PEOPLE: PAUL STODDART
Name: Paul Stoddart
Originally from Coburg in Melbourne, Stoddart started out as a car dealer in Australia. In his spare time he raced touring cars at local level in 1979 and 1980. One day the Royal Australian Air Force asked him if he would would like to buy its fleet of BA1-11 aircraft to sell on. The price was right and so Stoddart bought the planes. There were no buyers and so he decided to put the planes into use and set up an airline, flying wealthy gamblers from the Australian mainland to Tasmania, the only state where gambling was legal at the time.
He quickly realized that the aircraft spares business was a very profitable one and began to buy up BA1-11 spares and aircraft around the world. This led him to move to England and, as the stock of aircraft increased, to set up the new European Aviation, aimed at the VIP charter market. This has grown in size and by 1999 boasted a fleet of 47 aircraft, including two Boeing 747s and 12 737s. These are leased to a variety of other airlines. His spares division has a staff of 100 and operates 24 hours a day.
In 1996 Stoddart's interest in motor racing was rekindled when he bought several F1 cars and, as Tyrrells were easy to get hold of, he acquired 10 of them - some of which are raced in the Boss-sponsored F1 historic series in England. He also owned a Brabham driven by Damon Hill, a 1990 Minardi and a 1989 Benetton. In 1997 he became a sponsor of the Tyrrell team and flew the team to all the European Grands Prix on one of his VIP aircraft. He began to enter his old Tyrrells in the Boss-sponsored Historic Formula 1 Championship and established European Formula Racing to run them. The team won the championship in 1997 and 1998 with driver Nigel Greensall.
Stoddart's relationship with Tyrrell became more of a technical partnership and there were plans for him to build a half-scale rolling-road windtunnel at European Aviation's headquarters at Bournemouth International Airport. The Tyrrell Family, however, decided to sell out to British American Tobacco at the start of 1998, in a move that was to lead to the founding of British American Racing. The old Tyrrell team began to collapse and at the end of the year Stoddart bought most of the Tyrrell equipment and old cars and opened a state-of-the-art headquarters at Ledbury in Gloucestershire. He became a sponsor of the Jordan team in 1999 while at the same time buying the Edenbridge Formula 3000 operation with drivers Oliver Gavin and Jamie Davies.
For the 2000 season Stoddart announced a deal for him to sponsor the Arrows team and for European Racing to become the Arrows Junior Team. He hired Australian driver Mark Webber to drive.
Stoddart had made no secret of his long-term desire to be a Formula 1 team owner himself and the opportunity came when Gabriele Rumi and other shareholders sold him control of Minardi six weeks prior to the start of the 2001 season. The team has struggled through the 2001 and 2002 season although Stoddart has shown his mettle as a survivor and became a leading campaigner for the rights of the teams. At the end of 2005 however he decided to sell the team to Red Bull. Stoddart went back to aviation to open a new airline in Australia called Ozjet.