Derek received his early education in elite German schools, which instilled in him old-world values and resulted in his fluency in the German language. At age 14, Derek's family moved to California. By his late teens, Derek had owned seven motorcycles, attended the California Superbike School twice, and earned certificates in motorcycle mechanics from AMI and machine tool technology (with honors) from ROP. His formal training also includes CAD/CAM (NTMA) and Creative Systemic Quality Function Deployment (SJSU). He established Motolab (then named CPR) in 1987 on his 21st birthday.
Derek has custom built, modified, restored, and tuned all manner of vehicles, including electric race cars, gravity racers, vintage race cars, hotrods, motorcycles, trikes, and bicycles. He has worked on diverse projects involving NASCAR simulators, electronics chassis, vapor-compression water-processing equipment, lighting fixtures, high-speed tape-duplicating equipment, photo adapters, professional audio installation hardware, manufacturing equipment and locksmithing equipment. In the early 1990s, Derek was a pioneer in night club-based motorcycle events in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also acted as team sponsor and crew chief for successful endurance road-racing teams.