Carel and Arie - the special story
Carel and faithful mechanic Arie Anssems formed a special bond. And there was something special about Arie as well, says Rob Petersen, as he shares his personal memories of Arie with dB.
Arie and I knew each other since the seventies when Arie became a member of the Rob Slotemaker racing school. Arie had gone back to work as a mechanic at the RIVA dealership in Amsterdam after Carel's fatal accident. In the early eighties Arie became a member of the pre-start grid people behind the pits.
His duty was to put the cars in the correct starting order. In those days we had about 30-35 competitors so the line of cars - staggered two by two - was approximately 200 metres long. In those days Arie earned his nickname of 'The Amplifier'. The last driver on the preliminary grid, even in the car with his helmet on, would hear Arie's instructions, as he shouted across the paddock while smiling!
Arie's birthday was on August 5, mine was on the 6th. That meant that the Formula 3 Masters at Zandvoort took place on his birthday in 1999, so we decided to give him a well-deserved honour on the rostrum. Even the public were singing happy birthday, and as it was in fact the 6th of August I was happy too.
As usual, we went to Mickey’s track-side bar in the evening and talked about Carel and his races. Suddenly Arie became very serious, as every time he wanted to make an important announcement of some sort he would say “Young man”, followed by “Listen to me“. Arie went on to explain all the races he had done with Carel, as he had done many times, only now he told me the exact details about that last racing weekend at the Nürburgring.
Arie fell ill with pneumonia the Wednesday before the race and was unable to travel to Germany. He explained to Carel to be extra careful and check the work the Porsche works mechanics would be doing. That sounds a bit strange but in the Porsche works people's eyes the 718 was an old model and therefore not very interesting. Carel promised to check in at Stuttgart and also promised to call Arie on Saturday evening to tell him all about the practice sessions.
It would be their last conversation. Arie found out late in the evening about the horrible crash when he made a phone call to Maarsbergen castle.
There was a big silence in our conversation after Arie had told this story, tears rolling from his eyes. It was a difficult moment for myself as well. Arie really felt that his absence had been the cause of the accident.
We never again spoke in such detail about that fatal weekend again but when we did speak about Carel there would always be that moment of silence and mutual understanding.
Arie died a few years ago. According to his wishes his ashes were spread out across Tarzan corner at Zandvoort. There were some cars driving around.
The first car that passed after this short ceremony was a Porsche 356… Was that Carel saying goodbye?
Arie Anssems taking care of 718-201 at the Solitudering.