INTRO TO ANDY PITT
I arrive early to the interview to make sure I can neck my obligatory morning coffee and get my notes in order. I’m a good twenty minutes early at least, so I get comfortable and revise my question list, jotting down little notes to myself in the margins of my notepad and reciting the words under my breath because I’m not the only person in the coffee house.
Not two minutes in, the coffee house door opens up and from across the room I hear a booming, happy voice. “Donnie! How are you?”
Andy Pitt, the subject of my interview, walks in. He’s a tall man even by my standards, with a wide smile that is always lingering around the corners of his mouth, ready to spring into action faster than a quick-draw gunfighter. We quickly shake hands before he rapidly circles the room shaking hands and saying hello to a number of people sitting down having coffee, who noticed him the moment he walked in and wanted to say hello.
After speaking quickly with each of them (I notice he recalls each of their names instantly), he joins me at our corner table.
“You’re early!” he declares. “I wanted to be early.”
“I wanted to get my notes ready,” I admitted. “Why are you early?”
“The same!” he says, smiling. “But I think I’m ready for the interview. I’ve been looking forward to it.”
Andy Pitt, the managing director of the Norwich-based recruitment firm Service Service, is to many people a bit of a hero. The job market is going through a bit of a shake-up at the moment and unfortunately some people have fallen through the cracks, and few recruiters are willing to fight for the little guy.
This interview is about a different fight, however. And for this particular challenge this local hero gets to drive his car.
“My friend Brian Bush and myself are participating in the Fireball Rally James Bond Swiss Run, between 6th and 10th September,” he explains. “Two thousand miles across eight different European countries, all connected to various James Bond movies.”
“You’re a fan of James Bond films?” I ask.
“Oh yes, absolutely,” he says solemnly. “They’re my favourite films. I love the idea of being a gentleman spy and driving really awesome unique cars.”
Brilliant, I think. Great choice of movies.
“What are you guys driving?”
“My Tangerine Dream, an orange 1968 Mustang.”
Brilliant, great choice of cars too.
“Who’s your favourite James Bond?”
“So which countries are you travelling through?” I ask quickly.
THE ADVENTURE AND CHALLENGE
The Fireball Rally, Andy explains, is open to anyone wanting to drive it, a great opportunity to have an excuse to drive long hours, see amazing sites and say you’ve done something unique and great. He reveals that it will involve all sorts of cars and many different people travelling through France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy, Austria, Germany and Luxembourg. These are all European countries that have not only featured in James Bond films, but also feature roads that his amazing cars have been seen, racing along, shooting, exploding and ejecting people.
“It’s going to be hair-raising,” he says. “We’ll be covering 2,000 miles in a car with a V8 engine, designed for flat, straight American Roads. It rattles your brain, stinks of petrol and doesn’t have a radio. And me and Brian, my co-pilot, are going to have to cover it all in four days.”
That’s at least 500 miles a day, and it seems the only advantage that Andy and Brian will have is that his American beast already has the steering wheel on that side of the road!
“That doesn’t help,” he reveals however. “I’ve gotten so used to driving a left hand side car on the wrong roads that if I’m driving on the right hand side of the road I really struggle.”
The obvious question is why is he doing it then? Surely there are easier ways to enjoy owning a 1968 Mustang. It’s a beautiful car, but this is a hardcore challenge, 2000 miles in four days is a marathon, and Andy and Brian are not exactly twenty-year-olds.
“I love it,” he explains, simply. “I love that noisy old wreck and challenges like this bring out the best in me. And, I have a really important reason to be doing it as well.
Andy and Brian are raising money for two very special causes. The Alzheimer’s Society, a group dedicated to researching new ways of treating this debilitating disease. The Alzheimer’s Society provides vital research in treating the disease and, hopefully, one day finding a cure. In the more immediate here and now, they provide carers and sufferers support, help, side-by-side friendship from volunteers to allow independence for both carer and the cared for, as well as a network of like-minded people to speak with. Having seen what this disease can do to a man, Andy simply wants to do his bit to raise awareness and funds.
Brian is raising money for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) after being hit with Type1 Diabetes himself 2 years ago.
Andy is already prominent on social media, setting the task for himself and his staff at Service Service to update Facebook and LinkedIN at least twice a day. With new developments in terms of the website and a new Youtube channel, he sees this increasing dramatically and not slowing down while he is away.
“I’m only going to be away for four days,” he explains. “However, they will be quite full on, and on the hours when I’m not driving and when I have signal I’m going to be making sure to keep everyone updated.”
It’s going to happen anyway because Andy’s only love isn’t just beautiful but uncomfortable cars, but also photography, and in some circles he’s better known for this. Considering the number of majestic views, interesting sites, cities, places and landscapes that he and Brian will be driving through, it could be a regular thing for them to have to stop so he can snap some amazing pictures that will be destined for his social media pages, Super70Photography.
“It’s one of those cherished hobbies that I think I’ve gotten pretty good at over the years,” Andy testifies. “If you love something you get better at it.”
Deeply atmospheric, with each image capturing a story and a moment, Andy’s passion sees him rising at 3am in the morning to beat the sunrise, travelling to far off places on the weekends because of a photographic idea he has, or dragging certain interviewers out onto the rooftops of Norwich for some snapshots with his favourite city behind him. It also seems to be a touch of a family tradition, because he was brought up in the environment of having his own father as an avid photographer.
“Since birth I had either an SLR or a Cine Camera shoved in my face, so it was only a matter of time until I caught the bug. I started off when I was little, wandering around car shows with my Dad taking pictures of the hot-rods and classics and it just kind of grew from there.”
As a kid, Andy used a little 110 film camera before progressing into Olympus 35mm film cameras. He uses Canon 5D cameras with a selection of L Series lenses and he’s going to get an Olympus Pen as a daily shooter, something a bit more compact but still impactive.
I enquired if he had any photographer heroes that he followed or gained inspiration and motivation from. “There are so many talented photographers making impressions today, it’s hard to have just one favourite. I don’t have a hero, but while I am not much of a Springsteen fan, I really admire the work of Jo Lopez, who is one of Springsteen’s go-to photographers. He manages to capture the shots of Springsteen on stage with such depth and emotion you can practically hear the music playing and the crowd cheering.”
Andy’s Instagram account is more focused on his photography, and some of his peers that he appreciates are the likes of Amy Shore, Rob Cooper and Peter Aylward, who all happen to be automotive photographers.
“There are excellent photographers in every field, but it is the automotive that I tend to lean towards in my free time.”
To keep an eye on what sort of automotive photography is going to be popping up during his rally challenge, make sure to follow Andy’s Instagram between 6th and 10th September. The only thing he is going to be doing for 4 days are driving and taking photographs. And singing probably, because his Tangerine Dream doesn’t have a radio!