Curt Rich has been selling Mercedes at Star Motor Cars in Houston, Texas since July 1, 1981. Along the way he has won numerous awards in addition to making a living. For example he won a nationwide contest among Mercedes-Benz sales professionals on product knowledge. The contest involved several levels of competition culminating with a game show at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Winning involved a sudden-death playoff between Curt and another contestant after tying through the regular competition.
He started doing Curt's Newsletter in 1983, sending it to clients and other interested parties. Since then it has been written up in Automobile, Car and Driver and AutoWeek as well as Denise McCluggage's nationally syndicated newspaper column, Drive She Said.
Before getting into the car business, Curt was an officer in the U.S. Army, serving in Vietnam during 1969-70, receiving 12 decorations including the Bronze Star with V and the Purple Heart (latest count shows 15. Apparently I miscounted campaign stars, and I didn't know MACV personnel got a group award until lately). He wrote about his wartime experiences in a novel, The Advisors, published in 1986 (now out of print). To see a newly discovered 1969 Vietnam photo and the story behind it, click here.
A car nut from puberty he joined the Sports Car Club of America in 1964 and competed in most forms of competition, becoming National Rally Champion in 1977 and again, this time with his wife, Debbie, navigating, in 1991. In both cases he competed in Class A, where the big boys play. At the end of the 1991 season Debbie and he retired from rallying. He holds the title of Grand Master with over 200 lifetime points, equivalent to winning 20 national rallies outright.
He also competed in Solo II and SCCA racing, winning several Solo II regional championships. At one point in time he won 11 in a row, so his car was reclassified nationally to a faster class. Then he only won 10 in a row. After he quit racing he became an instructor for the Porsche Club of America. He never owned a Porsche, but after a PCA track session in which he passed and harassed a lot of much faster Porsches with his Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6 Sportline, the chief instructor asked him to be an instructor.
He ran Car and Driver's One Lap of America in 1994 and was set to run it again in 1995 when he was stricken with a rare optic nerve disease (Anterior Bilateral Non-arteritic Ischimic Optic Neuropathy). While he can still drive, his night vision is shot, so a week long, round-the-clock drive doesn't sound like as much fun as it used to.
Along the way he continued his study of weaponcraft begun in the Army and actively competed in International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) pistol matches from 1982 to 1992. He received considerable training from Jeff Cooper's American Pistol Institute/Gunsite Training Center, the Ray Chapman Academy, and Thunder Ranch. In 1999 he started competing in the Single Action Shooting Society.
His success at selling cars and Mercedes and Volvos in particular he attributes to a few principles:
1. Don't lie.
2. Don't steal.
3. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
4. Know more about the cars than the customers.
5. While most people think the job involves fast talking, the secret is fast listening.
6. Hard Work = Good Luck.
His competition and combat experience resulted in a book, Drive to Survive, Combat Survival Techniques for the Road, published by Motorbooks International under the Classic Motorbooks label and due out this November.
He lives in Houston, Texas, with his much younger wife, Debbie, whom he refers to as "the Redhead" in the newsletter, and three Persian cats and a dog named John Moses Browning.
Organizations: Life member, Vietnam Veterans of America
Life member, Military Order of the Purple Heart
Endowment member, National Rifle Association
Life member, Texas State Rifle Association
Life member, United States Practical Shooting Association
Life member, 100 Club of Houston
Life member, National Motorists Association
Life member, Single Action Shooting Society
Curt's Home Page
Links of interest:
Sports Car Club of America
Vietnam Veterans of America on the internet
Military Order of the Purple Heart
NRA.org (National Rifle Association homepage)
Jeff Cooper's Commentaries
The National Motorists Association
TSRA Home Page