We are saddened to learn of the passing of the co-owner/driver of one of the last true privateer endurance racing teams who took on the factory teams at some of the biggest races, with virtually no factory support or sponsorship, yet gained a podium placing in their one and only visit to the Le Mans 24 Hours, amongst other notable performances in a short endurance history.
Dave Robertson was initially an aviation pilot, and it was through this connection that he would meet his future wife Andrea, who worked in flight control, in 1993.
In 1999, at the age of 43, he decided to try his hand at motor racing, encouraging his partner to do likewise, and they started on the motorsport ladder at local SCCA level with some success. From there, invitations were extended to attend support races at Sebring, and eventually they decided to enter the American Le Mans Series in 2007.
They turned professional at this time, forming their own team, Robertson Racing, as co-owners, and selected the Panoz Esparante as their choice of car. Their first ALMS race was at the Sebring 12 hours with Arie Luyendyk alongside, before subsequently linking up with David Murry to form a highly successful trio over the next four years.
After an unsuccessful first ALMS season because of much unreliability with the Panoz, they returned the following season with a Doran built Ford GT, and while the results often did not go their way, they became very much a "fan favourite" with their open policy of sharing much of their story with the fans in their "David versus Goliath" approach to racing.
After also competing in the 2009 Asian Le Mans series alongside their ALMS commitments, they would eventually get an entry accepted to attend the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours with their trusty Ford, and achieved a splendid third place in the GTE-AM category on what was also the seventh wedding anniversary. Indeed, they marked one of the pitstop driver changes by David passing a rose to his wife after she completed one of her driver stints!
In achieving this result, they were both the first ever husband and wife team to stand together on the Le Mans podium, with Andrea also the first female to do so since 1931. In an interview at the time, Dave remarked, "We were not the fastest, and I know we have a lot of progress to make, but if the team could work together and have a mistake-free run I always believed this was feasible. We just kept going for 24 hours."
At the end of 2011, they retired both the car and themselves from endurance racing, but continued to race at prodigious events across America, and also took an invitation to show the car at the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed. They were also involved in creating the Superlite and Race Car Replicas car brands of specialist cars.
Our condolences go to Andrea at this sad time.
Text: Steve Tarrant
Photos: Steve Tarrant and Robertson Motorsport (Facebook)