One among the most famous and prestigious drivers from that time is undoubtely Paranoïd Perry. I struggled to obtain this interview but he finally set up an appointment at his chalet in Switzerland where he now lives.
58072 Avante (1988)
Note from the author: when I reach the domain with my Subaru Brat, two dobermans dogs follow me from the entry to the door. Perry comes out to welcome me, glances around, and leads me to his office. The room decoration is modern design with many trophies and photos of himself on podiums or racing. Dressed with a Lacoste polo shirt and beige cotton trousers, he is rather small with his 1.65m height. He keeps on fingering his brown hair and wriggling his skinny shoulders.
Good morning Mister Perry, thank you for granting us time to speak and answer some questions from your fans.
M. Perry : Mr. Perry : You are welcome, this is part of my job as a driver.
Could you introduce yourself?
Mr. Perry : Sure! I was born in Lausanne, my father was a banker and my mother was secretary in a private hospital. After college, I studied in a prestigious engineer university in France.
While studying, I was driving buggies as a hobby. I was also driving in official races for fun but I already often won against professional drivers.
When did you join the Avante project?
Mr. Perry : I was 24 years old and I had just graduated my engineering degree. However, my career is far from being reduced to the Avante project. I already had won many national and international championships before I started helping the people from Tamiya with the Avante. But this is when I became a professional driver.
What did you bring to Tamiya?
Mr. Perry : Without exagerating, I believe that the Avante could not have existed without Perry. I am the one who imposed the use of carbon. I am the one who designed the suspension system and I am the one who required the use of the Technigold motor. A French guy who is one of the best engineers in the world is about to publish a technical article about my car. I have no doubt he will glorify my work.
Yet, results in official races never were to the top...
Mr. Perry : Hmm...
I was expecting this comment. First, be aware that I was the one chosen for this project among almost one hundred drivers. Among them, the promising Albert Attaboy who remained stuck in Baja Buggy races, Evert Edwards who had relatives working at Tamiya and who couldn't get more than the Vanquish. Even Greg Martin, who was popular thanks to the Hornet, was in the list. The most pathetic of all was undoubtely Ricky Roop.
You mean "Shakey" Roop? Rumors on internet say he performed better lap times than your with the Avante during the first practice sessions?
Mr. Perry : Lies! That driver came from nowhere was also frustrated and spent more efforts in criticizing his car than performing good laps. He had no experience in 4WD driving and he had several serious crashes, especially the one at the "Bowling across the street" car park. On my side, I always refused to join this kind of meetings. To end with this, he was mixing private life and racing: I guess this was a mistake for his career.
As for the lack of results in official races, it is obvious that someone was doing its best to prevent the Avante from winning. I always believed the Avante had suffered sabotage from other teams or drivers. I am still investigating for evidences proving that parts were manufactured with lower standards in order to make the car more fragile. I can't say too much about this yet because walls have ears. Nobody believes me but some day... yes, some day I'll prove it.
What are your current projects?
Mr. Perry : This was unexpected but Tamiya recently called me back to participate to exhibition races. No more official race though, even if I'm sure I would win. Doing this, Tamiya offered a wonderful present to my fans worldwide: then now all can admire my driving skills and the Avante technology.
Thank you Mister Perry for the time you spent with us.
Note from the author: he drives me out and have a perplex look over my car before letting me go. I look in the mirror while waiting at the gate and wave the hand through the sun roof to salute. No sign of answer.