It is with sadness that Wednesday 11th June, 2008 will be remembered within motorsporting circles as the day that Ove Andersson passed away. While competing in the Milligan classic rally in South Africa, the former Toyota Formula One boss was involved in a head-on collision with a truck. Ove had enjoyed a long career in motorsport, working from both sides of the desk and guiding Toyota’s involvement in motorsport in a variety of categories over the years.
Ove Andersson first came to my attention – as I’m sure many others – when he took up his place on the pit wall for the 2002 Australian Grand Prix. Andersson was the boss of newly formed Toyota F1 team, and although the squad hasn’t performed as well as they should have done, they have remained within one of the most competitive sports known, and enjoyed success on occasion.
However, Andersson was involved in motorsport many years before Toyota launched their Formula One operation, and through his own company, Andersson Motorsport, Ove lauched an impressive assault on the rally championship for the first time with his own Toyota-powered team in 1972. Being a dab hand at driving as well as managing, Ove was mirroring the efforts of some other drivers – Graham Hill perhaps being the most famous – for drivng and running their own team. However, Andersson managed a great deal more success in rallying than Hill did in F1, and it wasn’t long before Toyota brought out the company and rebranded it into Toyota Team Europe.
Remaining under Andersson’s control though, the operation ventured into other motor sports and since the early seventies, Toyota have been held in high regard within the motorsporting community, if not for their occasional controversy. In 2002, the company embarked on their most daring venture in their history – Formula One – and although Ove stepped down from the team principal role relatively early on, his work was mainly forcused on getting the team built and ready for the first season of racing. Although Toyota are yet to achieve any serious result in the sport, their determination and perseverance should be admired.
Ove was an inspiration to our team and to many in motorsport. His passion for motorsport was legendary and he is a great loss to our sport. The thoughts of everyone at Toyota Motorsport are with Ove’s family at this difficult time. Tadashi Yamashina, Chairman of Toyota Motorsport GmbH.
It is also worth mentioning, along with other nice words, that Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock scored the teams first double points finish of the 2008 season last weekend in Montreal. A moment I am sure, would have brought a smile to Ove’s face.
Ove died doing what he loved, his one true love, and for that alone, he will be cherished and missed. Ove Andersson, 1938 – 2008.