Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Banking Lawyer on a Fast Track: Former Fed Attorney Has His Walter Mitty Side

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Banking Lawyer on a Fast Track: Former Fed Attorney Has His Walter Mitty Side

Article excerpt

Formal, staid, hushed ... That's how Federal Reserve headquarters in Washington, D.C., is. Those who work there are normal enough, but it's hard to think of them doing anything really exciting--like teaching people how to drive a sports car around a race track as fast as possible. That must violate some Fed regulation.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Actually, no. Oliver Ireland, a buttoned-down, Yale-educated lawyer did just that while working as associate general counsel for the Fed in the '80s and '90s. Ireland worked with Chairman Alan Greenspan, other board members, and General Counsel Virgil Mattingly. Asked if he ever discussed his track exploits with them, he said, "No, they weren't interested."

Ireland, however, was always interested in cars, and when he came to Washington, he bought the first of two Porsche 944 sports cars, and joined the Potomac Region Porsche Club. The car was quick and easy to drive fast, he says. But not quick enough. In 1990 he bought a used 944S2, which had more oomph, allowing him to power slide through corners.

The club rented various road-racing tracks in the Northeast for a weekend, including Summit Point in West Virginia and Watkins Glen in upstate New York, and would run time trials. In these, drivers would go out at intervals, seeing who could set fastest lap times. While they weren't supposed to be racing, the reality, says Ireland, is that there was always a rivalry. "If I saw a car in front of me, I'd try and track him down. …

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