Peter Burrows has very much followed in the sizeable footsteps of his father. Douglas Burrows was a stockbroker and philanthropist, known for his service to the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children (Westmead.) Peter, also a stockbroker and financial advisor, has filled numerous charitable roles, including Treasurer of the Royal Alexandra Hospital.
PETER Burrows AO has made his mark across several areas of Australian society.
His financial acumen and hard work have brought huge benefit to universities, charities, hospitals and the arts, as much as to the individuals and institutions whose portfolios he skilfully manages.
What’s this got to do with Wheelstories?
Well, we’ve also pretty much got Burrows to thank for introducing track days to Australia.
Burrows, 70, has been smitten with Ferraris since 1975. “My uncle, Bill Burrows had driven at Bathurst as a young man and he finally got enough money to buy himself a brand-new Dino in 1975. It arrived in a pine box on the wharf; Bill kept the box as well!
“At that stage I was probably driving a Honda Civic, but fortune smiled and I eventually bought my first Ferrari, a 308 Dino.”
Burrows has since owned more than a dozen Ferraris and currently has a 458 and a 599. All have been daily drivers. “I remember taking one of the 3-series into the dealers … the clutch had let go. They said, no-one in Australia has done those sort of miles before – maybe this is just where the clutch lets go!
“I think you should use your cars. Driving mine every day is what I’ve always wanted to do and have always done.”
Burrows admits he strayed once from his Maranello romance. “I bought an Aston V8 Vantage, had that for about a year. That wasn’t a mistake, but it was disappointing on the track … The track’s always been the ultimate judgement of these cars for me.”
Ah, the Burrows Drive Days – invitationonly events for serious car buffs, run at circuits in Sydney and Melbourne for the past 15 or so years by automotive misterfixit, Luke O’Neill. Burrows himself initiated the concept in 1990, when he privately hired Sydney Motorsports Park to host a day for clients and friends.
“Rather than do a golf day or tennis day, I thought, bugger that – I’m not that keen on golf or tennis,” he laughs. “They became bigger and bigger and I started charging people.”
O’Neill, employed as Burrows’ personal trainer, was by then also hooked on the exotic car scene and suggested he could take over (from Burrows’ overburdened personal assistant) the organisation of the track days.
“I said I want it to be modelled on the English track days, I want Sydney to have something like that, and Luke made the Burrows Drive Days what they are now,” Burrows says. “I never wanted to make any money out of it, I just wanted it to exist as a resource because nobody else was doing anything about it.
“Seeing people driving home with a grin on their face, driving better than before, has always been a great satisfaction.”
As for Burrows’ current leanings, we wondered if he’s in the queue for a 488? The serial Ferrari owner cheerfully admits he recently track-tested the current 3.9-litre twin-turbo car: “It’s quicker than my 458, with superb handling, incredibly quick … but it doesn’t make all that wonderful noise. I’m a hoon at heart and noise is a part of that experience.”