We last heard from Los Angeles philanthropist and investor Stanley Gold when he joined with the Roy Disney family last year in an attempt to buy the Dodgers. They didn't get the team, of course. But Gold has more adventurous plans for this baseball season than writing checks to Clayton Kershaw and keeping the buffet stocked for Tommy Lasorda. Next month, Gold plans to drive — race, actually — from Beijing to Paris. That's 12,000 hard kilometers, much of it off-road — think the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and the steppes of Genghis Khan. And we're not talking a Land Rover or even a Subaru. Gold will be behind the wheel of a 1965 Porsche 911. "Most people know that I’m a Porsche man," he tells an interviewer in the Jewish Journal.
Excerpt of the interview:
It’s not the ideal car because, as anybody knows, Porsches are built very low to the ground and have a very low center of gravity, and you go off-road through streams and rivers and difficult terrain. But we’ve jacked the car up about as high as you can; we got big tires on it; we’ve stiffened the car and so we think we can do it. There are several other Porsches -- I think three or four more in the race with us -- so we’re not alone in trying. I’m hoping for the best.
Q: So who is the team? Who are you racing against? And what’s your biggest concern?
GOLD: Ah, the biggest concern. The biggest concern of all is the condition the car. You’ve got to know that this, in my case, is a 45, almost 50-year-old car, so you always are concerned that something will happen with the car. So you’ve got to take care of the car. You cant horse it around, you can’t win this race on the first day out – you’ve got to do it over a period of time [so] it’s important to take care of the car. We’re going to have a lot of fun. There are, I think, 95 cars at the start, many of them are pre-World War II cars. In some cases, believe it or not, some guys are driving pre-World War I cars! Actually, I think the earliest is from 1917, so just right at the end of the war. Now, it is a test of man and machine. The original race was run in 1907, it was won by an Italian prince driving something called “The Itala” and it took him 60 days to get from Peking to Paris. We’re looking to do it in about 33 days, if we can hold it all together.
Q: What is the most difficult terrain that you’ll be encountering?
GOLD: I haven’t done it, so it’s a bit of a guess, but I’ve looked pretty carefully at some maps and some films that we made about it. It’s Mongolia – there are just no roads. Once you’re out of the capital city of Ulaan Baatar, there are no roads. So if we leave Peking then, by the second or third day we’re already into the Gobi desert and if we catch a sandstorm or soft sand in the desert, then it’s going to be difficult. And then, after we get to Ulaan Baatar, we head west across the steppes of Mongolia, where Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan were, and there’s just no roads. There are camel trails, there are goat trails, and you sort of follow them. You’ve got to navigate with a GPS. There is just nothing out there for the most part until you get to the Russian border.
Photo: Shamrock Racing