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Derek Bell (racing driver)

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Title: Derek Bell (racing driver)  
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Subject: Jacky Ickx, List of 24 Hours of Le Mans winners, Hans-Joachim Stuck, Al Holbert, Justin Bell
Collection: 1941 Births, 24 Hours of Daytona Drivers, 24 Hours of Le Mans Drivers, 24 Hours of Le Mans Winning Drivers, Bentley, Brabham Formula One Drivers, Brdc Gold Star Winners, Brighton Speed Trials People, English Formula One Drivers, English Racing Drivers, European Formula Two Championship Drivers, Ferrari Formula One Drivers, Goodwood, International Race of Champions Drivers, Living People, McLaren Formula One Drivers, Members of the Order of the British Empire, Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Inductees, People Educated at King's School, Worcester, People from Bognor Regis, People from Pinner, Surtees Formula One Drivers, Tasman Series Drivers, Tecno Formula One Drivers, World Sportscar Championship Drivers
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Derek Bell (racing driver)

Derek Bell
Bell in 2008
Born (1941-10-31) 31 October 1941
Pinner, Middlesex, England, UK
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality British
Active years 19681972, 1974
Teams Ferrari, McLaren, Surtees, Tecno
Entries 16 (9 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 1
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First entry 1968 Italian Grand Prix
Last entry 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 at the Nürburgring in August 1970 when racing Formula 2
Derek Bell racing a Formula 2 Ferrari 166 Dino at the Nürburgring in 1969
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 1
  • Le Mans 2
  • Sportscar racing 3
  • Post-racing career 4
  • Awards 5
  • Racing record 6
    • Complete Formula One World Championship results 6.1
    • Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results 6.2
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early career

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. He contested the 1969 Tasman Series in a 2.4 Dino Ferrari and was second at Lakeside to Amon and Rindt at Warwick Farm. 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. He had a few furthur drives for Surtees in 1974 and finished 11th in the 1974 German Grand Prix. Enjoying single seaters more than sports cars he accepted drives in F5000/Libre British Shellsport series and F5000 in 1976-7 the Penske PC7 March and also odd F5000 drives in the US and Australia.

It was to be in sports car racing, which he came to via a drive in Jacques Swaters privately entered Ferrari 512M in the 1970 Spa 1000 km, 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

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 Belgian Jacky Ickx in 1975, racing the Gulf Mirage GR8,[4] 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.

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

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 246 mph on the Mulsanne Straight in the JW Gulf Porsche 917LH.[5]

Derek Bell in the Gulf Mirage M6 at the 1972 Nürburgring 1000km
1994 Le Mans Gulf Kremer Porsche K8 Spyder raced by Derek Bell & Robin Donovan

Sportscar racing

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 22.8 km 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 1975, in that season's dominant Alfa Romeo Tipo 33TT12 on the old 14 km 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

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, UK, is an after dinner speaker and motorsport commentator, He also races in historic events, and is a global ambassadorial for Bentley. Bell is also an operating partner of Bentley Naples in Naples, Florida, USA.

Derek Bell, Justin Bell and Andy Wallace on the podium for the 1995 Le Mans
Derek Bell racing in the Group C support race at the 2012 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, he claims 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.

Bentley Brand ambassador Derek Bell at the Moscow Raceway
AA presentation of Honorary Life membership to Derek Bell

Bell is a patron for the charities Hope for Tomorrow[6] and Mission Motorsport. He is also an Ambassador for the Fly Navy Heritage Trust.

Bell is currently the president of the oldest pram race in the world. The Pagham Pram Race [7] started in 1946 and is run annually at 11am on Boxing Day.

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 16 June 2012.

Bell was presented with Honorary Life membership of the AA in recognition of his 50 years in motorsport, commemorated by a plaque presented by Lord March at the Moving Motorshow during the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed in the presence of Chris Jansen, CEO of the AA, and Edmund King, the president of the AA.


  • BRDC Gold Star: 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987
  • Royal Automobile Club Plaque d'Honneur: 1985
  • Guild of Motoring Writers Driver of the Year: 1982 and 1985
  • Bell was awarded the MBE in 1986 for services to motorsport.
  • Inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2012.[8]
  • Inducted into the Le Mans 24 Hours Drivers Hall of Fame in 2013.[9]
  • Presented with Honorary Life Membership of the AA in recognition of his 50 years in motorsport at the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed

Racing record

Complete Formula One World Championship results


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
1969 Bruce McLaren Motor Racing McLaren M9A Cosworth V8 RSA ESP MON NED FRA GBR
1970 Tom Wheatcroft Racing Brabham BT26A Cosworth V8 RSA ESP MON BEL
Team Surtees Surtees TS7 USA
1971 Team Surtees Surtees TS9 Cosworth V8 RSA ESP MON NED FRA GBR
1972 Martini Racing Team Tecno PA123 Tecno
NC 0
1974 Bang & Olufsen Team Surtees Surtees TS16 Cosworth V8 ARG BRA RSA ESP BEL MON SWE NED FRA GBR
NC 0
Team Surtees AUT

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results

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


  1. ^ – Hans-Joachim Stuck speaks to AUSringers Retrieved 4 April 2009
  2. ^
  3. ^ Twitter account
  4. ^
  5. ^ Daily Telegraph Retrieved 6 June 2014
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Friends, Family, Fellow Legends and Industry Insiders Usher 2012 Inductees into Hall of Fame". Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. 30 August 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  9. ^

External links

  • Derek Bell MBE – Official Web Site
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: with Hans-Joachim Stuck
Succeeded by
Raul Boesel
Preceded by
Jonathan Palmer
British Competition Driver of the Year

Succeeded by
Nigel Mansell
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