Derek Bell (racing driver)

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Derek Bell
Derek Bell (2356476570).jpg
Bell in 2008
Born (1941-10-31) 31 October 1941 (age 72)
Pinner, Middlesex, England, UK
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality United Kingdom British
Active years 19681972, 1974
Teams Ferrari, McLaren, Surtees, Tecno
Races 16 (9 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 1
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First race 1968 Italian Grand Prix
Last race 1974 Canadian Grand Prix

Derek Reginald Bell MBE (born 31 October 1941 in Pinner, Middlesex, England) is a British racing driver who was extremely successful in sportscar racing, winning the Le Mans 24 hours five times, the Daytona 24 three times and the World Sportscar Championship twice. He also raced in Formula One for the Ferrari, Wheatcroft, McLaren, Surtees and Tecno teams. He has been described by fellow racer Hans-Joachim Stuck as one of the most liked drivers of his generation.[1]

Derek Bell in August 1970 at Nürburgring racing in Formula 2 there.
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Participating years 1970–1983, 1985–1996
Teams Scuderia Ferrari
John Wyer Automotive
Ecurie Francorchamps
Gulf Racing
Grand Touring Cars
Renault Sport
Porsche System
Rothmans Porsche
Richard Lloyd Racing
Joest Porsche Racing
ADA Engineering
Courage Compétition
Gulf Oil Racing
David Price Racing
Best finish 1st (1975, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1987)
Class wins 5 (1975, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1987)

Early career[edit]

Derek Bell in the Wheatcroft Racing Brabham BT30 at the Nürburgring in 1970.

Bell grew up on a farm and helped to run the Church Farm caravan site, complete with its own pub, near Pagham Harbour before being encouraged by his stepfather Bernard Hender to take up racing with a Lotus Seven in 1964. He won his first race in the Lotus at Goodwood in March of that year. He graduated to Formula Three in the following year racing a Lotus 31 and in 1966 switched to a Lotus 41 scoring his first victory, again at Goodwood. In 1967 he enjoyed seven wins. He entered Formula Two in a privateer Brabham BT23C fielded by his stepfather's Church Farm Racing team and after several promising performances, which caught Enzo Ferrari's eye, made his Formula One Grand Prix debut for Ferrari at Monza in 1968. In 1969 he raced the four-wheel-drive McLaren M9A[2] in its only ever race at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Bell took part in the filming of Le Mans (1970) starring Steve McQueen, and he and his family lived with the McQueen family during the filming, the two becoming friends. Bell had a lucky escape during the making of the film. The Ferrari 512 he was driving suddenly caught fire whilst getting into position for a take. He managed to get out of the car just before it was engulfed in flames and suffered minor burns. Although the car was badly damaged, it was later rebuilt and is still racing at historic meets.[3]

Bell finished second in the 1970 European Formula Two Championship, driving a Brabham BT30 for Wheatcroft Racing. In 1972 he got a drive in the Tecno Formula One team, along with Nanni Galli. He later raced a number of times for the Surtees team, including a 6th place at the 1970 United States Grand Prix racing a Surtees TS7, which was to be his highest finish in the Formula One World Championship. It was to be in sports car racing, which he came too via a drive in Jacques Swaters privately entered Ferrari 512M in the 1970 Spa 1000km leading to a Ferrari works drive at the 1970 Le Mans 24 hours, where he built a strong reputation as a world class and world championship winning racer.

Le Mans[edit]

Bell is best known for winning Le Mans 24 hours race five times, in 1975, 1981, 1982, 1986 and 1987, making him the most successful British driver in the race to date. He was teamed with the Belgium Jacky Ickx in 1975, racing the Gulf Mirage GR8, again in 1981, racing a Porsche 936 and finally in 1982 racing a Rothmans Porsche 956. The Bell/Ickx partnership is considered as one of the most famous pairings in motorsport history. Bell went onto win the 1986 and 1987 Le Mans teamed with Hans-Joachim Stuck and Al Holbert racing a Rothmans Porsche 962.

Derek Bell in the Gulf Mirage M6 at the 1972 Nürburgring 1000km.

