Ray Potter, a wonderful warm character, sadly missed

David Ward pays tribute to retired SGMW member Ray Potter, a friend, colleague and fellow SGMW stalwart, for more than 40 years, who has sadly died.

Indefatigable, ace raconteur, amusing, wonderful and warm are my words for summing up Ray Potter whom I have known as a motoring journalist colleague and friend for well over 40 years.

We had driven together and shared cars on press launches all over Europe, North America and elsewhere with many exciting, adventurous (and occasionally mischievous!) expeditions with who I think had been about the best person one could be with driving in such foreign places.

Ray Potter was a great character.

There was certainly never a dull moment and, apart from being an excellent driver (he was of course a noted racing driver in his younger days too), he was simply wonderful to be with and good fun.

Many colleagues will have stories to tell of their own exploits with him… mine include an occasion when driving through the depth of countryside in France somewhere on a Citroen Visa diesel launch way back, and not hanging about as we say, when from nowhere in some remote village out stepped a gendarme to stop us.

Ray got out to speak to the officer as I sat, fearing the worst of him getting a heavy on-the-spot fine or whatever.

After quite some time in discussion, Ray returned to the driving seat smiling and revealed that they had been in a lengthy discussion about various Grand Prix drivers of yesteryear! The officer clearly a motorsport fan like Ray. We drove off somewhat relieved and with a smart salute from the officer and no fine!

On another occasion, somewhere in the wild hills of the Italian Alps, we were driving an Alfa of some sorts when we became hopelessly lost in the middle of nowhere with a road route map that was totally useless (no sat-nav in those days).

We turned a corner and came across a young ‘lady of the night’, as the saying goes, sitting on a stool in a forest layby obviously waiting for daytime customers.

As Ray emerged from the passenger seat to kindly ask her where or what the nearest town/village was, the young lady quickly turned and ran off into the forest never to be seen again!

The tale became folklore among the motoring hacks and I never let Ray, who took it all in good fun, ever forget the incident.

Naturally, after some lengthy time, we did eventually find the coffee stop/lunch stop and it was Ray who passed on the amusing story to colleagues as I deliberately stayed quiet!

Yes, a wonderful warm man who will be sadly missed… RIP Ray and thanks for all those vivid memories!

Our thoughts are with Ray’s wife, Viv, and their family.