Interview with Ovidiu Scobai, multiple rally champion

“My soul stays close to Dacia”

Interview with Ovidiu Scobai, multiple rally champion, who retired this month from Dacia, after a 41-year activity.

1.Where did you get this passion for motor sport competitions?
In Brasov there were annual motorcycle competitions, and then later, of motor sport. I have enjoyed the races ever since I was a kid, and my violin teacher was a famous driver, member of the Calcianu team, a reference name in the field. This is how I got in contact with the technical subjects, especially those related to races, since as any kid at that time I loved the technical subjects because of the races. Thus, after graduating from university, I chose to work for the car plant.

2.How does music get along with motor sport?
I attended the Music school, and among my colleagues – to give only two important names – there were Cristian Mandeal and Horia Andreescu. I got along well with Cristian Mandeal; we were good friends. Later on, I also discovered the sports. I “stayed tuned” to music and sports at the same time. Music is adrenalin and sport, especially the motor sport is too.

3.Do you have a role model when it comes to music? What about sport competitions? A favorite race driver or a composer/musician that you admire?
First of all, my colleague, my friend for good and for worse, Cristian Mandeal. We complemented each other perfectly. Out of musicians, I liked Celibidache the most. When it came to instruments, I started with the piano, I went on studying the violin from the 4th form to the 7th and then, up to the end of high school years the upright bass. And in sport, I kept on changing my reference points according to what my needs were.

4.The most touching memory related to the competitions you took part in?
It’s difficult to say… Still, I have to admit, that the most touching and out of the ordinary experience was when we won the Portugal leg of the world championship in 1985 – it was the longest sensation of joy I have ever had when luckily I got similar results. There were also disappointments, but they were less numerous.
Another special moment, but completely different was in Algeria, for the 1984 championship: desert, different kinds of people, even the event was sportive-commercial.

5.You were saying that you had luck and friends. Who were the people who supported you in the motor sport competitions?
In a chronological order, out of the people who were close to me was Olteanu who died in 1981 in an accident, and Stefan Vasile.
And as “work friends”: Zarnescu, Grigoras, Belu. They were my colleagues, but more than colleagues, since one cannot have high performance without friendship.

6.How was it to be a race driver before ’89? And then after ’89, until you got retired?
There were more opportunities after ’89, but it was much more exciting before the revolution, since as it happens when you are not allowed to do something and you still succeed, you are much more satisfied then when you are allowed to do that thing. Until ‘89 one was not allowed to leave the country… We became “actors on a stage” and thus we could leave the country, when others could not.

7.You were involved in the Dacia Nova project. Was it an adventure or a chance?
In 1995, we prepared the car, as we say, in order to be marketed. Constantin Stroe offered me that opportunity: the “car preparation” , marketing and  commercialization was a real adventure. From the moment when the prototype was ready until the car could be marketed it was tough work. In terms of car conception, it was indeed an avant-garde project. Everything was a challenge, the launching project for ’95 was very ambitious, but it is still true that “If you really want to succeed, you can do it!”

8.How that you stayed faithful to Dacia during all these competition years? How come that you remained at Dacia during all these years of changes?
Isn’t life itself a challenge? Dacia remains a challenge, and even if I retire this does not mean that my soul won’t stay close to Dacia. I like to be faithful to my first love during my entire life.

9.What was you activity at the Reliability and Incidentology Direction?
My work meant setting up a network of 1st level analysis, namely conformity analysis, in the manufacturing area. The manufacturing should work according to standards, and the 1st level network means an entire team of analysts who monitor whether the manufacturing activity respects the standards.
Then we set up a 2nd level network – namely problem understanding by engineers and suppliers’ engineers; I tried to develop know how in the field, because a well carried out analysis means that problems are half solved.
Moreover, I have been working with Renault Technologie Roumanie from its very beginning; I delivered training courses at Bucarest on the analysis of defaults and their consequences – a mandatory procedure when designing cars.

10.How did this profession get along with your passion for music and races?
Willy-nilly, they have something in common! In life, it’s important to do what you like and I generally did what I liked.

11.What kind of music do you listen to when you drive?
It depends on the mood: symphonic music and… for long distances country music. It relaxes me. But generally I listen to music, and not to noise.

12.Alain Prost drove the Duster Ice at the Andros Trophy. What about a “duel” with the master?
Handball, football, basketball – in all these sports there is a round ball, but they are completely different. What Alain Prost does is completely different from what I did. I tried to have fun, and at the same time to do my job.

13.What model of the Dacia range would you be tempted to drive in a competition?
The only one available – it’s made on special order in Bucharest, 16 valves! Passion and talent make the difference when the cars are equal in terms of performance. In the new range, Duster is a challenge. We even have a colleague from Dacia, Marin Marian, who had good results at Transylvania Trophy.