At the same time Hall & Oates were approaching the peak of fame in the mid 1980s, John Oates had a burgeoning racing career that had landed him a position with Pontiac in the Fiero GTU. When John got tangled up in a three-car crash during the running of the Lowenbrau Camel GT 500-mile race, he was knocked unconscious, banged up and bruised and left to consider his options. Luckily it was just a matter of getting his bell rung, but nonetheless John chose to follow music and leave nearly a decade of racing behind, but his passion for cars hasn’t waned in the slightest.
It all began when John was growing up outside of Philadelphia when he discovered a box of discarded Road & Track magazines in chronological order spanning half a decade. As a child, he poured over them, absorbing the stories of early European road racing. got his license at age 16. He had learned to drive in a manual-transmission 1964 Renault Dauphine, and it wasn’t long before he and his friends began to test its limits. In a Motor Trend interview from 2008, John describes how he used to pull off the muffler, making the tiny Renault comically loud and taking it to an intersection, cranking the steering wheel to full lock and spinning it circles until the rear wheel lifted off the ground. One can imagine that this is how many a race car driver’s career begins- some innocent troublemaking in a tiny econobox. Later, John was offered the opportunity to drive an English exchange student’s Mini Cooper S in a local rally, and he was hooked.
By the 1970s, John had attended the Bertil Roos Racing School at the Pocono raceway alongside Michael and John Andretti in order to get his SCCA license. He later took race courses at the UK’s most beloved circuit- Brands Hatch in England. Following the natural progression of a prospective race car driver he began racing Formula Ford, and graduated to Sports 2000 and finally to IMSA in the 1980s. Pontiac was the main sponsor of the Hall & Oates tours at the same time the Fiero was released, and through this connection John earned his spot alongside Bob Earl in the Fiero GTU. After a handful of races, the incident at Elkhart occurred and thus ending John’s professional racing career.
Around the same time, Hall & Oates had grown to superstar status and defined the soundtrack of the decade. John began collecting cars in the 1980s, among them a 1956 Speedster, a 1977 930 Turbo Carrera and a 1984 911 Carrera. Recently, John commissioned Rod Emory to craft an Emory Outlaw to commemorate his 70th birthday, as well as re-acquired the special-wishes Pearl White 1984 Carrera that he and his wife Aimee have dubbed the Karma Carrera.
In this video, Cam, Ray and John discuss their fond memories of motorsports, mentors and John’s past and present Porsches.