His first Le Mans was in 1970 in a works entered Ferrari 512, with co-driver Ronnie Peterson, his last in 1996 racing a McLaren F1 GTR. Bell achieved his highest ever speed at Le Mans at the 1971 Le Mans 24 hours April test day, reaching a calculated top speed of 246mph on the Mulsanne straight in the JW Gulf Porsche 917LH.[4]

1971 Le Mans Porsche 917LH driven by Derek Bell & Jo Siffert parked outside the Hotel de France

Sportscar racing[edit]

Bell also won the World Sportscar Championship title twice in 1985 and 1986 and the 24 Hours of Daytona three times in 1986, 1987 and 1989. He won the 1973 Silverstone RAC Tourist Trophy racing a BMW 3.0CSL with Harald Ertl. In 1984 he won the Nürburgring 1000km with Stefan Bellof, racing a Porsche 956, with a notable 4th place in the 1974 Nürburgring 1000km racing a Gulf GR7 with James Hunt on the longer 22.8km circuit.

His first victory in the Spa 1000km came in 1974 racing a Mirage M6 with Mike Hailwood, going onto win the 1975 and 1984 editions, with Henri Pescarolo in that seasons dominant Alfa Romeo Tipo 33TT12 on the old 14km track and with Stefan Bellof, in the equally dominant Porsche 956 of 1984, on the shorter circuit used by Formula One. He is also one of two drivers to win the Spa 1000km on both the original and current circuits, the other being Jacky Ickx.

Derek Bell with a number of the Porsche 956's and 962's he drove during his racing career

Post-racing career[edit]

Bell was hired as chairman for the Spectre R42 super car project between 1996 to its demise in 1997. In 2001 he was hired to consult for the Bentley Speed 8 programme, helping Bentley to win Le Mans two years later. He now splits his time between in the United States and his home near Chichester in the United Kingdom, is an accomplished after dinner speaker and motorsport commentator and races in historic events around the globe, as well as performing a global ambassadorial role for Bentley. Bell is also an operating partner of Bentley Naples in Naples, Florida.

Derek Bell, Justin Bell & Andy Wallace, 3rd place, 1995 Le Mans.

His son, Justin Bell is also a racer. The two raced together in the 1991 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 1992 24 Hours of Le Mans. Bell was to race in the 2008 24 Hours of Daytona with Justin, however the car dropped out of the race early and Derek did not get to run in the race. Aside from winning at Le Mans five times, his proudest moment was coming third with his son Justin racing the Harrods sponsored McLaren F1 GTR in the 1995 Le Mans on Fathers Day.

Bell is a patron for the charities Hope for Tomorrow [5] and Mission Motorsport.

Bell returned to Le Mans to race a Porsche 962 for the first time in 20 years in the Group C race at Le Mans on the morning on 16 June 2012.

Awards[edit]


Racing record[edit]

Complete World Championship Formula One results[edit]

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 WDC Pts
1968 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 312/68 Ferrari V12 RSA
ESP
MON
BEL
NED
FRA
GBR
GER
ITA
Ret
CAN
USA
Ret
MEX
NC 0
1969 Bruce McLaren Motor Racing McLaren M9A Cosworth V8 RSA
ESP
MON
NED
FRA
GBR
Ret
GER
ITA
CAN
USA
MEX
NC 0
1970 Tom Wheatcroft Racing Brabham BT26A Cosworth V8 RSA
ESP
MON
BEL
Ret
NED
FRA
GBR
GER
AUT
ITA
CAN
22nd 1
Team Surtees Surtees TS7 USA
6
MEX
1971 Team Surtees Surtees TS9 Cosworth V8 RSA
ESP
MON
NED
FRA
GBR
Ret
GER
AUT
ITA
CAN
USA
NC 0
1972 Martini Racing Team Tecno PA123 Tecno
Flat-12
ARG
RSA
ESP
MON
BEL
FRA
DNQ
GBR
GER
Ret
AUT
ITA
DNQ
CAN
DNS
USA
Ret
NC 0
1974 Bang & Olufsen Team Surtees Surtees TS16 Cosworth V8 ARG
BRA
RSA
ESP
BEL
MON
SWE
NED
FRA
GBR
DNQ
GER
11
NC 0
Team Surtees AUT
DNQ
ITA
DNQ
CAN
DNQ
USA

