a heart scare earlier in the season, and died in Florida on Friday.

After displaying an interest in historic cars - which he shared with Pink Floyd band members Nick Mason and Dave Gilmour - London-born O'Rourke began racing sportscars seriously in 1979 with a first visit to Le Mans. He finished twelfth overall on that occasion, but a return trip the following year almost cost him his life when a tyre on his Ferrari 512 exploded at speed on the infamous Mulsanne straight. Undeterred by the incident, however, O'Rourke brought the damaged car back to the pits, bought replacement bodywork and continued to compete.

He partnered now F1 boss Eddie Jordan, along with David Hobbs, in a BMW M1 the following season, and later commissioned the EMKA-Aston Martin prototype for use in the 24-hour marathon and other sportscar races. Ironically, it was after the days of Group C had ended that he enjoyed his greatest success at Le Mans, taking the McLaren F1GTR he shared with future GT team-mate Tim Sugden and American Bill Auberlen to fourth place overall.

After that, his outings behind the wheel began to encompass both the national and international GT scene, with the O'Rourke/Sugden EMKA Porsche 911 GT3 a regular fixture at the front of the N-GT field in the FIA series. Again ironically, however, it was after he had been advised to retire from the cockpit that the team achieved the first of several class wins, with Sugden and Martin Short winning at Enna, and Sugden and Emmanuel Collard coming out on top at Anderstorp, leading the Porsche factory to offer works backing to EMKA for 2004.

His 'other' life saw him swap the role of salesman to become manager of one of the biggest music acts of the 20th Century, assuming sole control of Pink Floyd in 1968 and continuing to mastermind their success through the 1970s, '80s and 90s. He founded EMKA Productions in the early 1970s, the brand - named after his daughter Emma Kate - going on to be reflected in his racing activities.

O'Rourke, twice married, leaves five children, and our condolences go to his friends and relatives.

 

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