Derek Bell, one of the most celebrated sports and single-seat car racer with multiple wins at the Daytona 24, Le Mans 24 and the World Sportscar Championship, grew up on a farm and was encouraged by his stepfather to learn racing. The tall, skinny kid started his career with Lotus at Goodwood Circuit in West Sussex, UK winning first place later that year. Quickly graduating from Formula Three, to Formula Two and finally Formula One in 4 years, an amazing feat with several wins along the way, Mr. Bell worked with Steve McQueen in the filming of LeMans in 1970. After winning Le Mans five times he became the most successful British driver of the time. With his eldest son, Justin Bell, the two drivers raced together in the 1991 Daytona 24 and the Le Mans the following year.
Derek’s proudest racing moment was racing with his son in the Le Mans 24 on Father’s Day in 1995, and finishing on the podium in third place.
After actively competing for four decades, the 76 year old legendary driver now participates in classic race events like the Oldtimer Grand Prix in Nürburgring, Monaco Grand Prix Historique in Monte Carlo and Le Mans Classic in Le Mans.
Winner of six Le Mans, Jacky Ickx, made racing history beyond his winning record. In 1969 with 400,000 spectators watching the start of the 37th LeMans, the announcer said, “Gentlemen, start your engines”. All of the drivers except one set off running to their cars, jumped in, put on helmets and fastened safety belts. Many times the drivers were in such a hurry that they started the race without putting on their helmets or safety belts to save a few seconds at the start of the race. Walking calmly to his Ford GT40, the newcomer, Jacky Ickx, placed his helmet on, buckled the safety belts and started the race in last place. In the previous year’s race, Willy Mairesse was seriously injured while not wearing the safety belts. Under these circumstances the Belgian driver was protesting the way the race starts, and ironically, on lap one John Woolfe was killed without his safety belts fastened. Jacky Ickx went on to win Le Mans that year while the racing authority changed the race rules requiring the drivers to be seated in their cars, helmets on and the safety belts fastened before the start of the race.
Known as the “Monsieur Le Mans, the legendary endurance racer continued his career wining eight Formula One Grand Prix races and 25 podium finishes throughput Europe and Canada from 1968 to !972. Sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and owned by the Formula One Group, Formula One (also Formula 1 or F1) is the highest class of single-seater auto racing on road courses in the world.
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