Want to be a racing driver? Oli Cable can help. As team principal at Pursuit Racing, he runs a wide range of historic racing cars for private clients, dedicating his time to make both cars and drivers as fast as possible.
Picture historic motorsport, and you probably picture tweed caps, mechanics in oil-stained white overalls, and drivers sawing at big wooden steering wheels as they pedal through bends on skinny cross-ply tyres.
In recent years, though, the definition has expanded. Almost as soon as a race car comes to the end of its racing programme (or the regulations it was built to become obsolete), it becomes, in theory, a historic racer. This is why some of the leading historic racing organisers around the world now run championships for GT and prototype cars from as recently as 2018.
This fresh approach to historic racing requires fresh people to help oversee it. This is where outfits like Pursuit Racing excel. Established in 2020, the company operates from a gleaming, state-of-the-art facility in Bicester, Oxfordshire. There’s a clubhouse, a huge mural above the shop floor, and an enormous lift that allows cars to be transported between floors – a world away from the grimy, oil-soaked workshops of old.
It’s all overseen by team principal Oli Cable, who founded the team off the back of an impressive CV in the world of motorsport. From an apprenticeship with historic outfit John Danby Racing, to two spells at racing and restoration specialists Lanzante, to leading Grasser Racing Team’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 to overall victory in the 2017 Blancpain GT Series, he started Pursuit with a wealth of experience in running cars from numerous classes and eras.
“We’re bringing a modern approach to historic racing,” says Oli. “My background’s more in the modern machinery but I’ve been picking up both aspects throughout my career. We’re running it in the way a modern team would be run, so we focus a lot on driver development as well as the cars.”
This is why their facility also includes, in its own dedicated room, an incredibly high-end racing simulator with hundreds of tracks and cars plumbed in for drivers to practice on. “It’s those small gains that make a big difference,” says Oli. “You can spend loads of money building and developing a car, but you tend to find way more time in the clients than in the cars.”
Those clients entrust Pursuit with the care of a huge variety of machinery from across the decades, from Goodwood Revival staples like AC Cobras and Ford GT40s to full wings-and-slicks GT cars and Le Mans Prototypes, such as the Epsilon LMP1 car. “[The variety] is a great thing. Our guys have done a bit everything, so we have the ability to work on such a wide range of cars.”
As team principal, Oli’s involved with the entire operation. “It’s literally a bit of every role in the business. I’m not really on the cars that much anymore, but I try to do my bit here and there. I also go away with the cars to the events, look after clients, oversee the running of the weekend.”
Though there’s a lot of hard graft involved, a role like this will always have its glamorous aspects, such as the opportunities to get out to some of the marquee events on the historic calendar. Oli has a few firm favourites. “Le Mans Classic is always a good one. It’s a challenging meeting for the team, the drivers, the cars – everything’s put to the test. I think that’s where you really show what you’re capable of. The Spa Six Hours is the longest race on the calendar – it’s always an achievement to get to the end, which we’ve done the last two years in a GT40. Then there’s the Goodwood Revival – so different to any other race, a good atmosphere and very competitive.”
At its heart, though, Oli still enjoys his chances to get involved with the physical part of the operations the most. “Some of the problems we come up against aren’t the easiest to solve, certainly with some of the modern cars. The problem solving and the engineering behind the cars is really enjoyable. The modern stuff is really cool to run. It’s quite a new thing – I don’t think there are many people out there running it compared to the older stuff.”
Though still a young team, Pursuit is growing exponentially. “There’s lots going on [for 2023] – we’ve got some Aston Martin Vantages that we’re building, and we’re coming to the end of finishing another prototype after the Epsilon LMP1 that we finished last year.”
Pursuit has quickly become a standard bearer in a new breed of historic racing outfits that avoid the overly literal definition of that term. By using his industry experience across so many different eras of car, Oli has built something that, in many ways, operates just as a team running brand new machinery would. The facilities, the operations, the attitude – all of it is emblematic of a bright future for classic motorsport. It’s just the cars that are rooted in the past.