Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

'The day we cleaned President Obama's car was just surreal'

The 28-year-old from Dunloy has cleaned some of the top supercars as well as the most famous vehicle in the world, US President Barack Obama's The Beast

Wash and go: Mark has worked on many luxury models including the US President's car, known as The Beast

Seven years ago I was studying Sports Science at the University of Ulster, hoping to be a PE teacher. I set up a car wash to get money to see me through university.

It was very busy and people were asking us about a valeting service. We looked into a product called Autoglyn who offered a training course in England.

When I did the course I found that the way forward in England was to offer a mobile valeting service.

I came back home and we bought our first van and the business really took off from there.

We got a lot of local car dealerships as well as private people and within a year we had two vans and were employing four staff.

My brother Aaron has worked with me from the start and I couldn't do any of the big events we have done without his skills.

Our first big job for Top Gear was when they brought the show to Dublin four years ago. We put in a tender and got it and it snowballed from there.

We've just come back from Top Gear Live in Glasgow where we cleaned 55 luxury vehicles. The crew is very friendly and all the presenters came over and shock our hands and asked how we were.

When you are at Top Gear and Stig is three or four feet away from you, getting into a car you are wiping down, it's hard to take in. It's just amazing to get that opportunity – and to get paid for it makes it even better.

Golfer Darren Clarke is a regular customer. We go to his house and clean his cars. He is a gentleman. He just talks to us the whole time about cars, he doesn't mention golf.

He is so easy to deal with and he is car crazy. All his cars are Mercedes; he is into very big horse power. He is very friendly.

Fellow golfer Graeme McDowell is also a lovely, humble, down- to-earth guy. The last time we cleaned his jeep he was competing in the Irish Open and he came out and talked to us.

However, our biggest tender was probably the G8 summit.

There was so much paper work and we were amazed to get it. We were on call all the time, 24/7 during the summit to provide cover from Enniskillen to Derry and Belfast.

We weren't told until the last minute when we were needed and we never knew who would be travelling in the cars.

The cars had to be pristine at all times for the leaders getting into them and we were very fortunate that the weather was on our side which made our job a lot easier.

The day we were asked to do the US President's car was just surreal. The car itself is beautifully finished inside with lovely leather seats and lots of room, but it was basic enough. We didn't see any high end gadgets in it.

That would have been a great picture to have but the security guard was about 25 stone and had the biggest muscles I have ever seen and there were no phones allowed anywhere near it unfortunately, so we couldn't get a photograph.

We probably did 50 cleans in total during the week of the summit.

We've had some amazing experiences but the most special so far was a customer who had a lorry which he airbrushed with images of Tony McCoy riding horses.

Tony came over to see it and we were present. He was so humble and he could not take it in that someone would want to paint pictures of him on their lorry. It was a great experience to meet him.

It is a fantastic job, especially for someone like me who loves cars. We get a lot of customers who buy supercars which are just released and sometimes we are getting to see them even before the customer which is awesome.

Ironically, I don't have a car of my own as I drive a van and work seven days a week. If I was to win the lottery I think my treat would be a Pagani Huayra. It's about £1.2m and has the most insane attention to detail."

'Top Gear was an amazing opportunity'

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