Dr. Ulrich Bez, the German born Chairman and CEO of Aston Martin since 2000 has had one hell of a career. First getting his doctorate at the University of Stuttgart, then going on to be in charge of R&D for Porsche, creating cars like the 911 Turbo, Carrera 2.7 RS, 968, and the 993 911. Then it was off to BMW to be the first head of BMW Technik GmbH, or BMW Technology, which was originally involved with creating the oddly iconic BMW Z1. He was even the VP of engineering for Daewoo, before being snatched up by Ford to become a business adviser, and then CEO of Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd.
All the while he was a racing guy. A professional racing driver of sorts, currently a driver for Aston Martin’s 24 Hours of Nürburgring efforts in GT and LMP1 classes.
Another CEO that holds a certain prowess for motorsport is current Toyota Motor Company Chairman and CEO, Akio Toyoda. Toyoda, the grandson of company founder, Kiichiro Toyoda, and son of former Chairman and CEO, Shoichiro Toyoda, was not originally a racing driver, or much of a racing guy, from what I can tell. He originally started working for TMC (Toyota Motor Company) in 1984, and was elected to the board of directors in 2000, only to become the Executive Vice President in 2005, and CEO in 2009. But it wasn’t until Mr. Toyoda met and started hanging around with Toyota chief test engineer and driver Hiromu Naruse, otherwise known as Nur Meister (One and Only Master Craftsman).
It was through Akio Toyoda’s relationship with Hiromu Naruse that he began to learn the importance of every car’s ability on the race track, not necessarily to become the fastest thing out there, but to just be a good driving car down to its soul. Having taught Mr. Toyoda all of his driving skills, and getting him to race for Toyota, Akio has become a proficient racing talent and spokesperson for Toyota Motorsports.
This is where we finally come to the point of this article. Aston Martin and Toyota put the other’s CEO in their car in a season race at the Nürburgring. Akio Toyoda drove the Aston Martin V12 Zagato, called Zig, and Dr. Ulrich Bez piloting the Lexus LF-A race car.
Take a look at the video below to see how interesting and cool this actually is. I think more car company CEOs should do this instead of playing golf or meeting at auto shows.