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1970 Italy SpA Ferrari SEFAC Sweden Ronnie Peterson Ferrari 512S S
5.0
39 DNF DNF
1971 United Kingdom John Wyer Automotive Engineering Ltd. Switzerland Jo Siffert Porsche 917LH S
5.0
DNF DNF
1972 Belgium Ecurie Francorchamps Belgium Teddy Pilette
United Kingdom Richard Bond
Ferrari 365 GTB/4 GT
5.0
301 8th 4th
1973 United Kingdom Gulf Research Racing New Zealand Howden Ganley Mirage M6-Ford Cosworth S
3.0
163 DNF DNF
1974 United Kingdom Gulf Research Racing United Kingdom Mike Hailwood Gulf GR7-Ford Cosworth S
3.0
317 4th 4th
1975 United Kingdom Gulf Research Racing Belgium Jacky Ickx Mirage GR8-Ford Cosworth S
3.0
336 1st 1st
1976 United States Grand Touring Cars Inc. Australia Vern Schuppan Mirage GR8-Ford Cosworth S
3.0
326 5th 4th
1977 France Renault Sport France Jean-Pierre Jabouille Renault Alpine A442 S
+2.0
257 DNF DNF
1978 France Renault Sport France Jean-Pierre Jarier Renault Alpine A442A S
+2.0
162 DNF DNF
1979 United States Grand Touring Cars Inc.
France Ford Concessionaires France
United Kingdom David Hobbs
Australia Vern Schuppan
Mirage M10-Ford Cosworth S
+2.0
262 DNF DNF
1980 Germany Porsche System United States Al Holbert Porsche 924 Carrera GT GTP 305 13th 6th
1981 Germany Porsche System Belgium Jacky Ickx Porsche 936 S
+2.0
354 1st 1st
1982 Germany Rothmans Porsche System Belgium Jacky Ickx Porsche 956 C 359 1st 1st
1983 Germany Rothmans Porsche System Belgium Jacky Ickx Porsche 956 C 370 2nd 2nd
1985 Germany Rothmans Porsche Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck Porsche 962C C1 367 3rd 3rd
1986 Germany Rothmans Porsche United States Al Holbert
Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck
Porsche 962C C1 368 1st 1st
1987 Germany Rothmans Porsche Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck
United States Al Holbert
Porsche 962C C1 355 1st 1st
1988 Germany Porsche AG Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck
Germany Klaus Ludwig
Porsche 962C C1 394 2nd 2nd
1989 United Kingdom Richard Lloyd Racing United Kingdom Tiff Needell
United Kingdom James Weaver
Porsche 962C GTi C1 339 DNF DNF
1990 Germany Joest Porsche Racing Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck
Germany Frank Jelinski
Porsche 962C C1 350 4th 4th
1991 Austria Konrad Motorsport
Germany Joest Porsche Racing
Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck
Germany Frank Jelinski
Porsche 962C C2 347 7th 7th
1992 United Kingdom ADA Engineering United Kingdom Tiff Needell
United Kingdom Justin Bell
Porsche 962C GTi C3 284 12th 5th
1993 France Courage Compétition France Lionel Robert
France Pascal Fabre
Courage C30LM-Porsche C2 347 10th 5th
1994 United Kingdom Gulf Oil Racing United Kingdom Robin Donovan
Germany Jürgen Lässig
Kremer K8 Spyder-Porsche LMP1
/C90
316 6th 3rd
1995 United Kingdom Harrods Mach One Racing
United Kingdom David Price Racing
United Kingdom Andy Wallace
United Kingdom Justin Bell
McLaren F1 GTR GT1 296 3rd 2nd
1996 United Kingdom Harrods Mach One Racing
United Kingdom David Price Racing
United Kingdom Andy Wallace
France Olivier Grouillard
McLaren F1 GTR GT1 328 6th 5th

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Henri Pescarolo
Gérard Larrousse
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1975 with:
Jacky Ickx
Succeeded by
Jacky Ickx
Gijs van Lennep
Preceded by
Jean Rondeau
Jean-Pierre Jaussaud
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1981 with:
Jacky Ickx
Succeeded by
Jacky Ickx
Derek Bell
Preceded by
Jacky Ickx
Derek Bell
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1982 with:
Jacky Ickx
Succeeded by
Vern Schuppan
Al Holbert
Hurley Haywood
Preceded by
Klaus Ludwig
Paolo Barilla
Louis Krages
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1986 with:
Hans-Joachim Stuck
Al Holbert
Succeeded by
Derek Bell
Hans-Joachim Stuck
Al Holbert
Preceded by
Derek Bell
Hans-Joachim Stuck
Al Holbert
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1987 with:
Hans-Joachim Stuck
Al Holbert
Succeeded by
Jan Lammers
Johnny Dumfries
Andy Wallace
Preceded by
Stefan Bellof
World Sportscar Championship Champion
1985-1986,
1985: with Hans-Joachim Stuck
Succeeded by
Raul Boesel
Awards
Preceded by
Jonathan Palmer
Autosport
British Competition Driver of the Year

1984
Succeeded by
Nigel Mansell