Steve O'Rourke

1/10/1940 - 30/10/2003

Record updated 30-Sep-06

Manager of Pink Floyd, he founded EMKA Racing and in 1983 had the EMKA-Aston Martin built specially for Le Mans. Died in Miami in 2003 from a stroke.

Steve O'Rourke
Steve O'Rourke was born at Willesden on October 1 1940. His father, Tommy, had come to London from the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland in 1934, for the premiere of Robert T Flaherty's drama documentary Man of Aran, in which he appeared as a shark hunter. He settled thereafter in north-west London, where his son would be educated.

On leaving school Steve O'Rourke trained in accounting and at one stage took a job selling pet food. (In later years, whenever O'Rourke became involved in arguments with Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, the musician would dismiss O'Rourke's contribution with, "What do you know? You're only a pet-food salesman!")

Steve O'Rourke managed Pink Floyd since 1968 when he was still with the Bryan Morrison Agency. He founded his own companies, EMKA Productions Limited and EMKA Racing; EMKA is from the first letters of Emma and Katherine, his daughters' names.

O'Rourke was also as an enthusiastic gentleman racing driver - a lifelong passion which he shared with the Floyd's drummer Nick Mason and, to a lesser extent, with David Gilmour. He adored Historic racing with cars of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

His ambition to compete in the greatest sports car race of all - the Le Mans 24-Hours classic - was realised in 1979 when he finished a creditable 12th, driving a 190mph Ferrari 512 BB. Having bought the car, he returned to Le Mans in 1980; but after a tyre exploded at nearly 200mph on the Mulsanne Straight, O'Rourke bought the spare tail of a retired sister Ferrari in the pit lane in order to finish. His car completed the race wearing green forward bodywork and a red tail.

In 1981 his EMKA racing team ran a BMW M1 Coupe at Le Mans, with O'Rourke co-driving with David Hobbs and Eddie Jordan - today the head of Jordan F1. O'Rourke left the circuit on the night of the race to oversee a Pink Floyd concert in London, flew back the next morning and jumped straight into the car for another two-hour driving stint.

After coming second in the Silverstone 6-Hours and winning his class in the Brands Hatch 6-Hours, O'Rourke had his own EMKA-Aston Martin built specially for Le Mans in 1983; the next year this exceptionally attractive car briefly led the 24-Hours in the hands of co-driver Tiff Needell, and finished ahead of the works-backed Jaguars, to O'Rourke's great amusement.

In 1991, O'Rourke participated in the Mexican sports car road race La Carrera Panamericana, co-driving with David Gilmour, who was at the wheel when their car went off the road and over a drop-off near San Luis Potpoli, breaking both of Steve's legs.

In 1997 O'Rourke had his greatest racing success, co-driving a McLaren F1 GTR at Le Mans with Tim Sugden and Bill Auberlen to finish fourth overall. Having saved money by refusing the costly update pack for the McLaren, O'Rourke typically spent as much again on a huge party for all concerned in the EMKA team's success.

He competed in the British GT Championship in the 1990s, first with a McLaren F1 GTR, winning the championship in 1997

From 2000 O'Rourke campaigned Porsche cars in the FIA and British GT Championships until he was forced to retire from driving for health reasons; he had presided over the drivers Tim Sugden and Emmanuel Collard as they won in Sicily and Sweden. Porsche responded by offering racing assistance to the EMKA factory for 2004 - a decision which delighted O'Rourke.

Equally highly-regarded in both the music and motor racing worlds, O'Rourke was an active supporter of charities; he was a trustee of The Music Sound Foundation and of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy.

After suffering a fatal stroke, he died in Miami, Florida, on October 30. Steve O'Rourke was twice married, and leaves two daughters and three sons.