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Racing into his father’s footsteps

Teddy Yip was only one-year-old when his late father’s Theodore Racing team won the first Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix in 1983.

Oak Bay resident Teddy Yip was only one-year-old when his late father’s Theodore Racing team won the first Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix in 1983.

Thirty years later, and after a two-decade absence, Theodore Racing returned and again nabbed the checkered flag – this time under junior’s ownership.

“It was incredible, not only to see the Theodore colours go around that circuit again after 21 years, but the response from the fans was astounding,” Yip said. “For me, this was I guess, a tribute as this is the 60th anniversary of GP3 (Grand Prix 3) itself in Macau; 30 years since Formula 3 started in Macau and 30 years since my father, in 1983, won.”

Theodore Racing was represented by the Prema Powertrain team, with English driver Alex Lynn behind the wheel at the Nov. 17 race. Brazilian Ayrton Senna, who is considered one of the greatest Formula one drivers, won the F3 race in 1983, under the Theodore Racing colours.

Owen McLeod, who has known Yip for more than a decade, described him as being humble, quiet and reserved, with a great sense of humour and just a “really decent guy.” He was in Macau during the Grand Prix and watched Yip’s driver lead the pack and take the win.

“The race was incredibly, very tense,” McLeod said. “You can just feel it.

“Teddy said being in first is the hardest because you can always lose it. You’re always concerned about any kind of mistake or anything going wrong.”

Yip’s father, Teddy Yip Sr., was a popular businessman, well-known for his enthusiasm for racing. He co-founded Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau, which held a monopoly on Macau’s casinos and ferries for almost 40 years. That company is now operated by his former brother-in-law Stanley Ho and his family. The senior Yip was born in Indonesia, held Dutch citizenship, spoke six languages and six Chinese dialects. He raced in the 1950s and 60s before establishing Theodore Racing. He is regarded as the father of the Macau Grand Prix and a tribute to him is set up at the Macau Grand Prix Museum.

“My dad was attending the Indianapolis 500 when I was born,” Yip said.

Even though he grew up surrounded by racing, Yip never thought he would get involved himself.

“As a child I was being groomed to be a lawyer or a doctor. I did some carting when I was 10 but I was never all that fast. It was only a hobby for a bit.”

Yip ran a fitness studio, a spa and dabbled in real estate in Victoria and Vancouver. Then in 2008, he received a call from one of his dad’s old racing buddies, asking him to get involved in the sport.

“Here was an opportunity to join and that’s what I did,” Yip said.

Yip joined Status Grand Prix in an ownership and management role. The group represented Team Ireland in the A1 Grand Prix racing series and placed first in the 2008-09 season, which is also when A1 folded. He and his partners then joined the Formula 3 series where they have been competing since. Yip expressed interest in moving into F1 one day, something his dad did between the late 1970s and early 1980s.

“Absolutely, it just costs a lot of money,” Yip said. “But I enjoy competing at this level and working with the young drivers.”

Yip is well-suited to managing the racing team, said McLeod, a server at the Village Restaurant. Yip worked as a busboy at the Village but it only lasted one day.

“He didn’t do very well,” McLeod said with a laugh. “He was slow.”

Yip’s father never got to see his son’s foray into racing and although he didn’t become a doctor or lawyer, he’s sure his dad would still be proud.

“I think he would be glad that I’m not driving,” Yip said. “It’s inherently dangerous.”

Oak Bay connections

Teddy Yip was born in La Jolla, Calif., and spent his first six years growing up in Hong Kong before moving to London. He has six half-siblings, two of whom are now grandparents.

Yip’s father died in 2003 at 96. His mother, Beverly Clark, is from Nova Scotia and the family would visit Whistler twice a year to ski.

In 2001, he visited friends in Victoria, loved the city and decided to base himself in Oak Bay.